Tag Archives: Mark Twain

NL XXXVII: Civilization As Education

Index to this series

Knowing, from the previous chapter, what civilization is, we ask: How do we bring it about? Collingwood’s answer is to homeschool our children.

This is the New Leviathan’s first detailed piece of positive advice, and it may sound crazy. Rather than list reasons why, I want to see what sense can be made of the ideas.

Civility is respect (37. 15). To respect another person is to recognize their freedom (37. 14). To do this, one needs self-respect (37. 13).

Instead of respect, we may approach another person with servility, namely “the demeanour of a man lacking self-respect towards one whom he fears” (37. 17). The will to barbarism is just the will to servility (37. 19).

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926)
The Boating Party, 1893/1894, oil on canvas
Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art Continue reading

NL XXXV: What Civilization Means Specifically

Index to this series

Civilization is a process, from barbarity towards the ideal of civility (35. 1). The ideal itself, and any particular stage along the way, are also called civilization (35. 11). This is our understanding from the previous chapter.

Civilization happens to a community. Any member can refer to the community in the first person plural: it is a “we” (35. 24). There is the corresponding possibility of a “not-we” (35. 25), in the sense discussed in Chapter VIII, “Hunger and Love” (8. 16). The “not-we” can be relative (35. 28) or absolute (35. 27), according as, to its own members, it is a “we” or not. To us, a relative “not-we” can be a “you” (35. 28). I shall suggest that the “not-we” is always at least a “they,” although Collingwood uses this only for the relative “not-we” (35. 28).

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