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One is, in the last analysis, free. The right choice, for love, often requires humility and a dash of humour; it may also require time. Indeed, as we go through life making discoveries about ourselves, which are not all good news, we have recurring crises of self-love and with each of them we may need time to reconcile ourselves to ourselves again. Moral evil I said a moment ago that some authors maintain that self-love, or excessive self-love, is a vice and the root of all immorality. As I have maintained in another book, however, moral evil involves not selflove but its opposite.

Commenting on the commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” Augustine said: “First see if you have learned to love yourself… . For if you have not yet learned to love yourself, I am afraid that you will cheat your neighbour as yourself,”16 or be as mean to your 15 16 May, Power and Innocence, p. 138. Augustine, Sermon 128, chap. 3; PL, 38,715. See John Burnaby, Amor Dei, p. 116. 30 Part 1 Self-love & Love in General neighbour as you are to yourself. ”20 If, then, someone does not love others, the reason is unlikely to be that he loves himself too much; it is more likely to be that he does not love himself enough.

27 Selfishness, then, is not excessive love of self, or even disordered love of self. It is not love of self at all. Erich Fromm says: Selfishness and self-love, far from being identical, are actually opposites. 28 We shall see in the course of this book that most of the deviations from true love spring ultimately from self-rejection. Self-love is free Certain thinkers whom I shall discuss in the next chapter maintain that self-love is universal and necessary, and they derive all other love them, treats them badly and humiliates them.

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