|Nature, you wrote:|
This idea of the family as the basic unit of society—and the corollary idea that it is everyone's duty to form into families... This is where the issue gets side-stepped a little. Duty doesn't exactly apply.
I can't help observe that "family" is present in all social organizations I am familiar with. I conclude from this that it fulfills a need of man's social nature. There is certainly a category of law - family law - that is present in all modern governments that I have had contact with.
There is a wonderful quote from an article by Ron Merrill called Eddies Enigma: Objectivism and Human Nature that I find pertinent:
If I encounter one duck, and it quacks--well, maybe it's a freak. If I look at several ducks, and they all quack--well, maybe their quacking is due to a disease. If I continue by examining dozens of local ducks, and they all quack--well, maybe somebody taught them to quack. But when I look into the matter thoroughly, and find that ducks in their hundreds and thousands and millions, domestic and wild, from all over the world, all quack--the most compelling hypothesis is that quacking is in the biological nature of ducks. Instead of trying to force the base concept of family under the concept of individualism or free choice (or worse, non-initiation of force!), I try to look at what exists. All human beings are individuals. That is true. But all human beings are human beings too. They belong to a species - and that species has attributes that are manifest throughout history.
Ignoring this... ignoring the nature of human beings is not the best way to define "individual" to me. It leads to looking at something like "family" and then dismissing it it as nonessential, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
(To be absolutely clear, I am not advocating traditional Christian family values or anything like that - I am stating that people organizing into families, regardless of the specific form of family, derives from man's nature - and I do not even deny exceptions like hermits.)
That is why I keep saying that there is a strong need for work on this from an Objectivist viewpoint.
(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 4/14, 2:26pm)