22 Rising above altruism

On one level, the word altruism is the empty set.  It has a definition but contains no elements.  Why no substance?  Psychological hedonism teaches that selfless concern for others gives satisfaction, which is a selfish reward.  (Nothing is completely selfless.)  To avoid circular reasoning, let us rephrase the question.  We ask merely whether an action is beneficial.  There is no need to isolate a beneficiary or to define “selfish” by distinguishing self from others. Self-oriented passages of the Old Testament are isolationist and genocidal, separating “us” from “them” (the group level of “self” and “non-self”).  On the other hand, some …

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