Giving to the
is considered an altruistic action in many cultures and religions.
Altruism (or selflessness) is concern for the
well-being of others. A truly altruistic act is something done completely for the benefit of another, without concern for the self. It usually involves
sacrificing something (time, effort or
possessions), with no expectation of receiving anything in return (including recognition for the act of giving). It is considered a
virtue in many cultures and a basic aspect of most
religions. It is the opposite of
Altruism is different from acts done out of
obligation towards a specific individual (such as a
king or a
government). Whether "pure" altruism is possible has been debated by
scholars for thousands of years. One theory says that no act of giving, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly selfless, because the person will receive personal
gratification from it (that is, a
satisfaction that they have done something good for another). Whether this theory is correct depends on whether such feelings qualify as a 'reward' or 'benefit'.
The concept of altruism has long been studied in
ethics. The term was originally used in the 19th century by
philosopher of science,
Auguste Comte. It has become an important topic for
psychologists (especially those that study
evolutionary biologists and
ethologists. The scholars of each field have developed different ideas about altruism. All agree that altruism is caring about the welfare of other people and acting to help them.