Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(1,130 words)

1. Definition

In the Middle Ages and the beginning of the early modern period, as a rule, self-interest (Latin propria utilitas) and public interest (Latin publica utilitas) represented two related but antithetical concepts. Public interest, understood in the sense of “mandatory altruism” [2. 599], served to guide the conduct of individuals and the state. In the context of theological, politico-philosophical, and moral discourse, the ideal…

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Hering Torres, Max Sebastián, “Self-interest”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 29 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_018600>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210601

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