SOCIETAL VIRTUE AND THE MEANINGFUL LIFE


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African Proverb

 

 

As we ascend the ladder of reality from the self, past the proximate, we enter the cultural realm with historical contextualization, the fixtures of community and nation, and the canopy of humanity itself.  One can imagine a meaningful life absent society, but each of us would struggle to live very long outside it. A clever person can figure out much alone, but no one can develop in a single lifetime even a fraction of the knowledge that is available from the compendium of human scholarship. In addition, beyond basic  necessities and knowledge, society offers devices and conveniences which transform life from stark subsistence to civilized comfort.

Intelligent, ethical people recognize that the reciprocation for society’s benefits is societal virtue specifically service and duty. These are the mortar that cement the individual bricks of human communities. I will not now repeat the earlier section on deontology,1 but urge readers to return to those posts to refresh their understanding as I have myself done. Rather we now address the location of social virtue on the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

We will need to break this into parts; first discussing the the notion and significance of service within society. From there we will investigate features of common or universal duty and the four types of extraordinary social virtue. Along the way we will listen to a historian’s synthesis of superlative social virtue and meet some of his examples from the past.  We will close with a synopsis of this level of virtue in the meaningful life.

Join me next time when we take up the important concept of service.

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1See posts on this site titled Societal Duty Parts I and II (12/21/2018, 12/24/2018, 12/26/2018 and 12/ 28/2018) and the Table of Duties in the Appendix.

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