The Perils of Benevolence

Roger Kimball has a very good post discussing the perils of benevolence. My favorite passage is this quote from James Fitzjames Stephen’s book Liberty, Equality, Fraternity:

The man who works from himself outwards, [Stephen wrote] whose conduct is governed by ordinary motives, and who acts with a view to his own advantage and the advantage of those who are connected with himself in definite, assignable ways, produces in the ordinary course of things much more happiness to others … than a moral Don Quixote who is always liable to sacrifice himself and his neighbors. On the other hand, a man who has a disinterested love of the human race—that is to say, who has got a fixed idea about some way of providing for the management of the concerns of mankind—is an unaccountable person … who is capable of making his love for men in general the ground of all sorts of violence against men in particular.

Read the whole post.

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