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Altruistic person : the real meaning and definition of 'Altruism'

Updated on February 8, 2014

In simple words, Altruism can be called as humanitarian acts which concentrates on welfare of others. Altruism, a seemingly noble ideal, has many major flaws when it's supposed “goodness” is investigated. Altruism has many forms and reasons. They range from self righteousness to self satisfaction to guilt. A rich man walking on the road would believe that the nonchalant toss of a two buck coin to some disfigured beggar by the side of the road is altruism. He is mistaken Grossly! He is throwing that coin to the beggar only to serve is very need, to feel righteous and good. It is but a veiled form of insecurity. Now that he has completed his 'altruistic' act, he is happy; satisfied that he has done his good deed for the day. If he keeps this up for the rest of the forty or so years of his life, his spot in heaven is more than secured. He has done his dues. Or has he ???

The very problem with this argument is the fact that, the underlying reason for the person to commit such an act, is not for the good of the beggar, but for his own self satisfaction. Is this altruism, in its purest sense?

Another convoluted reason of this supposed altruism is guilt. If a person commits, what is viewed as a crime, by the society he lives in, for example : he steals some money, he then feels that he should do something to purge his sins, so maybe when he is well off, he donated a small part of his illegally-amassed wealth to charity. Altruism? He is merely assuaging the nagging feeling at the back of his mind, which makes him feel guilty. He is merely making his conscience more comfortable to live with. He is, after all, doing something good.

Another less convoluted but nonetheless selfish reason for altruism is self satisfaction. Let us consider a similar situation where a well off man throws a few coins to a beggar. When he looks at the thankful face of the beggar, he feels satisfied. He feels happy that he has helped someone. It is innately related to the feelings of self-righteousness but subtly different. He genuinely feels happy for the other person. Again a selfish motive, although underlying.

Altruism, in its purest form exists but it is not intentional. A mother, suffering complications in her pregnancy, would rather die than let her child die. This selfless love can be referred to as altruism in its purest form. It is because of an intangible bond between mother and child, something that cannot be explained nor denied.

Human, by nature are selfish. Humans, by nature, have an 'evil' side. Why deny the facts and pretend we're all good or that we want to be good? This attitude is what is depraved. Altruism as practiced by human society is good, but most of the time, it is done for wrong reasons. The real reasons are hidden and not admitted. There is no wrong in saying that I gave the beggar coin for my own satisfaction. The beggar doesn't care. He is still thankful. So why hide behind a veil and say that I had no self interest in that action? This is the epitome of debasement. To do something for reasons other than one's own. Man is a selfish animal. We should learn to deal with it and accept it as a virtue rather than deny it and pretend that things are otherwise.

The supposed goodness of altruism, as practiced by society is only a form of convoluted egotism. It is not a selfless act in the literal and true sense of the world. Altruism is not wrong. It is only wrong when practiced for the wrong reasons. Not all humans are like this. That is not to say there is no goodness in people. Both sides exist. People should learn to accept and confront it. The day when this will occur, you will yourself see some serious enhancements in all prospects of your life.


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    • am@n profile image

      am@n 7 years ago

      it can be called as a general definition of a community, but 'exceptions' are always there... without any discrimination, i would like to say that in the present world scenario there are very very few ideally altruistic people

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Would it be correct then to say that a Christian is Altruistic by Biblical definition of a Christian?

    • am@n profile image

      am@n 7 years ago

      my native language is 'Hindi' the national language of India

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 7 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      This seems rather convoluted. Who are we to know the real motives of a philanthropist?

      I will leave that to God.

      What is your native language?

    • am@n profile image

      am@n 7 years ago

      thanks qwark and Hello, hello,

      @qwark : no English isn't my native language

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A well written and thought proving hub. Thank you.

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 7 years ago

      Hello am@n:

      I appreciate your concern.

      I have read a couple of your "hubs."

      Is English your native language?

      I follow "hubbers" who write on subjects that I have an interest in and whom interest me in ref to their writing style.

      Keep writing. I'll drop in once in a while to "test-the-water."

      You are appreciated.