to the poor is often considered an altruistic action.
Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the
welfare of others. It is a traditional
virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews, though the concept of "others" toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of
selfishness. The word was coined by the French philosopher
Auguste Comte in French, as altruisme, for an
 He derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning "
other people" or "somebody else".
Altruism in biological observations in field populations of the day organisms can be defined as an individual performing an action which is at a cost to themselves (e.g., pleasure and quality of life, time, probability of survival or reproduction), but benefits, either directly or indirectly, another third-party individual, without the expectation of reciprocity or compensation for that action. Steinberg suggests a definition for altruism in the clinical setting, that is "intentional and voluntary actions that aim to enhance the welfare of another person in the absence of any quid pro quo external rewards".
Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of
loyalty, in that whilst the latter is predicated upon social relationships, altruism does not consider relationships. Much debate exists as to whether "true" altruism is possible in human psychology. The theory of
psychological egoism suggests that no act of sharing, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly altruistic, as the actor may receive an intrinsic reward in the form of personal
gratification. The validity of this argument depends on whether
intrinsic rewards qualify as "benefits". The actor also may not be expecting a reward.
altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Used in this sense, it is usually contrasted with
egoism, which is defined as acting to the benefit of one's self.