Comment: The Theory on Moral Sentiments

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The Theory on Moral Sentiments

by Adam Smith is a pathway to better understanding of this subject.

Self Interest and Altruism are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are often the same. One can give plenty of examples where Self Interest can be called Altruistic and Altruism Self Interest. Smith points out the war between Hume (Self Interest) and Hutcheson (Altruism) was a case of two people ignoring pure morality (observing natural rights) and instead took polarizing positions on how to be moral. Mission vs Methods.

Smith shows quite smartly that both are required for true Happiness. In fact, Jefferson's "Pursuit of Happiness" is derived from Smith. Happiness is Self Interest in Combination with Altruism. One has the Right to pursue Self Interest and Altruism Freely, without Coercion. Sad how Americans are not Free to do either.

Rand's Objectivism is often confused with a lack of Altruism, however it is simply Voluntary Altruism (as she calls it Self Interest) for Forced Altruism is oxymoron.

Rand does hammer pure Altruism as evil/collectivism, however it is useful to understand her paradigm in order to argue against State Forced Altruism/Collectivism which was the model for the USSR and The US today.

Hutcheson's 'Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue' is not to be ignored either.