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I find myself explaining this so often in life that it probably belongs here.

One definition of altruism is:

Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
And a definition of selflessness is:
Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish
I contend that, by the definitions listed above, there are no such things as altruism and selflessness. I believe that every action we take, we take because we believe it to be in our self-interest.

Having said that, different people can have extremely divergent views of what their self-interest is. Some people seek the emotional pleasure they derive from being good to other people. I like them. Some people avoid the emotional pain they would feel if they weren't good to other people. I like them, too, though I think it would be good for them if they could motivate themselves more based on positive rather than negative outcomes. But in either case, I would argue that this is what we perceive as altruism. It's still all based on self-interest.

Then you have people who don't derive pleasure from being good to others, who don't feel pain when they're not good to others, or both. They're no more self-interested than the perceived altruists, but because their emotional pleasure and pain are tied to their own direct experiences rather than the effect their actions have on others, we perceive them as egoists.


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