Neil Remington Abramson comments further, as follows (reproduced with permission):
I’ve continued to read about human nature in Mencius and Xunzi, two Chinese Confucian philosophers, contemporary with Plato and Aristotle. Both Mencius and Xunzi defined evil as “self interest” and good as social good. Western philosophy is much the same – at least Kierkegaard and Kant would have had the same view of evil and good. Plus, see Pope Francis; this isn’t an uncommon view today.
So we must live in a remarkably evil society when it is regarded as “irrational” not to always act in one’s own self interest, as one of my marketing colleagues proclaims, as a basic assumption in his research.
Protect yourself, say so many, academics and otherwise. But I note that Pope Francis is not like that at all. He lived with the poor, gave up his privileges and rode the bus–and they love him for it still. Just as, even 600 years later, they still love the original one, Francis of Assisi, after whom Pope Francis took his name, for acting similarly.
We really have to decide who is our exemplar – the one whose model we hope to follow. Is it Bill Gates? Is it a regrettably ex-partner, or a loyal current friend? Or is it Christ, and his loyal friend, Francis?
We may not have a right to judge others, but we should judge ourselves, when we act in self-interest, as opposed to with compassion or caring.