Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

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Families and Society

The most interesting Chinese philosopher I have read is (surprise!) not Confucious, but Kung-Sun Lung-Tzu (公孫龍子). The second most interesting is Mozi (墨子), who I'd like to talk about a bit here. Mozi held the idea that one of the biggest causes of problems in society is the highly structured differences in how much people care about each other, and believed the path to a harmonious, peaceful society includes embracing a universal love that extends equally to all humans, from the emperor to the stranger on the street, from the foreigner to one's parents. Moist thought is also pacifistic and inward-looking, aiming for what might be called a secular enlightenment. Moist thought stands in stark contrast to Confucian thought, which suggests a very respectful, family-oriented perspective in society (as an aside, this is one of the things I love in classical Chinese thought -- their society had ideas and morals without a strong deific element, so their arguments still make sense today). I note a broadly similar theme in Trotsky in his discussions on Gender and Family -- Trotsky advocates day care and similar institutions in order to free women from the need to raise children, permitting them to join men as full equals in labour. By contrast, dominant and traditional views place close family ties and parents raising kids as the centre of the family, which some would say is the basic building block of society. People tend to build close emotional ties to their children which provide a lot of meaning for their lives. We can note that Moism stands in contrast to that (or at least removes its focus), while Trotsky's ideas may or may not conflict -- day care does not mandate lack of a close connection to children (although some would argue that it tends to create it).

A smattering of interesting things: I know some people who feel that it is immoral to have children given the number of children who need adoption, and others who internalise Darwinism to the extent that they feel it's stupid to adopt because it will not pass their genes on, making them a genetic loser. Does adoption blur the line between universal love and love of family? Is that a bad thing if it does? The people who base their ethics on Winning the Game of Evolutionary Psychology probably would hate Moism -- what do y'all think about it? Are there other good reasons for familial love over societal love? Is day care an instrument of social progress or an unpleasant necessity? Does it take a family to raise a child, or would really being raised by a village work? What would it be like to be raised in a true commune? Finally, a rather conservative couple I know feel, as I understand, that the role of women should be to raise the family. Is this to be lauded, frowned upon, or something more situationally appropriate? It'd be fine to say "Whatever the couple decides", but that does not answer the question of whether an expectation should be constructed that that's the way things normally be, raised into people since childhood.

As usual, I have opinions on most of these things, and the ideas of others mentioned here cannot, for the sake of consistency, all be shared by me.

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