There are countless examples of people who act in the interests of others, sacrificing their own comfort and safety, to help fellow human beings, living creatures, or the physical environment.
The acts of kindness, rescuing, generosity, self-sacrifice, and advocacy cover the spectrum of needs.
Egoism is opposed to altruism, which asserts that human beings should act in ways that help others.
Egoism is frequently associated with the early Greek hedonists, whose aim was pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain (The Columbia Encyclopedia 2002).
"Major universities have been founded, hospital and medical centers have been built, and social change agencies have come into being" (Russo 1991, 1).
Philanthropic gifts of time, talent, and treasure may result from complex motivations (ranging from the feeling of satisfaction that one has helped another to the tax-deduction gained from a financial contribution).
In a letter to Menoeceus, he wrote: We recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as a standard by which we judge every good.
(The Internet Encyclopedia 2002) Epicurus denounced the pursuit of pleasure when seeking it produced pain.
Modern psychologists have been challenged to reconcile the two seemingly mutually exclusive theories of altruism and egoism with the concept of an evolving self, a self that is enriched by a widening sphere of investments in others (Kegan 1982).
Similarly, Maslow's actualized self is one whose more basic needs (ie., food, water, safety, belonging, esteem, and respect) have been met, propelling the self toward higher development and a concern for others.