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Altruism, understood as doing something for someone else at some cost to oneself, is contrasted with selfishness. Ozinga argues convincingly that altruism is a natural part of human nature that it is not just found in a few rare people— that it has evolutionary value and is exhibited in some manner by everyone. Nonetheless, most people seem to feel that selfishness rules human behavior. Altruism is considered an environmental addition to the human character, often seen as naiveté.
Ozinga attacks this view by examining the probable source of altruism—in the genes, in the concept of natural law, or in the instinct for social behavior. Various barriers to altruism are explored in the chemistry of a person, in terms of organized religions or ideologies, and in the goals people choose. Altruism, as Ozinga shows, is a multi-dimensional concept that can be understood and appreciated as a vital part of human nature.
- Topic Centers
The Genetic Possibility
Altruism as Natural Law
Altruism as Social Instinct
Barriers to Altruism
Altruism and the Addictive Brain
Rigid Religious and Ideological Organizations
Altruism and Absolute Goals
Invisible and Unacknowledged Altruism
Unconscious Altruism of Apparently Selfish Actions
Harmful Altruism--Rural Equality in Africa and Russia
Altruism and the Environment
Altruism as the Consumer of Sin
Recommended for all readership levels.