Theory of Moral Sentiments is not a hymn to ‘charity’. It’s about the moral social harmony of society, not from people loving each and everybody else, but from their anonymous dependence on each other, most of whom they never know of, nor need to be concerned about two or more links along the chain of connections among them. Whereas family connections are framed in social bonds among the members, with diminishing intensity of the bonds as friends and then acquaintances are considered, finally diminishing to zero as the vast world of strangers comes into contact. But our market connections continue productively whether we act from love or indifference and anonymity, if there is a ‘mercenary exchange of good offices’ between us, and we breach no laws and cause no harm. Going to the extreme of selfishness (‘greed is good’) is neither necessary nor appropriate. Absolute independence is from long-gone past ages of mankind in which self-sufficiency was a virtue, perfect equality ruled, and everybody was poor to the same degree (and life spans were shorter). Commercial society changed all that. Absolute dependence of all on everybody else is today’s virtue (Rousseau was wrong!), inequality is its price and everybody is ‘rich’ to different degrees (the poor in the rich countries are incomparably better off materially than the poor in any previous societies), and life spans are longer.
Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.