In this post, I would like to discuss the concept of altruism. First, I admit that it may be difficult to acknowledge that some people in our world are truly selfless and willing to help others so that they (the “others”) benefit. However, a news article published just three days ago (September 22nd, 2014) claims not only that altruism exists, but also that there is biological evidence for it:
In this article, it is mentioned that an immensely kind-hearted and selfless lady, Angela Stimpson, donated a kidney to someone she did not even know. In my opinion, such an act is an example of true altruism because the motive is clearly for the benefit of the organ recipient. Abigail Marsh, mentioned in the article as one of the most famous researchers of altruism in the US, agrees with me. Fascinated by altruism, she decided to investigate whether any biological evidence exists for this phenomenon. In a research study, she imaged the brains of 19 altruists (those who had donated a kidney to a stranger, including Angela Stimpson) and 20 non-donors to compare brain size and also took MRI scans of her participants while they completed computerized tests. She found that the amygdala, a region of the brain heavily involved in emotional response, was noticeably larger in the altruists than the non-donors. Furthermore, she found that the amygdalae of the altruistic participants were more sensitive to images of “people displaying fear or distress” than those of the non-donors.
These findings are truly exceptional because they provide sound biological evidence that altruism is a legitimate phenomenon that exists in our world. Additionally, they undermine the cynical viewpoint we discussed in class that everyone in the world is an egoist and performs good deeds only for self-satisfaction. After all, only a true altruist would donate their organs for the good of others.