Reasonings on Community, Part V: Learning in Community

The book of Community includes practical ideas for helping a community work, like the itinerary, which requires the community members to comment on a blog. The purpose of the itinerary is to incite people to conversation, to blend their minds with each other and to stimulate a dynamic intellectual life in the community. This is in line with Adler’s assertion that conversation, dialogue is what creates community spirit.

According to the book, natural community has a core: “what we learn together”, over which it has sovereignty and which it shapes. Community can be understood as a series of projects of shared learning.

The Indias community makes use of contextopedias–the glossaries that blogs use to bring together a certain learning and use it to contribute new things–in order to facilitate this process. These are updated once in a while and evolve as they learn.

There is nothing more rebellious or against the grain than philosophizing.

Naturally, when a community has a robust intellectual life, there will emerge differences of opinion. Conversations, however, remain friendly and these differences are never an excuse to remove oneself from one’s friends.

We don’t enjoy our friends because they have made the same choices as us, but because we can enjoy them in everything that makes them different from us.

Also, in line with this, Indianos attack ideology as a bad source of social cohesion. Ideology is said to desubjectify the individuals that make up a community, that is, turns them into objects at the mercy of arbitrary ideas and takes away their individuality, agency, and identity, and ultimately their freedom.

“There is no true belonging in dogma or in competition between dogmas … there is inverse belonging: people “belong” to the truth, to the “common good”–a set of values and a way of doing things which is unique and supposedly accessible through reason, if we free ourselves of the bonds of private interest. That’s why the narrative of the “common good” is necessarily totalitarian. Enlightened universalist reason is nothing more than the penultimate copy of the monotheistic God.

The “common good”, if it exists, is not a self-evident truth, which is why it doesn’t work as reason for community. Quite the opposite, the universal “common good” is necessarily exclusive in the concrete and real world: if the reason for community is to lay the foundation for a new society that must be able to welcome all Humanity, then “the correct position”, the “right path” will be more important than the real peers with whom we debate. The universalism of the “common good” desubjectifies community, moving the focus from real people to the imaginings of “Reason”, and annuls pleasure and the utility of learning together.”

Further Reading:

The Book of Community: A practical guide to working and living in community

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014) and 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and founder of He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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4 Responses to Reasonings on Community, Part V: Learning in Community

  1. Pingback: Lecturas interesantes del 26/06/2015

  2. Tom Merle says:

    It may be closer to mark to assert that the “common good” does not satisfy our need for community, indeed, as noted, it can often go contrary to communities which are diverse. Where the common good is important, however, is before the law, in guarenteeing human rights such as the US constitution. Our own personal community, hypothetically, may not include same sex married members but these relationships must nonetheless be protected as we just saw this morning in the Supreme Court ruling.


  3. Tom Merle says:

    For a solid summary of the Supreme Court’s minority arguments against a judicial remedy to achieve the common good, see Emily Bazelon’s excellent NYT article


  4. Pingback: Review of The Book of Community | Epicurean Database

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