Single Idea 6235

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism]

Full Idea

Though no creature can be called good merely for possessing the self-preserving affections, it is impossible that public good can be preserved without them; so that a creature wanting in them is wanting in natural rectitude, and may be esteemed vicious.

Gist of Idea

Self-interest is not intrinsically good, but its absence is evil, as public good needs it


3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], II.I.III)

Book Reference

'British Moralists 1650-1800 Vol. 1', ed/tr. Raphael,D.D. [Hackett 1991], p.180

A Reaction

Aristotle held a similar view (Idea 92). I think maybe Shaftesbury was the last call of the Aristotelians, before being engulfed by utilitarians and Kantians. This idea is at the core of capitalism.

Related Idea

Idea 92 Self-love benefits ourselves, and also helps others [Aristotle]