John Brown wrote:My original point was to clarify that Sommers wasn't talking about "chivalry." She was talking about being "civilized," which implies the overall construct of civilization.
As for the definition of civilization, you're right...it's completely subjective in narrow terms. In broad terms, it just means people getting together to take advantage of a manual division of labor. With that comes any number of regulations, laws, and morals so said labor can be carried out.
In my view, nature must first be conquered before civilization flourishes, but it is the construct of civilization which generally keeps us in check from being brutish. This is why the whole "rape is about power and not sex" trope is complicated (at best) and flatly untrue (at worst). Occurrences of rape do tend to happen when civilization breaks down (as people like Stephen Pinker have pointed out). But, so do other atrocities.
I will be repeating myself again on this, essentially, but maybe putting it differently will help get the message across better [not that "you've got some thoughts based on premises that you should think through a bit more"
was very direct to begin with]. I think there is enough reason to believe that the organizing of "society"
(I'm substituting it in for "civilization"
, since I feel like your definition includes parts that are unnecessary in a discussion about human interaction) *IS* part of human "nature"
term might be problematic as well, as far as semantics go, so I will give you my
brief definition and you can tell me if you disagree or not. Nature
, concerning behavior, is how something is innately inclined to behave
Now, seeing as how morality is most likely innate for us (as it has also been observed and recorded in other group-living animals, and it is plain to see why it would be naturally selected for in group-living animals), I don't see any reason to believe that society/civilization is an outcome of "conquering nature"
. Society/civilization is
an outcome of our nature. The only way that society/civilization could be seen as a "conquering [of our own] nature"
, would be if one believed we were no different from every other animal...
Believe me, I understand we can go down a rabbit hole of semantics very, very quickly in this discussion. We are "civilized" but we engage in wars which have killed tens of thousands of people in the past ten years, for example.
I also agree with your point about Euro-centrism. We have an very nasty habit of viewing most everything through that lens. You wanna talk about atrocities? Just a cursory glance at Chinese (or Asian) history makes everything any European power ever did look like peanuts.
If you lump all of the "Asians"
into one homogeneous group, then yeah. That might seem like so. But "Asians"
are not some homogeneous group. And I'm not just talking about differences between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, ect. Tribalism, I'm sure you know, happens on a level much more "micro"
than that. When you accept that morality is relative (do you disagree?), and that this morality does not apply to "out-groups"
, then you might not come to see all of the fighting done between and within these nations as atrocities.
This last point probably seems to contradict a point that I brought up earlier, but my "And as if 'civilized' people have never committed atrocities."
quip was kind of a throwaway that I didn't put much thought into.