Self-Regulation Requires Fellow-FeelingJuly 21, 2021
Many liberals advocate the self-regulation as an alternative to regulation by governments and institutions. They usually borrow passages from Adam Smith who said that the government should not lay its hand on the freedom of individuals to act as they see fit. They say that invisible hand of self-interest is much better at regulating the self:
However, they fail to point out that before such self-interest is promoted, Smith advocated that fellow-feeling must be propagated first:
Before we can compare those opposite interests, we must change our position. We must view them neither from our own place nor from his, with our own eyes nor with his. Theory of Moral Sentiments
If fellow-feeling regulates self-interest, what regulates this fellow-feeling?
Self-regulation through the Conscience and the Common Interest
This fellow-feeling is regulated by our conscience for personal situations, and the commmon interest for social situations. Adam Smith calls this conscience and commmon interest as impartial spectator which is located in the heart. In Hinduism, this matches the heart chakra which regulates human feelings:
Thus, Adam Smith’s liberalism requires self-regulation which in turn requires the heart, which is then tuned to our highest personal ideals or those of our society.
How our Personal Moral Sense as our Conscience Regulates the Ego through Fellow-feeling with our Future Self
According to David Hume, each perception of our selves is a discrete identity which is separate from our other selves. It means that the you of now is a different entity from the you 1 second from now and the you 2 minutes ago.
The conscience corrects our current self X by projecting the mind onto our future selves Y and Z which will bear the consequences of the actions of our self X. This then makes us correct our actions to avoid future pain.
For example, the conscience of a diabetic person will make him think twice about eating sweets because it knows that it will produce bad effects later. It projects its from from its current self onto its future self and feels the pain or weakness of that future self. This pain or weakness then corrects the action of the current self, as to avoid eating the sweets.
How our Social Moral Sense as Our Sense of the Common Interest Regulates Our Actions Ego in Society
This conscience turns into our sense of the common interst when expanded onto the social dimension. We don’t punch others on the street because our minds project our selves onto the person that we intend to punch. We either foresee his pain or foresee his counter attack against us and feel our our pain then. This cognition of future pain makes us stop our action.
Our moral sense (the pain of future pain for ourselves or others) is usually overridden by the pleasures from own ego. For example, a corrupt politician knows that stealing is wrong. But the pleasure he gets from his ill-gotten wealth overrules the sense of the pain he is giving to others or the pain he is giving to his future self if caught.
A druglord knows that drugs are bad. But the pleasure from easy riches contradicts this bad feeling from his moral sense.
Hitler probably knew that invading other countries and killing innocents was bad. But the pleasure of seeing Germans dominate other people was far stronger than any pain from losing the war or sensing the suffering of foreigners and even his fellow Germans towards the end of the war.
Fellow-Feeling Should Come First
Before any action or policy is initiated, each person must have a fellow-feeling with his selves and with others. Without it, actions will likely be arbitrary and possibly hurtful to the self and others. Only when fellow-feeling and the moral sense is developed can self-regulatory policies be implemented.