The Righteous Mind: Plato's Error
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Author:  DWill [ Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Righteous Mind: Plato's Error

Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
. JH praises Glaucon as the "guy who got it right--the guy who realized that the most important principle for designing an ethical society is to make sure that everyone's reputation is on the lime all the time, so that bad behavior will always have bad consequences."
I am stuck on page 74 (very beginning of chap. 4) - the three paragraphs on that page have stimulated so many ideas. The above quote reminded me of what I have always thought about small towns - they keep people honest. Yes, there are definitely - draw backs to living in a small town where everyone knows your business - especially if you are odd in anyway or simply different in a noticeable way. This is the old struggle between the individual and society. I really think it is a balancing act between the two. I suspect that environmental factors play a part in determining the degree to which a society is individualistic or collectivistic at any one moment in time. Some groups go too far in one direction or the other. Take for example the attitudes and practices regarding the value of a woman in India or the Middle East. Women seem to have little or no individual value. They only seem to have value as a necessary part of the larger group. I think this explains why the offense for which women are punished in these cultures are sins against the group or actions that interfere with their socially prescribed roles, such as wanting to get away from an abusive husband or being too western (Indian parents were just convicted in England of murdering their teenaged daughter because she was "too western" in their opinion). The punishments are extreme; death by stoning or setting on fire.

That might be true about the greater chance of a sub-group being discriminated against in a collectivist society. When people aren't so closely tied to one another, on the other hand, there would seem to be less means to enforce any kind of oppression against a sub-group, and there might be less of this feeling in the first place. I'm thinking now of slavery in the U.S., which of course has been individualistic, but back in the day we can assume it was more collective in nature. That individualism would tend to produce greater liberty for all people in a culture could be another benefit of an individualistic culture. 'Balancing act' does seem to be about the right way to put the tension between freedom and cohesion.

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