Subtle distortions in the idea of self-love

-Our actions can be universally tinged with evil without being universally corrupted by self-love. Some evils are lacks of self-interest, like the sort of personality that pours itself entirely out on exterior things or cares for the needs of others to the dissipation of the self.

-Even if every evil involves pride not every evil involves a desire to subjugate others to the self. Dissipation and self-corruption is easier if we subjugate everyone – including oneself- to the herd.

-Augustine showed that Scripture’s talk of the the flesh was simply to talk of a human. He was right about this but wrong to shift from what is human to the self, since what is human is both broader than the self and distinguished from it. We should re-write the description of two cities which are divided by one loving God to the contempt of the self and the other loving the self to the contempt of God by replacing “the human” for “the self”. One can love what is human to the contempt of God without exalting himself. Every Naturalist and Secularist does this in their opinion of science, regardless of how egoistic or altruistic they are.

-A closer look at Augustine’s words in CoG XIV. 28 show some nuance:

 [T]wo cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience.

So God is the witness of conscience, i.e. that which we experience as most of all the voice of ourselves.

-But even to switch from self to human will leave off a great deal. The conquest of the sensitive appetite (i.e. the brain) is better understood as a struggle with the self than a struggle with the human. But STA has shown that this is better understood as an attempt to establish the self than to destroy it.

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