I don't contest this point. I agree. What I don't agree with is the importance of mentioning it.
No, this conversation could just as easily be about evil or about something with no moral implications. Again, you have not put forth an argument about the morality or lack thereof of altruism, you're arguing that all actions are hedonistic.
And I'm willing to stipulate even that to you. I'm not arguing against that point.
My point is that downstream from this initial cerebral process that produces decisions and actions, we have ways of differentiating one kind of action from another. And given a scenario where someone can choose lots of personal benefit, but instead chooses less personal benefit with the intent of conferring that benefit on another person, THIS is where we would apply the category altruism.
In other words, under the umbrella of all our self-interested actions, there is a category of actions that fits our conception of altruism, whether or not that's ultimately true at a self-conscious level.
Now, someone else here mentioned that there is anthropological evidence that we have evolved to recognize and perform altruistic deeds, and this is demonstrated among other animals, too. One can clearly see how it might be advantageous to do so. So I think it is probably a false dichotomy to separate self-interest from altruism, because fundamentally it is in our best interest to live in a society in which altruistic acts are condoned.
In the above quote you said " And given a scenario where someone can choose lots of personal benefit, but instead chooses less
personal benefit with the intent
of conferring that benefit on another person".
YOU SEE this is where your idealistic propensities reveal themselves. The sequence of the actual empirically verifiable process (firing of synapses) reveals the HUMAN AXIOM that SELF-INTEREST is satisfied FIRST, which logically indicates that their to NO SUCH THING as someone choosing less benefit for themselves, because the ability to make the decision in the first place indicates MAXIMUM SELF-INTEREST CONSUMPTION, and YOU CANNOT UNCOUPLE THIS PROCESS.
Look it, let me provide a different view for you. The less personal benefit scenario that you used above is simply false, while I can certainly measure the empirical evidence of giving $8000 out of a $10,000 windfall to charity, the giver, while having less money, STILL ACHIEVED MAXIMUM SELF-INTEREST, because that is what he or she decided, and you cannot uncouple that process with idealistic interjections of merit.