Interconnectedness and neighbour-loving

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 19th, 2007

Altruism, in the sense of regard and care for the good of other persons, is a crucially important aspect, but only one aspect, of the sort of regard for the goods of human life that is characteristic of the kinds of social and personal relationships it is best and most excellent to have. An ideal of altruism as antithetical to self-love, to be realized in a community in which each person would care for the good of all the others but not at all for her own good, is bizarre. It is as bizarre and inhuman as an egoistic ideal to be realized in a society in which each would be moved only by prudent self-interest. A more excellent sort of altruism will be one in which one enters sympathetically into a concern that one hopes, and in most cases believes, that the other person has for her own well-being. It will also not exclude a concern for the excellence of human lives, and human relationships, for their own sake. The relatively abstract notions of altruism, benevolence, and self-interest may bring a useful precision to our thought in certain contexts. I suspect, however, that the totality of an excellent concern, admiring as well as nurturing, for human good, relational and shared as well as individual, is better summed up in the richer biblical terminology of loving other people as oneself.

A Theory of Virtue by Robert Merrihew Adams (ISBN 978-0-19-920751-0)

Published in: Books | on October 19th, 2007 | Permanent Link to “Interconnectedness and neighbour-loving” | Comments Off on Interconnectedness and neighbour-loving

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