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 naivete.
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.
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