General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

Which is greater, Love or Altruism?

Asked by Yellowdog (10892points) June 24th, 2019

Love starts out as a bonding we have with things we need: things we feel a part of, or things that make us complete. Maybe a person or even a homeland, or things we need to associate with, So, in that regard at least, it starts out as filling our own need.

Gradually we love because things we love depend on us. We are happy to give, and get, and take care of the needs of people, animals, and things we care about.

As love matures, love compels us to love even when we get nothing in return. Maybe our spouses are no longer attractive to us, and other things we care about become a burden. But because of love, we are compelled to make tremendous sacrifices and be all-giving,

In the Bible, Jesus says to love our enemies. Here is where it becomes difficult—to love those whom it would be unnatural. Its tough to be commanded to love because love comes from within, Its a more realistic challenge to merely ACT like you love your enemies and do good things for them.

Then comes Altruism: the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.

That is, doing things for the well being of others even when you don’t have that inner ‘love’—no inner need, bonding, or investment in one’s full self; just a desire to do the right thing,

So, is it better to LOVE, in which we do things for people or causes because we LOVE them, and its real— or to instead be Altruistic and do good things for other’s benefit even without a personal inner need being there?

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10 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

I suppose altruism then, as I am able to help a lot more people than I know/ love.

Still working on the whole ‘loving thine enemies’....

Yellowdog's avatar

As a Christian, THAT kind of love has to come from God. God’s love, or the Holy Spirit, through us. Because although we can ACT as if we love our enemies, it doesn’t come welling up from within us naturally, without God.

flutherother's avatar

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body,a but have not love, I gain nothing.

!st Corinthians 13

anniereborn's avatar

IMO there is no such thing as altruism. You may not have love or a bond involved there, but make no mistake you are filling a need within yourself.

Yellowdog's avatar

I think you are right—but is it true that SOMETIMES people have a personal “bond” with the person, cause, homeland, individual —

—and sometimes people merely do it because its RIGHT?

Mr. Spock will help you, but he does not love you.
Someone else may say, “I LIKE you and I’m going to help you.” in so many words.

kritiper's avatar

Love is, generally speaking, more powerful. The definition of “altruism” isn’t very complex whereas love, if anyone knows or admits to it, has far reaching, far ranging meanings despite what the dictionary might say and the heart may feel.

kritiper's avatar

Edit ‘greater’ instead of ‘powerful’ in the first sentence of that last post of mine.

justinefoong1983's avatar

There is no way of answering this question without learning the actual intent of the individual in question. Both love and altruism can be for selfish reasons but also for selfless ones. A charity run by a company, for example, may have the ulterior motive of improving their reputation and the desirability of their products and/or services. A seemingly compassionate social worker may just be in it to feed her ego and gain social validation – from what I know being well-liked is a strong motivator for many people. On the other hand, all the inverse reasons could also be true. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

LostInParadise's avatar

Altruism is a form of love, even if it is only driven by a sense that, in some small way, you are making the world a better place.

gorillapaws's avatar

“I would jump into a river to save two brothers, but not one…Or to save eight cousins but not seven.”

-J. B. S. Haldane on altruism

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