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Ch. 11 - The Rare Virtues of the West 
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Post Ch. 11 - The Rare Virtues of the West
This thread is for discussing Chapter 11 -The Rare Virtues of the West. You can post within this framework or create your own threads.

Chris O'Connor

"For Every Winner, There Are Dozens Of Losers. Odds Are You're One Of Them"




Sat Jul 03, 2004 9:39 am
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Post Chapter 11
boy, this is a chapter title that will get one started :lol

Harris spends a lot of ink early in the chapter on the idea that in order to create a coherent society, it must be shame and the societies ability to shame its members that is what keeps the society in line. While I agree that shame is significant, I think this is only part of the picture. For example, other fears, such as potential loss of liberty, can have the same effect as shame. In fact, this is what is necessary when shame does not work. As another example, 'civil' society coexists with racists, in part because it is not obvious that another is a racist, but also because racists don't usually run around with sheets on their heads looking to get arrested.


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It explains whey religious education has always consisted of instilling a set of automatic and mindless prohibitions in the child's nervous system, long before any effort is made (if any effort is ever made) to convince him of the truth of this or that article of faith
Well, I don't know Harris, but it seems that he's never tried to teach a child anything. A parent doesn't wait until the child can reason before teaching the child what 'hot' is in order to make sure the child stays away from the stove or open flames.


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Yet without this illiberal and universal inculcation of shame, no community would be able to achieve the trust system that is indispensable to all liberal societies

Please, please, PLEASE! Can some one explain to me what is illiberal about shame?


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Reason for the first Protestants was not merely the slave of passion; it was its whore. p 186

Can someone confirm this? I aways thought that protestantism was what allowed the 'age of reason' What am I missing here? Harris also seems to claim that Protestants are responsible for conscience. Is this possible?
THE ETHICAL COMMUNITY AS THE HIGHEST STATE OF FREEDOM
Harris spends a lot of time here poking fun of Joseph Campbell's idea of follow your bliss. But I think he is misunderstanding Campbell. Campbell is not advocating hedonism. Instead, he says to do what gives you inner peace. If everyone's inner peace is to become an ice cream maker, well, many of those people will find that making ice cream for a living doesn't give them bliss for long. The system will be self correcting. You can still count on others to fulfill contracts, act civil, defend the country, etc. They just won't be told what to do.


Harris makes the claim (p191) that we would have seen more stability, spontaneous cooperation, tolerance and abstention from violence in Adam Smith's Glasgow than Caligula's Rome. But someone confirm this would be the case with more modern examples? South American and Africa were being colonized during the 14th - 17th centuries. What about comparing Smith's Glasgow to his contemporary China or Japan? I don't know much about Far East history. Any comments?




Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:03 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 11
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for it means that the conditions that produce a hight degree of civilization, including the same system and the various constructive illusions required to produce and sustain it, must now be seen as necessary condition of that civilization and not as primitive holdovers form an outmoded tradition...
So, Harris comes to his big conclusion. The thing that makes us civilized is necessary for civilization. Unfortunately, what Harris misses is that he has not shown that it is sufficient. What other factors untold are part of this civilizing process. According to Harris, it is only shame.


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Eliminate the idleness and you help to eliminate terror. p193
WHOA! Harris very early in this book suggested that trying to examine root causes would prove futile. Should he retract the statement? If so, which one?!
THE ART OF WESTERN LEADERSHIP
Harris's claim here is that sovereign's could not arrive until after the protestant reformation. What am I missing? Didn't they have sovereigns in Jerusalem, in Ancient Rome??????




Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:25 pm
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