egoism

/ee"goh iz'euhm, eg"oh-/, n.
1. the habit of valuing everything only in reference to one's personal interest; selfishness (opposed to altruism).
2. egotism or conceit.
3. Ethics. the view that morality ultimately rests on self-interest.
[1775-85; < F égoïsme. See EGO, -ISM]
Syn. 1. See egotism.

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In ethics, the principle that we should each act so as to promote our own interests.

The great advantage of such a position is that it avoids any possible conflict between morality and self-interest; if it is rational for us to pursue our own interest, the rationality of morality is equally clear. The prescriptive thesis of ethical egoism can be distinguished from the descriptive thesis of psychological egoism. Psychological egoism is a generalization about human motivation, namely, that everyone always acts so as to promote his or her own interests.

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      (from Latin ego, “I”), in philosophy, an ethical theory holding that the good is based on the pursuit of self-interest. The word is sometimes misused for egotism, the overstressing of one's own worth.

      Egoist doctrines are less concerned with the philosophic problem of what is the self than with the common notions of a person and his concerns. They see perfection sought through the furthering of a man's own welfare and profit—allowing, however, that sometimes he may not know where these lie and must be brought to recognize them.

      Many ethical theories have an egoist bias. The hedonism of the ancient Greeks bids each man to seek his own greatest happiness; in the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes (Hobbes, Thomas), a Materialist, and Benedict de Spinoza (Spinoza, Benedict de), a Rationalist, held in different ways that self-preservation is the good; and those who stress the tending of one's own conscience and moral growth are likewise egoists in this sense. In contrast with such views is an ethics that is governed more by man's social aspects, which stresses the importance of the community rather than that of the individual. Under this head come such theories as Stoic cosmopolitanism, tribal solidarity, and utilitarianism, which are all forms of what the positivist Auguste Comte called altruism. The distinction, however, cannot always be neatly drawn.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Egoism — may refer to any of the following:* psychological egoism, the doctrine that holds that individuals are always motivated by self interest * ethical egoism, the doctrine that holds that individuals ought to do what is in their self interest *… …   Wikipedia

  • egoism — EGOÍSM s.n. Atitudine de exagerată preocupare pentru interesele personale şi de nesocotire a intereselor altora. – Din fr. égoïsme. Trimis de driada, 28.03.2009. Sursa: DEX 98  Egoism ≠ altruism Trimis de siveco, 03.08.2004. Sursa: Antonime … …   Dicționar Român

  • Egoism — • Synopsis of this ethical system, and short refutation Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Egoism     Egoism     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • egoism — egoism, egotism 1. Both are 18c words for ‘preoccupation with oneself’ in various ways. There is no etymological difference to affect their meanings, and the intrusive t in egotism is unexplained. When Fowler wrote about these words (1926),… …   Modern English usage

  • egoism — is usually considered in two forms. Psychological egoism is the view that people are always motivated by self interest. Ethical egoism is the view that whether or not people are like this, they ought to be like this; usually this is advanced in… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Egoism — E go*ism, n. [F. [ e]go[ i]sme, fr. L. ego I. See {I}, and cf. {Egotism}.] 1. (Philos.) The doctrine of certain extreme adherents or disciples of Descartes and Johann Gottlieb Fichte, which finds all the elements of knowledge in the ego and the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • egoism — index pride Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • egoism — 1785, in metaphysics (see EGOIST (Cf. egoist)), from Fr. égoisme (1755), from Mod.L. egoismus, from L. ego (see EGO (Cf. ego)). Meaning “self interest” is from 1800 …   Etymology dictionary

  • egoism — egotism, *conceit, amour propre, self love, self esteem Analogous words: self confidence, self assurance, self possession (see CONFIDENCE): self satisfaction, self complacency, complacency, smugness, priggishness (see corresponding adjectives at… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • egoism — / egotism [n] self centeredness arrogance, assurance, boastfulness, boasting, bragging, conceit, conceitedness, egocentricity, egomania, gasconade, haughtiness, insolence, megalomania, narcissism, ostentation, overconfidence, preoccupation with… …   New thesaurus

  • egoism — ► NOUN 1) an ethical theory that treats self interest as the foundation of morality. 2) another term for EGOTISM(Cf. ↑egotistical). DERIVATIVES egoist noun egoistic adjective egoistical adjective …   English terms dictionary

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