Monday, January 19, 2009

Thomas Jefferson on Self-Interest and Morality

clipped from
Self-Interest and Morality
"Egoism, in a broader sense, has been... presented as the source of moral action. It has been said that we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bind up the wounds of the man beaten by thieves, pour oil and wine into them, set him on our own beast and bring him to the inn, because we receive ourselves pleasure from these acts... These good acts give us pleasure, but how happens it that they give us pleasure?
Because nature hath implanted in our breasts a love of others, a sense of duty to them, a moral instinct, in short, which prompts us irresistibly to feel and to succor their distresses...
The Creator would indeed have been a bungling artist had he intended man for a social animal without planting in him social dispositions. It is true they are not planted in every man, because there is no rule without exceptions; but it is false reasoning which converts exceptions into the general rule." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, 1814. ME 14:141
 blog it

No comments: