Item Details


Issue: Vol 17 No. 2 (2009)

Journal: Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism

Subject Areas: Philosophy

DOI: 10.1558/eph.v17i2.101


Civilization, rather than being an alternative to the state of nature, is instead its efficient form. The instruments and institutions of civilization—economic and political structure, law, culture, religion, war, etc.—are manifestations of humankind’s genetic predispositions toward cooperation and reason. The fabric of civilization comprises behaviors and institutions that coalesce around core beliefs that need not be objectively true. The principal cost of civilization is defined by the social obligations that individuals are compelled to incur, and the opportunities for private benefit that they are compelled to forego, all for the sake of maintaining an optimal degree of civil unity and trust. Disputes about these costs give rise to culture wars, civil wars, and clashes between civilizations.

Author: James A. Montanye

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