In French is where we can find the etymological origin of the term altruism that concerns us. Specifically, it can be determined that it emanates from the word “altruisme”, which means “philanthropy” and that, in turn, comes from the Latin “alter”, which could be translated as “the other”.
Moreover, it is considered that it was the French philosopher Auguste Comte, father of Sociology and Positivism, who coined the term altruism in the mid-nineteenth century. So much so that it is considered that the first time that word appeared was in the book “Catechism” by that author, which was published in 1854.
Altruism is the human conduct consisting of provide disinterested attention to others, even when such diligence threatens one’s own good. It can be understood, therefore, that altruism is the opposite of selfishness (the immoderate love that a subject feels about himself same and that it takes him to overindulge his own interest)
For example: “In a show of altruism, the guide decided to give his provisions to the rest of the expeditionaries”, “If altruism were massive, there would be no poor in the world”, “Politicians should show a bit of altruism and not get rich while the people go hungry”.
The altruisticTherefore, he tries to seek the good of others, without caring about his own. This subject performs some kind of personal sacrifice to provide him with a benefit to the neighbor.
There are different meanings of the notion of altruism, according to the philosophy or the moral system in question. It can be said that altruism is a conduct voluntary that seeks the benefit of others and does not anticipate benefits for the subject itself. For some thinkers, the altruist finds the meaning of his life in something that is alien to him.
The evolutionary biology and the ethology argue that altruism is also a animal behavior pattern, which leads a specimen to put its own life at risk to protect and benefit other members of its species.
Many are the studies and investigations that for centuries have been carried out on altruism. Thus, some of those analyzes have come to determine that the human being, like certain animals, is when he really comes of age when he experiences that value of helping others without having any type of personal interest.
Another of the authors who also made reference to altruism was the Parisian philosopher Émile Littré, a disciple of Comte, who considered Comte as one more example of love between the beings of the human species.
Certain studies assure that, in human beings, altruism appears around the year and a half of life, which would reflect a natural tendency to solidarity. Certain thinkers, on the other hand, believe that people are not naturally altruistic, but that this condition arises from the education.
This last opinion is the one that the English philosopher John Stuart Mill defended at all times. He, who also studied and analyzed issues such as slavery or freedom of expression, was clear that the human being is not born altruistic, but that this quality is it makes it part of his personality when he is brought up to do so.