25 December 2011

Now altruism is bad!

Happy Holidays! Such claims to knowledge of the definition of altruism make me more than a little uneasy.


  1. Buddha once described/defined compassion as not that we should act on what we see but that we should not train ourselves to be blind to what we see.

    In other words compassion is seeing the suffering of others. Doing any more than this is not compassion - it is attachment to belief - eg the belief that by intervening we are doing good.

    If we can help others in a way that is not dependent on our own need to see ourselves as magnanimous then that is altruism.

    my 2c worth


  2. Well that's one definition. But you should see how evolutionary psychologists and experts in management treat altruism. They have a wholly different view: they see it as behavior that can be instrumentally produced through small games and exchanges. The implication of your definition is that altruism is largely impossible to produce in a laboratory situation. I agree with that, but I'll have to contemplate whether I will accept any definition otherwise.