Monday, October 20, 2008

Self-Love : The Economics Perspective

Alright, this is 90% cut and paste work, but it's worth a read.

“Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favor, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Every individual neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it.

He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”

Adam Smith - Passages from The Wealth of Nations.

Main reason why I'm studying Economics. It justifies all kinds of evil in a logical way.


discordantdude said...

bro, though we can dispute smith's conception of the economic man (homo economicus), we nonetheless must acknowledge that there is a difference between 'self-interest' and 'selfish-interest'. taken into context, i think the former is more appropriately smithian, and thus not actually 'evil'.

wadefish said...

great insight bro. now that you mentioned the difference between self and selfish-interest, it's another perspective altogether. guess i mixed them up, that's why you get the last sentence in my post. maybe i just wanted to justify selfishness. oh well, at least i know adam smith doesn't have distorted values like mine. haha.