On the subject of responsibility, becoming an adult, etc. I’m very interested in accounts of the culture of native Americans in 19th century, mostly the tribes of the plains, because they present a society that it’s in many ways the polar opposite of ours.

There was a high degree of personal independence mixed with a strong expectation of social duty. For instance, a man (women too) could go into the country, by himself with minimum clothing (in the summer) and bow and arrows and survive quite comfortably until he got bored. He had all he needed, for free, around him.

And yet, the intricacy of what was expected of him in his social group was beyond what any modern person experiences.

And not only it wasn’t questioned but was strongly desired. Every account I have read, (Wooden Leg, Charles Eastman) described a blessed childhood that’s lovingly remembered while being pervaded by a strong yearning for emulation of the adults and an eagerness to occupy a dignified place in their society. It’s a way of being human that’s unrecognisable nowadays.

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There is the Golden Rule among hoi polloi. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", which is quite universal and is older than Matthew.

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I wonder if you might define what you mean by "education". Is it possible to be educated without knowing how to think? IMO, while there are a large number of “Intelligent, and well- trained " people the West, there are very few one can term “gebildete”. Current universities churn out “Fachidioten” by the gross who, per Enzensberger, are "characterless opportunists". Catherine Liu's book "Virtue Hoarders: The Case against the Professional Managerial Class (https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctv1fkgbjx )" is a nice follow up to those by Christopher Lach.

Ishmael Zechariah

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Oh, absolutely. I meet and hear such people all the time. Part of the problem actually is personality. There are plenty of people whose main concern is to know what they should think, in order to fit in. Others simply and automatically take the opposite point of view to confirm their status as dissidents. Liu's book is very good by the way.

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Noam Chomsky says that the factors predicting success in our “meritocracy” are a “combination of greed, cynicism, obsequiousness and subordination, lack of curiosity and independence of mind, [and] self-serving disregard for others.” So when journalists see “Harvard” and think “impressive,” I see it and think “uh-oh.”

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One conclusion that I came to is that, for most people, on most topics, it's not worth having a "strong" view on. We neither nor care enough to have considered, logically consistent, and "informed" views on more than a handful of things. On most "less germane" things, we merely try to go with the flow, so to speak, to minimize offending your friends, family, and colleagues. Certainly, people will have certain topics on which their views are in fact, strong, enough that they are willing to risk offending their friends and neighbors over, but if the friendships and family ties are valuable enough, their friends and family would know such triggers and avoid stepping on them.

So it seems to me that opinion formation hasn't really changed much over time, but our society is. On the one hand, people don't have diverse array of friends/family/colleagues. If you have friends in opposing camps who might be offended by one view or the other, even if you don't have an interest in the topic, you'd be careful in forming your opinion if you want to keep both friendships. You insist on topics that aren't that germane to you only if you consider your ego more important than your friendships, which says a lot about state of friendships in modern atomized world. Of course, there are plenty of forces that limit your interaction with people with different worldviews from one particular set of people anyways--at least not very closely. So the lack of incentive to be careful in forming your (alleged) opinions on things that you don't know or care much about is redoubled.

I think Skinner was more right than not: very few people have "real" opinions that are not merely reflections of their social networks. If "liberalism" in its ideal form presupposes that people's opinions and worldviews are somehow foundational at the individual level and aggregating them should form the basis of how societies should be run, that's a dangerous delusion.

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West Eurasian (European) nations are resolving to throw off their vassalage to DOS, CIA, USAID, NED, and The Atlantic Council. In train of that, they will throw off "woke"and "green" because they realize they need knowledgeable, competent populations in all facets of society in order to earn as well as maintain their sovereignty. In this direction, Russia leads the way, thank God!

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"They simply demand the use of violence to destroy whatever happens to offend their ethical sensibilities for the moment."

Oh, I think Vicki Nuland and her ethno-religious claque cultivate more content in their Russophobia than "sensibilities of the moment."

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On the micro (person to person, small clan to small clan) level, I 100% agree with you.

However, in my opinion, I believe such nuance can't be scaled up to the mass media level.

everyone is free to disagree, i understand why.

