Altruism is the tendency to help others selflessly. The word, as such, comes from the French altruism, voice that derives from autrui, which means ‘another person’ or ‘the others’. Originally refers to the Latin alter, which translates ‘other’.
The term altruism was created in the 19th century by the French philosopher Augusto Comte to define a type of behavior opposed to selfishness.
People who act with altruism do so unselfishly, without pursuing personal gain, but with the aim of seeking the good of other people.
An altruistic person, in this sense, is one who thinks of others rather than himself. It is someone who helps or supports those who need help without expecting anything in return.
It is an act of altruism, for example, donating a percentage of a cash prize to social foundations.
Altruism is a very important value in society, since it is based on solidarity and empathy with the other.
Religions such as Christianity consider altruism a pillar value within their beliefs. A sample of this is the sacrifice of the life of Jesus Christ to save humanity as narrated in the Bible.
Synonyms of altruism are solidarity, philanthropy, generosity or sacrifice. Antonyms are selfishness and individualism.
Altruism in biology
In biology, altruism is a pattern of behavior in which an individual is able to put his own life at risk to benefit, help or protect another individual in the group.
Altruism is observable among animals belonging to the same herd, but can also occur between individuals of the same species or between different species.
As such, altruism is studied from ethology, which is the part of biology that is responsible for analyzing the behavior of animals.