Enlightened self interest (Why even bother trying to sleep... well... other than to let my hands rest... which isn't happening with all this blogging)

The tension between left and right can be thought of as a pull between collective idealism and individualism.

However, the philosophers of the right, in explaining how a society without left-wing thinkers would work (i.e. without anyone willing to do anything they don't want to do) tend to eventually come up with the idea of "enlightened self-interest". This is because eventually short-sighted self-interest leads to the destruction of society (society, after all, being a collective endeavour), and with it the individual.

The neat thing to observe is that the more "enlightened" the self-interest becomes, the more concerned with the happiness and well-being of our fellow man we must become. That is, enlightened self-interest is a doctrine which suggests that one must look beyond our immediate needs and see if those around us are likely to need something.

Now, it gets couched in the language of fear (they'll either take it, or leave the society bereft of some resource, or something similar if they don't get it), but this is basically the same message as seen on the left wing (we have to look out for all members of society, to provide a chance at happiness for everyone (or at least the bulk of the populace) if we are to have a functioning society). It tends to be a more cynical and harsh look at the problem, but the ideas get closer the more convicted and convincing the thought gets on either side... a sort of political loop.

The thing that got me up was this phrase running through my mind (the thought above not being particularly new): "sufficiently enlightened self-interest is indistinguishable from collective idealism". (With apologies to the magic:science guy :) ).


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