“I am aware that I belong to a kind, and that this kind has a place in nature. I am also aware that I depend upon others in countless ways that make it imperative to seek their approval. Whereas the ‘I’ attitude seeks change and improvement, overcoming the challenges presented by nature, the ‘we’ attitude seeks stasis and accommodation, in which we are at one with each other and with the world. Things that threaten our need for adaptation, by utterly destroying our environment, by undermining human nature, or by eroding the conditions under which free cooperation is possible, awakens in us a profound sense of unease, even of sacrilege. The ‘we’ attitude recognizes limits and constraints, boundaries that we cannot transgress and that create the frame that gives meaning to our hopes. Moreover, it stands back from the goals of the ‘I’, is prepared to renounce its purposes, however precious, for the sake of the long term benefits of love and friendship. It takes a negotiating posture towards the other, and seeks to share not goals but constraints. It is infinite in ambition and easily deflected; and it is prepared to trade increases in power and scope for the more rewarding goods of social affection.”
▪ Roger Scruton, The Uses of Pessimism (Atlantic Books, 2010) extracts from pages 16 and 17.