from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
- n. Zoology Instinctive behavior that is detrimental to the individual but favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes, as by benefiting its relatives.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Regard for others, both natural and moral; devotion to the interests of others; brotherly kindness; – opposed to egoism or selfishness.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Regard for others, both natural and moral; devotion to the interests of others; brotherly kindness; -- opposed to
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A term first employed by the French philosopher Comte to denote the benevolent instincts and emotions in general, or action prompted by them: the opposite of egoism.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others
This use of the term altruism makes it a very different thing from the quality or characteristic which in the West is described by this term.
And (since your altruism is the primary factor in your decision making) your moral decisions stand or fall on whether you are feeling benevolent at the moment.
My "altruism" is the encouragement of ethical behavior.
For we transmuted the vernacular word "altruism" to a quite different technical sense — and then solved the technical issue, leaving the human phenomenon (for which the word was invented) quite unresolved.
I believe the human drive toward cooperation and altruism is far stronger than our drive to compete or relatiate, and is much more rewarded in our culture.
Whether or not this altruism is realistic, especially given the large amount of money that Google pays to Mozilla, I think the important message is that users become aware of what a browser is and learn that there are alternatives to Internet Explorer.
Ultimately, it also proves the primitively atavistic nature of human beings: that altruism is an unnatural societal construct and that self-interest is the natural impulse of the human animal.
On the issue of whether altruism is essentially selfish, studies have suggested that it is not.
It's been proven that altruism is good for the species.
If one believes that altruism is bad (Ayn Rand), then one should not take the time to correct a problem.