Altruism and Christian Ethics (New studies in Christian by Colin Grant

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By Colin Grant

Separated from its anchorage in faith, ethics has the social sciences in seeing people as essentially characterised by means of self-interest, in order that altruism is both naively idealistic or arrogantly self-sufficient. Colin supply contends that, as a contemporary secular notion, altruism is a parody at the self-giving love of Christianity, in order that its dismissal represents a social leveling that loses the depths that theology makes intelligible and faith makes attainable. He argues that to dispense with altruism is to dispense with God and with the divine transformation of human percentages.

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Richard E. Sykes, ``Toward a Sociology of Religion Based on the Philosophy of George Herbert Mead,'' in Sociology and Human Destiny: Essays on Sociology, Religion and Society, ed. Gregory Baum (New York: Seabury Press, 1980), pp. 171f. Evidence of altruism 37 interest became explicit in the attempt to be truly scienti®c about politics around the middle of the twentieth century. 7 So deeply does this assumption run that political scientists are even prepared to sacri®ce rationality to preserve the egoistic characterization of humanity.

The tenacity with which it is held and the comprehensive scope of its in¯uence suggest that what is involved is something much broader than sociobiology or even than modern biology as a whole. The precariousness of claims to be operating with a peculiar biological and genetic sense of altruism is betrayed by the enthusiastic vendetta against any and every semblance of altruism. M. T. Ghiselin is under no illusions that the explanation is con®ned to the genetic level. Where it is in his own interest, every organism may reasonably be expected to aid his fellows.

Life builds up from individual units to form aggregates. There is no wider unity beyond this aggregation itself. : Greenwood Press, 1973 (1952)), pp. 18f. , p. 32. , p. 47. , p. 28. Silvan S. Schweber, ``The Origin of the Origin Revisited,'' Journal of the History of Biology 10/2 (1977): 280. 24 Alien altruism of the intimate interrelatedness of life in preference for a mechanistic individualism demands explanation. None is more obvious than the direct acceptance of the laissez-faire economic vision that was moulding the fabric of his own society.

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