I listened to a professional historian being interviewed who claimed that a man's honor in previous centuries was largely a matter of protecting his rank or social status.
There is a type of reductionism which says that all romantic love is but lust disguised; that charity is always either guilt, tribal solidarity, or sentimentality; or that fear, greed, and pride are the real foundations of work and human achievement.
I don't want to refute such ideas so much as hold them to the same standard of scrutiny. Yes, it is true that many of our ancestors aspired to honor and defended their honor for selfish reasons. In fact, that was known at the time, as writers reveal to us that there were men who were "touchy" about their honor, and overquick to defend themselves because they dimly knew they were dishonorable. Folk wisdom has long cautioned the young against confusing passion with true affection. The New Testament spends a fair bit of energy warning us against doing "good" things for bad reasons. Why is this cynicism considered some new revelation, to shout down the better natures of others?
What a small, impoverished world the reductionists live in, to be the only noble souls in a world of sinners. Even if they grant better motives to circle of their own, they must see themselves as swimming in a polluted sea all their days.