2064. Law and equal distribution

Natural law

A long discussion in philosophy has been about law – is it in us to be good? The other side of this discussion has been to say, no, the good that is in us is because we are socialized to be this way.

It is another false opposition between two positions that are both correct. We have deep tendencies, for survival, for – by the time evolution gets us to be mammals – caring for young and often, as many animals show, for mates, and in herding animals protecting the flock against predators, horns outward from the circle toward the lions. Culture elaborates on these tendencies, creating new arraignments. The greek eco-nomy contain nomos which, before it became a general abstract term meaning  law  originally in pre classical Greek mean equal distribution⁠1. A concept is not developed unless it does some needed work. In this case equal distribution is affirmed probably in the face of  a tendency to unequal distribution. We should do as well now.

Where does a preference for equal distribution come from?  Hunter gatherers already had it, and settlement nudged toward fences and mine-thine, so the law was used to ty to keep the original idea of community.  This was consistent with the idea of the sacrifice, maintaining the fact of the kill with a ritualized procedure of division among the community.    Plato’s view was that law was built in, like geometry. Geometry just can’t be wrong, nor can “the good.” From this view natural law is what is given. Piaget’s more modern view is that the child can see the world from the perspective of another.  (The child is asked how the table  looks from the point of view of a doll at the other end). Piaget said this ability to take the view of the other plus compassion is the strata on which an ethical system emerges. Key here is that the result – lawful a feeling for the law  – is an evolution, a development, of the mind in relation to its experience of the world. This is a more fragile view and require renewal and defending.

Gardenworld require a new look at land and it management. It also requires something very hard – to shift our pleasures from owning to cooperating, from material stuff to pleasure in relationships – with people, animals and plants. Circumstances will force that, but may lead, instead of to cooperation and  caring, to mafias and militarization. Hard work ahead. 

I cannot stress hard enough how the ways of living of the most ancient humans has to teach us. The idea that nomos  meant equal distribution  started with the division of land in equal segments to provide for equal grazing of cattle. The evolution of culture was from equality towards hierarchy. By the time of Plato Laws means collections of legislations,  a bunch of laws,  not division of a whole  into  equal parts⁠1.

Gardenworld is   also aesthetic. From town to small secluded gardens, the architecture and the plants and the people  should flow together. We need to learn from the landscapers and the artists, the architects and designers how to do this. It might be that the shift from hunter gatherers to settled  groups was aesthetic – the plants looked good and could be arranged for effects. Gardens didn’t arise from the filaure of gathering  but more often found in places that were rich in native growth.


1 See Wendy Brown, In  The Ruins of Neoliberalsim and she refers to but does not emphasis Schmidt’s Nomos of the Earth  and his clarity around nomoi as equal distribtion. as a way of dividing up the land. when it is first distributed.

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