Does True Altruism Exist?

Excerpt from Neel Burton M.D.

Does True Altruism Exist?

“The bottom line, I think, is this.

There can be no such thing as an ‘altruistic’ act that does not involve some element of self-interest, no such thing, for example, as an altruistic act that does not lead to some degree, no matter how small, of pride or validation or satisfaction.

Accordingly, an act should not be written off as selfish or self-motivated simply because it includes some small and inevitable element of self-interest.

The act can still be counted as altruistic if the ‘selfish’ element is accidental; or, if not accidental, then secondary; or, if neither accidental nor secondary, then un-determining.
My two cents: My daughter with the child psychology degree tells me altruism does not exist in nature.

She studied the behavior of primates in college, concluding we always have a benefit in mind.

Some people go to church so God will be good to them or they are afraid of not going to church and the consequences they may incur.

We always have a reason.

I want to believe I am a giver.

I can see both perspectives on this one.

Full article here:

3 responses to this post.

  1. As a child I grew up strict catholic, went to Catholic grade and high school

    I was afraid of missing mass because of the consequences

    I went for a long time because of fear not devotion

    Another example, I told my daughter me moving helping her and my grandkids was altruistic.

    She said no way. I had a stake in my lineage

    Wow. They are my grand kids

    I have to give ultimate credit for foster parents

    They are angels, which has to be close to altruism

  2. Posted by rudid96 on May 15, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    I lean towards your daughter’s belief. If a being is living, all actions have a perceived benefit. There can be additional positives consequences, but the essence wasn’t altruism.

  3. I am a libra, the scales, I see both sides.

    I give most of the time without regard for benefit

    But it feels good when you see results or get a thank you

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