Primary Source: Russell on Ethics: Selections from the Writings of Bertrand Russell (1999). p. 109
I first chanced on this quote from: Thomas Morris. Philosophy For Dummies (1999 1 ed). p. 87.
In the quote emboldened beneath, what did Russell intend to say by:
'cooperation with oneself'?
[...] Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this develop- ment, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance, and we can have no security that the impartial outsider would agree with the philosopher's self-complacent assumption. This point has been illustrated by the philosopher Chuang Tzu in the following instructive anecdote:
The Grand Augur, in his ceremonial robes, approached the shambles and thus addressed the pigs: 'How can you object to die? I shall fatten you for three months. I shall discipline myself for ten days and fast for three. I shall strew fine grass, and place you bodily upon a carved sacrificial dish. Does not this satisfy you?'
Then, speaking from the pigs' point of view, he continued: 'It is better, perhaps, after all, to live on bran and escape the shambles.
'But then,' added he, speaking from his own point of view, 'to enjoy honour when alive one would readily die on a war-shield or in the basket.'
So he rejected the pigs' point Of view and adopted his own point of view. In what sense, then, was he different from the pigs?
I much fear that the evolutionists too often resemble the Grand Augur and the pigs.
The ethical element which has been prominent in many of the
most famous systems of philosophy is, in my opinion, one of the most serious obstacles to the victory of scientific method in the investigation of philosophical questions. Human ethical notions, as Chuang Tzu perceived, are essentially anthropocentric, and involve, when used in metaphysics, an attempt, however veiled, to legislate for the universe on the basis of the present desires of men. In this way they interfere with that receptivity to fact which is the essence of the scientific attitude towards the world. To regard ethical notions as a key to the understanding of the world is essentially pre-Copernican. It is to make man, with the hopes and ideals which he happens to have at the present moment, the centre of the universe and the interpreter of its supposed aims and purposes. Ethical meta- physics is fundamentally an attempt, however disguised, to give legislative force to our own wishes. This may, of course, be ques- tioned, but I think that it is confirmed by a consideration of the way in which ethical notions arise. Ethics is essentially a product of the gregarious instinct, that is to say, of the instinct to cooperate with those who are to form our own group against those who belong to other groups. Those who belong to our own group are good; those who belong to hostile groups are wicked. The ends which are pursued by our own group are desirable ends, the ends pursued by hostile groups are nefarious. The subjectivity of this situation is not apparent to the gregarious animal, which feels that the general principles of justice are on the side of its own herd. When the animal has arrived at the dignity of the metaphysician, it invents ethics as the embodiment of its belief in the justice of its own herd. So the Grand Augur invokes ethics as the justification of Augurs in their conflicts with pigs. But, it may be said, this view of ethics takes no account of such truly ethical notions as that of self- sacrifice. This, however, would be a mistake. The success of gregarious animals in the struggle for existence depends upon coop-eration within the herd, and cooperation requires sacrifice, to some extent, of what would otherwise be the interest of the individual. Hence arises a conflict of desires and instincts, since both self- preservation and the preservation of the herd are biological ends to the individual. Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself. Hence, by reflexion, it comes, through the operation of social justice, to recommend sacrifices by oneself, but all ethics, however refined, remains more or less subjective. Even vegetarians do not hesitate, for example, to save the life of a man in a fever, although in doing so they destroy the lives of many millions of microbes. The view of the
world taken by the philosophy derived from ethical notions is thus never impartial and therefore never fully scientific. [...]