The person who doesn’t regard their own inclinations with suspicion – realizing the very human tendency to excuse our own behaviour – ┬áis bound to give more weight to feelings that may lead him to a bad outcome. For instance, such a person might consider their adulterous wanderings as simply being “not phoney” – thinking that such skirt-chasing is natural and even wholesome (“better than living a lie!”), and thereby endorsing their own breaking of vows, of any amount of dishonesty, cheating and betrayal.

A moment’s thought shows how silly that is. Nobody admires a coward, who after all, is just being true to his instincts for self preservation: he might be full of patriotism when he puts on the uniform, but as soon as the bullets start flying his feelings change and he deserts his post. Never mind that such an act of cowardice could allow enemy troops to gain a foothold resulting in the deaths of fellow soldiers.

The most successful civilizations are those who have realized the truth about human nature and built in appropriate safeguards into their constitutions. For any sort of sane civilization to exist there needs to be a certain amount of self-control that relates standards – a morality – that everyone agrees to. To have our actions governed merely by how we feel is to be unstable, undependable, and unfaithful.

 

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