pursuit of material self- interest

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farzaneh.N

Member
Persian - Iran
Hi, can you please help me get what the following sentence means?

The historian and cultural commentator Tony Judt noted in a work published shortly before his death that there was something profoundly wrong about the way people lived their lives in the contemporary world: For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self- interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose.

Reference: Translation in the Digital Age by Michael Cronin
Thanks.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    It is criticizing "how people live", and making a general claim that "we" (everybody) thinks this way. Most people would not agree with the claims made in the bold sentence.

    The first claim is that we (everybody) "make a virtue of" selfishness: we think selfishness is very good.

    The second claim is that selfishness is our only shared goal ("collective purpose").

    The third claim is that all other shared goals have disappeared from society. This is the only one that "remains".
     

    farzaneh.N

    Member
    Persian - Iran
    It is criticizing "how people live", and making a general claim that "we" (everybody) thinks this way. Most people would not agree with the claims made in the bold sentence.

    The first claim is that we (everybody) "make a virtue of" selfishness: we think selfishness is very good.

    The second claim is that selfishness is our only shared goal ("collective purpose").

    The third claim is that all other shared goals have disappeared from society. This is the only one that "remains".
    Thanks for your helpful response.
     
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