In French it 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, in turn, comes from
the Latin "alter", which could be translated as "the other".
Furthermore, it is considered that it was the French philosopher Auguste
Comte, father of Sociology and Positivism, who coined the term altruism in the
mid-19th 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
altruism is the human conduct that consists in offering
disinterested attention to others, even when such diligence attempts against
one's own good. It can be understood, therefore, that altruism is the
opposite of the selfishness (immoderate love that an individual feels about
himself same and it takes inordinately serve their own
For example: "In a display of altruism, the guide decided to hand over
his provisions to the rest of the expeditionaries", "If altruism were
massive, there would be no poor in the world", "Politicians should
show a little altruism and not get rich while the people go hungry ”.
The altruist, therefore, tries to procure the good of
others, without caring about his own. This subject performs some type of
personal sacrifice to provide a benefit to others.
There are different meanings of the notion of altruism, depending on the philosophy or
moral system in question. Altruism can be said to be a voluntary behavior that
seeks the benefit of others and does not anticipate benefits for the subject
himself. For some thinkers, the altruist finds the meaning of his life in
something that is foreign to him.
The evolutionary biology and ethology argue
that altruism is also a pattern of behavior the animal, which
carries a copy to risk his own life to protect and benefit other members of
Many are the studies and investigations that have been carried out for
centuries about 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 kind of personal
Another of the authors who also made reference to altruism was the Parisian
philosopher Émile Littré, a disciple of Comte, who considered it 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 education.
This last opinion is the one that the English philosopher John Stuart Mill
defended at all times. He, who also studied and analyzed topics such as slavery
or freedom of expression, was clear that the human being is not born altruistic,
but that quality is it becomes part of his personality at the moment he is
educated for it.