Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Justice and Community

Justice Lecture 11 by Harvard University

Click here to view the video on youtube

"I am never able to seek for the good or exercise the virtues only qua individual… we all approach our own circumstances as bearers of a particular social identity. I am someone's son or daughter, a citizen of this or that city. I belong to this clan, that tribe, this nation." – Alasdair MacIntyre

"Hence, what is good for me has to be the good for someone who inhabits these roles. I inherit from the past of my family, my city, my tribe, my nation a variety of debts, inheritances, expectations and obligations." – Alasdair MacIntyre 

This lecture discuses obligations associated with our social identity. Questions arose of patriotism and debts to family. It is easier to feel a great obligation to your own community than to others. I believe this is mainly due to our capacity to empathize. It is easier to connect to someone through a shared experience; empathy becomes less relevant because we don't need to imagine the experience of another. Empathy is required when they have experienced a situation that is alien to us. We have to imagine the experience and this is a difficult task. There are so many images of suffering in the news and we can cope with exposure because it is a situation that is so removed from our own lives. Sometimes we need an experience in order to understand, it isn't simply a capacity to feel for another. Many of us are capable of a profound feeling for another human being, understanding their experiences is something far more difficult.

Justice by Harvard University http://www.justiceharvard.org/
To read my thoughts on earlier lectures click on the label at the bottom of the blog that reads Justice by Harvard University.