Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Evil to Him That Thinks It)
By Richard Girard
"Self-interest, or rather self-love, or egoism, has been more plausibly substituted as the basis of morality. But I consider our relations with others as constituting the boundaries of morality. With ourselves, we stand on the ground of identity, not of relation, which last, requiring two subjects, excludes self-love confined to a single one. To ourselves, in strict language, we can owe no duties, obligation requiring also two parties. Self-love, therefore, is no part of morality. Indeed, it is exactly its counterpart." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, 1814. Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; volume14: page 140 ; 1904.
There are times when I get hold of a subject, and I simply cannot let go of it until I have said everything I can think of to say on the subject. And Ayn Rand's quasi-philosophy of Objectivism definitely has me in bulldog with bone mode.
The quote from Thomas Jefferson above is my starting point today. Our nation's third President was a true polymath: an expert on broad areas of knowledge from history to economics to botany to law to agronomy to politics to literature. JFK was correct when he stated at a dinner for Nobel laureates that it was the greatest collection of minds the White House had seen since Thomas Jefferson had dined alone. When Jefferson donated his library to the Library of Congress to help replace the one burned by the British in 1814, there were some 6200 volumes in that collection. And he had read them all.
"But I consider our relations with others as constituting the boundaries of morality."
Let us examine this statement and its implications.
Do human beings who are on their own have any rational system of morality to practice or maintain?