I should like the more serious-minded among my readers to go slowly and carefully through this essay. It would help them understand more clearly an important part (though, admittedly, only a part-) of the goals, ideals and principles I have tried to live by ever since I started to think (and that was a long time ago!)
No one has the full truth, of course, least of all professional philosophers. The contrary position, generally called utilitarianism, has led to much good in this world – from the abolition of slavery and legally sanctioned torture to the spread of democracy and literacy to all the wonders of technology harnessed to capitalism. I am no Luddite; I should be loth to subscribe to a naïve ‘revolutionary’ (actually very ancient-) back to Nature/ back to basics zeitgeist. As I often remind people, think of having your teeth pulled out without anesthesia whenever you are feeling too romantic, too peeved with the contemporary world and its ways. And yet, as the poet says, ‘God fulfills Himself in many ways/lest one good custom should corrupt the world’. Much that is wrong or bad about the world today might have been the consequence of utilitarianism pushed to absurd excess in every sphere of life. One begins to suspect as much when one finds that thinkers as disparate as Aristotle and Karl Marx and a Pope have had deep misgivings on the subject.
It all boils down to the question of ‘What is Man?’ or ‘What do we mean by human worth?’ Do read the essay, and get back to me. This is a question on which I should love to hear comments from young and old, male and female, highly educated and barely literate alike.