Thursday, July 09, 2009

Intertwined Interests, Pt. II: Good and Evil

I. Evil

The interests of all matter just the same, for this is the Law of Love. Thus I must value your interests as I do mine. I may not, then, act in such a way that your interests are of necessity disregarded. But what sorts of actions are these? How might I act in disregard of your interests?

Two answers are possible. (1) I disregard your interests and have nothing to do with you. This is callousness. (2) I disregard your interests when I force you to act in such a way benefits only me. This is domination.

Here we have before us the two primary sorts of sin: callousness and domination. Of the two, the latter seems the worse. If I am callous, I at least leave you the space to pursue your own interests (whatever they may be). Granted I do not provide you the aid that you might need, but I least I do not seek to do you any positive harm. If I seek to dominate you, however, I do do you positive harm. I force you to act in disregard of your interests and thus, since we all of necessity think our own interests important, force you to act in a way contrary to our interests. (Do not think that Christian love of neighbor requires you to erase your own interests. It does not. It only requires that you not think them elevated over the interest of another. Christians are not required to be selfless. Instead they are required to hold that all selves - and this includes themselves - are of equal worth.)

Here then is evil: it is (conceived negatively) callousness, and it is (conceived positively) domination.

II. Good

Human interests are intertwined. (I'll shift, for sake of linguistic simplicity, to talk of goods.) We are made to love, and when we love perfectly, our good is achieved. But to love you is to seek your good. Thus my good is achieved only when your good is achieved, and your good is achieved only when my good is achieved. Our goods are then intertwined. I cannot achieve mine if you do not achieve yours; you cannot achieve yours if I do not achieve mine. Indeed my primary good is the role I play in the achievement of all goods, both yours and mine; and your primary good is the role you play in the achievement of all goods, both yours and all others.

There is only one good for humanity. The good for one is the good for all, and the good of all is the good of each.

Here then is good: it is the activity of all in the attempt to secure the good of each.


SDennis said...

just found this. so good to read you;
timely and of infinite interest.
ran into a classmate from bombardi's class; reliving our own brief, great electively philosophical moments.

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