The roots of altruism

Altruism – a theory of conduct that regards the good of others as the end of moral action. The term (French altruisme, derived from Latin alter, “other”) was coined in the 19th century by Auguste Comte.

Altruism in psychology

Altruism refers to behavior that benefits another individual at a cost to oneself. For example, giving your dinner, lunch away is altruistic because it helps someone who is hungry, but at a cost of being hungry yourself. Neurological, cultural, and other kinds of factors may cause some people to be more altruistic than others. So-called ”extreme altruist” they differ from others in the size of their brains’ amygdala and their responsiveness to signs of distress. External influences such as a religious reasons or socio economic status may also play a role.

Christianity And Unbelief

At its inception, the concept of altruism resonated widely in a Victorian culture saturated with moral and religious intensity. Some were attracted to Comtean positivism and its worship of humanity as an eminently respectable form of unbelief, one that combined a commitment to the sciences with a continuing religious sense and with the strong social conscience that the positivist ideology of altruism involved. On the other hand, some who were committed to a Christian view of morality and society saw in Comtean altruism a concept of the love of others that was detached both from an understanding of appropriate self-love and from the necessity of a love of God. (

“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

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