Thursday, July 16, 2009

I See Monkeys

A thought provoking article. Please, don't dismiss it automatically just because it is published by Cracked.

The monkleysphere (the sphere of individuals around us that we actually care about) fits into a lot of thoughts I've been having lately.

For instance, I think it explains why both expansive liberalism and individualized libertarianism ultimately fail. The former requires us to think of everyone as being part of our monkeysphere while the latter requires us to think of our monkeysphere as only being ourselves. Human beings, sane human beings, just don't work thatway. We care about other people, but we can't care about everyone equally.

I don't like it when politicians use phrases like the common good. We place to great a burden on people when we expect them to weigh their actions based on how it effects everyone. It's just to big.

It is better to think in terms of what is the greater good for your circle of acquaintances (your monkeysphere) and then expand on the idea of what the monkey is. The monkey devotes itself to advancing (1) its family, (2) its neighborhood, (3) its community, (4) its state, (5) its country, and finally (6) its world at increasing levels of abstraction. At each level the monkeysphere expands, but the monkeys are no longer individuals. They are the equivalent units at the same level.

When you think about helping your family, it is the family members helping out other family members. When you think about helping out your neighborhood, you think about it in terms of families helping families. When you think about helping your community, you think about it in terms of neighborhoods helping neighborhoods. When you think about helping your state, you think about it in terms of communities helping communities. And so on, all the way up to the world being a monkeysphere where countries help countries.

The monkey gets around its limited ability to empathize with the monkeys on the other side of the world by thinking instead of its country as one monkey (a monkey-country) caring about other monkey-countries.

We're all in this together, but I don't have the time or the inclination to save everyone in the world.


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