Single Idea 8060

[catalogued under 1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 5. Later European Thought]

Full Idea

It was in the seventeenth and eighteenth century that morality came generally to be understood as offering a solution to the problems posed by human egoism and that the content of morality came to be largely equated with altruism.

Gist of Idea

In the 17th-18th centuries morality offered a cure for egoism, through altruism


Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue: a Study in Moral Theory [1981], Ch.16)

Book Reference

MacIntyre,Alasdair: 'After Virtue: a Study in Moral Theory' [Duckworth 1982], p.212

A Reaction

It was the elevation of altruism that caused Nietzsche's rebellion. The sixteenth century certainly looks striking cynical to modern eyes. The development was an attempt to secularise Jesus. Altruism has a paradox: it needs victims.