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Altruism Vs Egoism


Altruism and egoism are two human characteristics that are quite confusing. These two terms cannot be used interchangeably. Egoism is the characteristic exhibited by the entire human race and most individuals. It involves putting oneself first before the others or in other words, it involves some degree of selfishness. This selfishness is considered to have been important in the evolution of the human species. On the other hand, altruism is the selfless character by people. It involves considering the welfare of another person prior to one’s welfare or sacrificing aspects such as money and time in order to help another person. Altruism is a common character in people considered as heroes.

Even though these two characteristics of human beings are true opposites of each other, a person can exude both of them albeit at different times. This is especially the case for people who show signs of altruism acts. For a person to be selfless he must have been egoistic at some point in order to gain something to be able to share with others.

It is impossible to say that either of the two traits is better than the other. This is because they sometimes lead to the same results. For instance, an egoistic person will achieve his goals and end up being happy. A happy person influences happiness on the people around him. On the other hand, a person who possesses the trait of altruism sacrifices his happiness for purposes of the happiness of other people. All in all, both acts lead to the happiness of other people.

Egoism helps a person’s survival and this phenomenon is supported through evolution theories. Actually, egoism starts right at the conception of a person. Only the fittest sperm cell is able to fertilize a female’s egg and this happens for all generations. George Williams is a great proponent of this theory. This evolutionary aspect places great emphasis on egoism and very little emphasis on altruism. Another research also showed this behaviour by grouping random individuals in different groups. Within the groups, selfish behaviour was stronger than cooperation for the group’s success.

One challenge with altruistic acts is that most people usually expect to be rewarded for any help offered. Therefore, researchers have suggested that when such a situation occurs, the act cannot be referred to as altruistic. Otherwise, without any expectation of reward, the act would be considered altruistic.

Altruism and egoism are two opposing human behaviours and each of them has its best suited time. Someone needs both of them to survive.

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