[lit-ideas] Re: Two Sisters in Love

  • From: "John McCreery" <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2006 15:41:19 +0900

On 11/2/06, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

My doubts about Miller's conclusion sympathize with the criticisms such
cultures as the Chinese have of the American.  Is our complexity, our lack
of innate goodness truly the standard for all mankind, or is there another
way of looking at these matters -- a way we've forgotten?

Interesting question, this. I wonder if the problem isn't what some
would call our American hyperindividualism. If we start with the
assumption that society is nothing more than a collection of
individuals and all value depends on their idiosyncracies, then
conversation is reduced to "I see it this way" versus "Well, I see it
that way," with little hope of persuasion and nothing left but to walk
away or resort to force.

Historically most societies, Chinese, Japanese, old European,
whatever, assume values and principles that everyone is supposed to
share, at least within their national boundaries. International
agreements and laws assume, in addition, that some values and
principles transcend national boundaries. That, however, is only an
extension of the basic proposition that you, I, everyone who counts as
one of "us" shares a common framework to which we can turn when
attempting to adjudicate which of our claims is closer to something
all can agree on. The values and principles to which we resort
transcend the idiosyncracies that make us the individuals we are. They
give us a structure in relation to which we can all  be eccentric
without either flying apart or beating each other's heads in.


John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN

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