Monday, September 22, 2014

Spontaneous Orders as Different as Day and Night

Some fascinating research on what Kalahari Bushmen talk about during different times of the day raise some interesting questions. One interesting question is this: might there be "daytime" spontaneous orders and "nighttime" ones?

Consider this:

  • During the day, the topics of conversation involve social regulation and jokes (the moral order) and economic issues (the various economic orders).
  • At night, the conversations typically involved stories and involved dancing and singing (the artistic orders), including stories of the supernatural (religious order).

It may seem odd that I include jokes in the "moral order," but comedy is typically involved in social bonding around ridiculing those deemed morally inferior. They thus act as reinforcers of the moral order.

Further, the moral order involves aspects of justice, leading to the emergence of the democratic order as well. Social control, whether direct or indirect, are thus "daytime" concerns. We can also see that there are explicit connections among issues of justice, morals, and economics (isn't this what most people are really talking about when they talk about the economy?). Too many economists during the 20th century tried to pretend economics was not a moral science, with the result that many ended up supporting either mere nonsense or immoral systems.

But what about our "nighttime" concerns? The arts and religion act to bind us together in different ways than do economic or political transactions. And, as much research has shown, stories have a moralizing effect through increasing empathy.

The night is when strong bonds are formed and strengthened; the day is when weak bonds are formed and maintained. Both are needed to have healthy cultures and civil societies. We spend a lot of time with the daytime orders (we even work well into the night); we need to spend more with the nighttime ones as well.
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Update: I expand more on this topic here.
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