restricted access Chapter 8.a How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

918 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 8a How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood b [I showed in a preceding chapter how equality of conditions developed among all men the taste for well-being, and directed their minds toward the search for what is useful. Elsewhere, while talking aboutindividualism,Ihavejustshownhowthis same equality of conditions broke the artificial bonds that united citizens in aristocratic societies, and led each man to search for what is useful to himself alone. These various changes in the social constitution and in the tastes of humanity cannot fail toinfluencesingularlythetheoreticalideathatmenform of their duties and their rights.]c When the world was led by a small number of powerful and rich individuals , the latter loved to form a sublime idea of the duties of man; they took pleasure in professing that it is glorious to forget self and that itis right a. 1. As men are more equal and more detached from their fellows, the idea of devotion becomes more foreign, and it is more necessary to show howparticularinterest merges with general interest. 2. This is what is done in America. Not only is the doctrine of interest well understood openly professed there, but it is universally admitted. 3. The doctrine of interest well understood is the most appropriate one for the needs of a democratic people, and the moralists of our time should turn toward it (YTC, CVf, p. 28). b. Former title in the manuscript: of interest well understood as philosophical doctrine. c. In the margin, with a bracket indicating this beginning: “Probably delete this.” doctrine of interest well understood 919 to do good without interest, just like God. That was the official doctrine of this time in the matter of morality [{moral philosophy}]. I doubt that men were more virtuous in aristocratic centuries than in others, but it is certain that they then talked constantly about the beauties of virtue; they only studied in secret how it was useful. But as imagination soars less and as each person concentrates on himself, moralists become afraid of this idea of sacrifice, and they no longer dare to offer it to the human mind; so they are reduced to trying to find out if the individual advantage of citizens would not be to work toward the happiness of all, and, when they have discovered one of these points where particular interest meets with general interest and merges with it, they hasten to bring it to light; little by little similar observations multiply. What was only an isolated remark becomes a general doctrine, and you believefinallythatyou see that man, by serving his fellows, serves himself, and that his particular interest is to do good.d []e I have already shown, in several places in this work, how the inhabitants of the United States almost always knew how to combine their own wellbeing with that of their fellow citizens. What I want to note here is the general theory by the aid of which they succeed in doing so.f d. “Democracy destroys the instinct for devotion, reason for it [devotion] must be found” (Rubish, 1). e. In the margin: “To delete I think./ “These paragraphs seem to Édouard to merit some small development./ “Explain why some affect to despise this theory.” f. Democracy pushes each man to think only of himself; on the other hand, reason and experience indicate that it is sometimes necessary in his own interest to be concerned about others. The philosophical doctrine of interest well understood as principal rule of human actions has presented itself to the human mind from time to time in all centuries, but in democratic centuries it besieges the human mind and entirely dominates the moral world. [To the side] The barbarians forced each man to think only of himself; democracy leads them by themselves to want to do so” (Rubish, 1). 920 doctrine of interest well understood In the United States, you almost never say that virtue is beautiful. You maintain that it is useful, and you prove it every day. American moralists do not claim that you must sacrifice yourself for your fellows because it is great to do so; but they say boldly that such sacrifices are as necessary to the person who imposes them on himself as to the person who profits from them.g They have noticed that, in their country and time, man was led back toward himself by an irresistible force and, losing hope of...


pdf