Religion creates community, community creates altruism and altruism turns us away from self and towards the common good. Altruism is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions.a. Is any altruistic action always at the expense of the self and is synonymous to self-negation?b. Some philosophers and scientists argue that there is no such thing as true altruism. Give your opinion on the same.

Altruism is referred to as the principle and moral tradition of concern for the happiness of other human beings or anything that lives. It appears in both material and spiritual quality of life. Sometimes it is a conventional purity in many cultures and a core perspective of various religious cultures and secular views. The act of altruism can also be referred to as selflessness, which has a totally opposite nature to selfishness. But some of the renowned philosophers and scientists argue that there is no such thing as true altruism.

Altruistic action and selflessness

It can not be denied that altruistic behaviors, people sometimes act in a way that benefits others, but there is always a possibility to get something in return. As stated by the philosophers, this return benefit plays a motivational role for the altruistic actions. There are two different factors i.e. reciprocal altruism and kin selection. The former denotes the sacrificing own good for others in order to gain favor in return and the latter one goes for them who behave altruistically towards others who share its genes and will tend to reproduce those genes. The act of benefitting others in the expectation that the favor will be returned could never be an act of altruism.  Pure altruism requires sacrifice for another without considering any personal benefit.

Effective altruism

Effective altruism is considered as a theory and social movement that analyses several things in order to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. It encourages individuals to consider all causes and actions and to act in line with the way for the greatest positive influence, based upon their values. It is a widespread, evidence-based, and neutral approach to differentiate effective altruism from the traditional model of altruism.

Comment

Altruists and automatically sacrifice of own interests for others are different things. Altruism is definitely possible and altruism exists. But the presence of pure altruism is very hard to accept as the ability to behave altruistically is rooted in a self-centric understanding. In order to act altruistically, one must feel compassion for others.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Religion creates community, community creates altruism and altruism turns us away from self and towards the common good. Altruism is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions.a. Is any altruistic action always at the expense of the self and is synonymous to self-negation?b. Some philosophers and scientists argue that there is no such thing as true altruism. Give your opinion on the same. {150 words, 10 marks}

Published: September 22, 2017 | Modified:September 27, 2020

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