Personal Interest And Common Good Analysis

Great Essays
Conflict of the two goods: personal interest and common good
1. Introduction
Human beings face a dichotomy: although we are self-sufficient beings, we are also social animals who seek to unite with others. While mankind’s main concern is for the preservation of the self, this is amplified and made complicated with the addition of the interests of others and the society. How is it possible for man to balance his own self interest with the common good in the midst of two seemingly natural human states? This dynamic relationship between the self and society inevitably presents a conflict, a conflict of interests between the personal and common good. This contradiction is explored in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract and Huang Zongxi’s
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Although Huang blames the prince in brining “the greatest harm in the world” by not looking out for the common good (Huang, 92), he proposes reforms to governmental roles and laws to discourage the prince from leaning towards his self-interest. In order to keep the prince accountable, Huang advocates about the importance of the prime minister position, where the prime minister is tasked in “making up for [the prince’s] own deficiencies” and carrying out governmental tasks (Huang, 101). The prince is thus forced to treat the prime minister with respect, and, as a result, common good prevails. Huang also proposes the prince to implement “law without laws”, whereby the looser the laws, the more effective it is. Such laws uphold the common interest of the people as the “law without laws”, unlike the “un-Lawful laws”, do not express interests and estrange any particular social class (Huang, 98). These proposals differ greatly from Rousseau’s social contract. While Rousseau encompasses everyone in the Sovereign in forming the general will of the society, Huang utilizes a top-down approach in which the actions and decisions of the prince dictates the common good and well-being of the society. Also, Huang’s approach appeal to the virtue and goodness of the prince to suppress his …show more content…
As it is man’s natural inclination to promote his self-interest and preservation, Rousseau and Huang both acknowledge that this urge is detrimental to the common good of society; a slight lean towards private interest would immediately jeopardize the fabric of the common good. In view of the plurality in balancing the two goods, Rousseau presents a social contract that is by the people and for the people, whereas Huang advocates for additional accountability for the prince to act in accordance of the common good. Although they differ in their resolution of balancing the two goods, they advocate their respective system of governance with mechanisms designed to uphold the common good of society over the self-interest of the

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