[ExI] Religions and violence.

Jebadiah Moore jebdm at jebdm.net
Mon Aug 2 07:15:10 UTC 2010

Hi, I'm new here.  My name is Jebadiah Moore, pleased to meet you.

2010/8/2 samantha <sjatkins at mac.com>

> The "community" is only a collection of individuals.  It has no special
> rights that trump those of the individuals it is composed of.

I'm not going to go into rights or how they should be assigned, but I think
your assumption that a community is "only" a collection of individuals is
faulty on two levels.

First, you can look at "the principle that the good of the community takes
priority over that of the individual" as saying that whenever  a decision
must be made where one option aides many and one option aides only one, the
"right" choice is the one which aides the many.  I don't think this is quite
how Hitler meant it, but it is quite possible to create a rule favoring the
community (= a group of individuals) without recognizing any special status
of a community separate from its constituents.

Second, and more importantly, a community ought to be thought of as an
entity in its own right, not just as a collection of individuals.  Saying
that a community is only a collection of individuals is like saying that a
human is only a collection of cells.  It's true, in the sense that a
community is composed entirely of individuals (well, plus perhaps some
cultural artifacts, memes, etc.), but it's a bad way of looking at things
because it makes you miss the forest for the trees.

Now, whether or not you want to assign value to the community separately
from individuals is really your call.  But it's pretty clear that it's
worthwhile to view a community as an entity (due to various emergent
phenomena), and that a lot of people do view communities this way, and that
people *value* communities this way.  In particular, they seem invested in
trying to maintain the stability, influence, and "essence" (as they perceive
it) of the communities they belong to, both during their own lifetimes and
into the future.  Perhaps this is a social simulacrum of the evolutionary
drive to support your gene pool.

Regardless of whether you value communities separately or not, it seems
quite possible to make the argument that, at least in many forms, the
assignment of value to communities and the resulting behaviors work to
decrease individual happiness.  Of course, I can also think of ways in which
valuing the community increases individual happiness.  I'd love to hear your
arguments, since you seem to feel strongly about this ("The widespread
belief that it does is precisely what makes horrors such as Nazism
possible.  It is what is destroying even that one time symbol of deepest
appreciation of the individual and individual rights, America.").

Jebadiah Moore
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