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Altruism and Altruistic LoveScience, Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue$
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Stephen G. Post, Lynn G. Underwood, Jeffrey P. Schloss, and William B. Hurlbut

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143584

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195143584.001.0001

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The Tradition of Agape

The Tradition of Agape

(p.51) 4 The Tradition of Agape
Altruism and Altruistic Love

Stephen G. Post

Oxford University Press

Altruistic love is the epitome of human altruism. It implies acts on behalf of the other, but beneficent acts can flow from a variety of motivations. The evolution of altruism across species is linked to the preservation of offspring, and the most hard-core manifestation of this is the occurrence of maternal altruism. The altruist is someone who does something for the other and for the other's sake, rather than as a means towards self-promotion or internal well-being. The altruist no longer sees the self as the only center of value but discovers the other as other. Altruistic love adds the feature of deep affirmative affect to altruism. Agape is altruistic love universalized to all humanity as informed by theistic commitments. Altruistic love in humans is expected and nearly ubiquitous on the parent-child axis.

Keywords:   altruistic love, altruist, agape, parent-child axis, epitome

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