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Balance is All

By any name the great problem that all societies must solve if they are to survive and thrive is to find the proper balance between the opposing forces of individualizing and binding, or autonomy and community, or Liberty and Equality.

A quote from The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization seems to echo this idea:

Virtually every eighteenth-century artistic endeavor from poetry to music and painting was governed by rules drawn from Aristotle’s Poetics and Book II of the Rhetoric (Locke’s personal favorite).† Politics and moral thinking—and the Enlightenment was the century of great moral debates—were also dominated by the problem of how to reconcile the social virtues described in Aristotle’s Ethics with the political processes set forth in his Politics. The result was Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, not to mention the American Constitution.

No political system that depends too heavily on a subset of moral foundations such that one of the competing concepts dominates the other can ever be expected to find that balance, and is more likely to descend into chaos and collapse from the inside than to survive and thrive.


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