Altruism, understood as doing something for someone else at some cost to oneself, is contrasted with selfishness. Ozinga argues convincingly that altruism is a natural part of human nature that it is not just found in a few rare people-- that it has evolutionary value and is exhibited in some manner by everyone. Nonetheless, most people seem to feel that selfishness rules human behavior. Altruism is considered an environmental addition to the human character, often seen as naiveté.
Ozinga attacks this view by examining the probable source of altruism--in the genes, in the concept of natural law, or in the instinct for social behavior. Various barriers to altruism are explored in the chemistry of a person, in terms of organized religions or ideologies, and in the goals people choose. Altruism, as Ozinga shows, is a multi-dimensional concept that can be understood and appreciated as a vital part of human nature.
About the Author:
JAMES R. OZINGA is Professor of Political Science at Oakland University./e He has written six books dealing with political philosophy and East-Central European government and politics.