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I think that, paradoxically, liberalism works best within a gradually expanding framework of hard borders; where movement of one of the boundary markers, in the name of social progress, is undertaken after consideration has been given to the consequences and the practical measures that might be taken to mitigate any negative impact. Slow, well-structured progress, bolstered by a general consensus, is the kind most likely to stick. That personal mindset was formed during the years that I spent working in a hospital setting where I was steeped in risk management culture.

Unfortunately what appears to be happening at present is the wholesale crossing of lines and tearing down of walls without any thought as to what might occur as a result. Often what follows not only undermines or compromises what it was hoped would be achieved, but also eats away at the foundation upon which the whole enterprise rests. Furthermore, in my experience, the kind of revolutionary firebrand who imagines themselves bro-posing back-to-back with Che Guevara, harbours only very vague notions of what they might build in place of whatever they have gleefully destroyed. Even when they do have a concept for an improved society, they generally lack the competence, the people skills and the commitment to realise their vision. There is a prevalent notion among this type that somebody else will do the work while they graduate to some supervisory sinecure.

A few years ago, San Francisco turned its misty-eyed gaze in the direction of Detroit, as large parts of that former industrial powerhouse were slowly being reclaimed by nature and said: “Hold my craft beer.”

Since then the city officials have effectively decriminalised shoplifting. They have failed to prosecute violent criminals or have allowed them to roam free on negligible bail. They have reduced law enforcement to a skeleton crew, some of whom have not undergone the most basic background checks, such as confirmation of US citizenship. The city has become host to a growing homeless population with the attendant delights of alfresco defecation and drug use. A recent meeting of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors had to be postponed after a tweaker cut through a fibre-optic cable, claiming that they were attempting to rescue someone who was tapped inside the 6-inch deep hole.

I will mention at this point that I have slept rough in London. I used to bed down in the graveyard of St Sepulchre without Newgate. As a result of that experience I am more sympathetic to the homeless in some regards, but have adopted a harder stance in other areas.

Businesses, that include large box stores, are beginning to move out of San Francisco, while the incumbent mayor begs for federal assistance to fight the crime wave that she helped to create

A further step in the direction that San Francisco appears to be heading brings us to the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone, which occupied a pair of Seattle intersections for just under one month. While the residents of the CHAZ, as it was referred to during its early days, were ardently forming themselves into equitable committees, a self styled warlord moved in and began handing out automatic weapons. I believe there were three shootings in total and either one or two murders. I saw a video of a beating where the thugs who had taken control over the zone described themselves as the new police.

I am very interested in how morality operates at the finer end of things – in small social groups or organisations where the moral norms differ from those found just outside. The author J G Ballard explored this dynamic very well in his novels. I imagine most people have been in a situation where they have found themselves in conflict with a group morality that seems to have strayed from what might be acceptable in wider society.

Recently, I have been rewatching 'Horace and Pete' – Louis CK's tragic-comedy web series, set in a one-hundred year old Brooklyn bar.

In the first episode, an accountant, who is attempting to grapple with the idiosyncratic finances of the business, struggles to equate his conventional notion of bookkeeping with the arrangement around Uncle Pete's salary, which consists of him of taking what he needs from the cash register at the end of the day, before banking the remainder. The accountant's horror over the bar's habitual watering down of its alcohol by 50% is met with good humoured acceptance in a straw pole of the patrons. Uncle Pete argues that if the bar served full-strength liquor their customers would have all died years ago.

In the same episode, a lawyer argues that, in the absence of a will, ownership of the bar should be divided equally between the adult children of the recently deceased proprietor. Uncle Pete remains adamant that this is not the way things have ever been done at Horace and Pete's. For one-hundred years, ownership of the bar has passed from father to first-born son (all of whom are named Horace) who will run the business with a blood relative named Pete, usually a brother or a cousin.

These wayward microcosms of morality are the norm for most of us. They usually helmed by a dictator; a domineering personality capable of maintaining a consensus that will eventually be overturned and replaced by something different.

