Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quote De Jour

"The degree of intellect necessary to please us is a fairly accurate measure of the degree of intellect that we possess." Helvétius, De l'esprit, 1758.


More of Helvétius' Utilitarian opinions - according to Wikipedia:

1. All man's faculties may be reduced to physical sensation, even memory, comparison, judgment. Our only difference from the lower animals lies in our external organization.

2. Self-interest, founded on the love of pleasure and the fear of pain, is the sole spring of judgment, action, and affection. Human beings are motivated solely by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. "These two," he says, "are, and always will be, the only principles of action in man." Self-sacrifice is prompted by the fact that the sensation of pleasure outweighs the accompanying pain and is thus the result of deliberate calculation. [Harsh... but fair.]

3. We have no freedom of choice between good and evil. There is no such thing as absolute right – ideas of justice and injustice change according to customs. [e.g. murder is wrong, but Abraham sacrificing Isaac is OK.]


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