February 15, 2017



Altruism (from the Latin the alter – The other) – the value orientation of personality, focus on selfless assistance to other people, other people prefer the interests of their own interests. As a principle of life – “live for others» ( «revile pour outer”), opposite to egoism, it was proposed by one of the founders of sociology, Auguste Comte. The concept of “altruism” in his scientific works used in line with the concepts of “solidarity”, “morality”, “social”. Comte interpreted solidarity as a universal property of all natural phenomena, which reaches its climax in the community and to act in it in the form of a consensus; except synchronous, it has a diachronic aspect, providing the connection of generations through tradition (Hoffman, 2012: 98). Biological roots of altruism stressed and Pyotr Kropotkin, appealing to the lack of intraspecific fighting instinct of mutual aid, which people borrowed from the animal world (Kropotkin, 2007). The rationalistic approach to the explanation of altruism is based on the “usefulness”, “benefit” of altruistic behavior to social groups, society and the individuals themselves (Spencer, 2008: 231-232). This approach is presented and reciprocal evolutionary theories, theories of “rational egoism”. Under this approach, altruism has its own measure of public interest are considered only its moderate symptoms, self-sacrifice does not fit into the norm.

A comprehensive sociological analysis of the nature of altruism spent Sorokin, on the initiative and under whose leadership in 1949, the Harvard Center for the Study of creative altruism was created. The origins of altruism, he connects with the social and cultural world, which considers as a result of human victory over the biological inclinations and selfishness. Types of cultures inherent social values largely determine the behavior of the person (Sorokin, 2006). This “energy culture” is a factor uniting people, social groups, leading to the unity and harmony. This conclusion formed the basis of “Mysterious Power of Love” project, which has started to implement Sorokin in Harvard Center for the Study of creative altruism. His concept of altruism and love – synonymous. Love is analyzed in different aspects: ethical, religious, ontological physical, biological, psychological and social. “Meaningful interaction or relationship between two or more people, in which the expectations and aspirations of one person are separated and receive support in their implementation by others” is a love of the social aspect (Sorokin, 2002: 13). The creative altruism manifested in solidarity, good-neighborliness, support, and mutual assistance.

The sociological approach is implemented in the proposal of measurement of love through indicators such as intensity, extensity, duration, cleanliness and value. To the highest form of manifestation of love, Sorokin considers “action by which a person freely gives to other significant values for themselves – health, life, soul, happiness» (Sorokin, 2002: 15). In most cases, the boundaries of love are determined by the priorities of the interests of family members and friends. A small group of people («great altruists” such as Christ, Buddha, Confucius, St. Francis of Assisi, and others.) Can be active love towards strangers. Group limit eventually leads to altruistic tendencies out of group antagonism. Sorokin pointed out a pattern: the higher the intragroup solidarity, the more there are conflicts with other groups. In relation to the “other” may be very different forms of violence. The solution to this problem Sorokin seen in the formation of the universal altruistic values. The concept of creative altruism Sorokin has been criticized for “unscientific.” Of course, it did not fit into any of the known in the period of its creation sociological paradigms. However, an appeal to the creative concept of altruism is very important for the modern Russian society.

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