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I don't think the status of organized religion is too different in America: plenty of people, people in important places, do want to turn religion into gutless humanism (and they are genuinely puzzled that there are people who could possibly want it to be otherwise.). It may be true that there are many people, a lot more than there are in Europe, who want to a religion that "matters," but there's no consensus among what it should be and their influence is far smaller than people think, except on occasional symbolic matters. US never produced the likes of Adenauer or Schuman. The closest that we had was William Jennings Bryan who has in the past 100 years been reduced to the butt of bad jokes (on the basis of his embrace of creationism, and quite unfairly, too, as he embraced creationism in reaction against Social Darwinism and "scientific racism," a couple of decades ahead of time, too--his hard turn to creationism came in 1920s, when there were commentators in US writing casually about using gas chambers to "clean" the human gene pool.)

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". . . what is the general principle of which that opinion is a particular example?"

That I am I.

Come one, Aurelien, Descartes had this long ago, Sankaracharya even longer ago.

Ever noticed that everyone in this breathing world names themself "I."

Everyone has the same name. What does that imply?

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"At least, I don’t know of any cases where a philosopher has stoutly defended views which they personally find unattractive or distasteful because they believe them to be objectively true."

Logical straw man. Any philosopher who finds something "objectively true" won't find it unattractive. And if they do -- classical Cynics lived like dogs, filthy, mendicant, beggars (latterly, mellifluous Franciscan Friars), the Greek word for which (kunikos) means dog -- they find that manner of living very attractive because it is objectively true.

None of us is a beggar in this breathing world? Ever asked someone for a job? Ever applied for admission to a school? Ever submitted a funding request? Ever asked someone to marry you? Ever asked someone to do something for you? Ever tell someone, "You need to . . ." ?

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In trying to avoid the holy wars and warriors, I think you take it too far. For I think today's holy warriors (the woke) have taken your ideas on ethical relativism fully to heart, if not to mind. For if ethics are fully subjective, then the motivations will be whatever they experience as a subject most powerfully (i.e., their emotions, though this is only as the West is relatively prosperous - baser desires like security, hunger, and shelter may soon override). In addition, if ethics are fully relative and subjective, then there is nothing to discuss - there is no arguing that you should prefer tea to coffee. When ethics is fully subjective, there is no shared objectivity for reasoning, and therefore how might we adjudicate ethical disagreements except by force. And therefore you have the woke. For if you insist on being one of those abominable coffee-drinkers who participate in the willful destruction of indigenous lands and peoples, and I can't argue you into preferring tea ... well then I guess I just have to force you to stop.

I would recommend a less aggressive position that there are indeed values which are widely shared in humanity across time and space (justice, care for neighbors and poor, respect to parents, duty of parents to children, willing sacrifice for others, etc.). And when they have gone missing in a particular time or place, it is generally a tragedy. But that said, they often conflict or seem to, and so it's hard to establish a balance. Further, human intellect is limited and so is our language, and so we can never perfectly define our ethics - we can only see them through a glass darkly, and they can only be handed down imperfectly. And of course we all fail to live up to our ideals - you can call that hypocrisy if you like, though I just call it the human condition. If we can remember that humbly, we can retain rational discussion and tolerance for those whom with we disagree. With this, you can retain 99% of ethical disagreements, however, you just can't totally dismiss the underlying premises - they must remain in the realm of objective value.

You'll probably recognize this as a poor summary of Lewis' argument in Abolition of Man, though he of course borrowed from his predecessors heavily as well. Forgive my inability to do his argument better justice.

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"This would be less of a problem if human beings were better at constructing moral and ethical theories that were both consistent, and properly and logically thought out”.

Confucius managed it and, after spending 1,000 years discussing and experimenting with his moral, ethical and political theories, adopted them and still uses them.

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Sir: I suppose that you have decided what I will be writing about for publication Monday. Thanks for the idea seed. I would comment here, but the question of “what is the general principle of which that opinion is a particular example?” Requires that I spend a great deal of my upcoming sojourn by train to Spokane writing and rewriting a response

But mostly, thank you for the hint about Ismael Lô!! Listening to his "Senegal" album now.

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