Revisiting Comte to understand altruism better

Ewan, Glenn (2009). Revisiting Comte to understand altruism better. In: The International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, (). 12-16 July 2009.

Author Ewan, Glenn
Title of paper Revisiting Comte to understand altruism better
Conference name The International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology
Conference location University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
Conference dates 12-16 July 2009
Publication Year 2009
Sub-type Oral presentation
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Altruism is a contested theme of interest across many disciplines and fields, including philosophy, sociology, evolutionary biology, and socio-biology. Strangely, very few scholars of altruism are aware of what Auguste Comte actually meant by his theory of "altruisme". Comte was a philosopher of science and society, and he founded the discipline of sociology. The widespread misconception concerning the earliest meaning of altruism is partly due to the scattered manner in which Comte discussed the term, neglecting to offer a formal definition when he first discussed it. This misconception also occurs because philosophers and early sociologists who followed Comte, such as Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim, either misunderstand Comte's meaning, or wanted to remove the more eccentric influences behind the term. They subsequently re-conceptualized its definition, influencing generations of scholars to come. However, there were two particular concepts within Comte's theory which could be reintroduced today, as they offer a clarifying and liberating affect upon the philosophical discussion and the applied research of altruism. The first concept, was that altruism referred to any inclination to benefit another person, not merely "sacrificial helping". The second, was that altruism provided mutual benefit, to the recipient and to the altruist. The potential implications of this understanding will also be discussed.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Tue, 31 Jan 2012, 17:03:44 EST by Kimberly Dobson on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry