ALTRUISM.—The theory which makes a regard to the happiness of others the basis
of moral distinctions, or constitutes a phase of the Utilitarian or Greatest
Happiness theory, standing in contrast to Egoism, which was the earlier phase of
the doctrine. Egoism makes personal happiness the end of life; Altruism insists
that we must find our own happiness in that of others. In contrast not only with
the Egoism of Hobbes, but with the more benevolent scheme of Bentham, both Comte
and Mill held "that the more altruistic any man's sentiments and habits of
action can be made, the greater will he the happiness enjoyed by himself as well
as by others" (Sidgwick's Outlines of the History of Ethics, p. 257).
J. S. Mill says:—"Pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable
as ends" (Utilitarianism, p. 10). But, he adds, the "standard is not the
agent's own greatest happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether"
(ib., p. 16). "Utility would enjoin that laws and social arrangements should
place the interest of any individual as nearly as possible in harmony with the
interest of the whole " (ib., p. 25).