The Public Interest

“Indoctrination” and societal suicide

Andrew Oldenquist

Spring 1981

IF we were anthropologists observing members of a tribe it would be the most natural thing in the world to expect them to teach their morality and culture to their children and, moreover, to think that they had a perfect right to do so on the ground that cultural integrity and perpetuation depend on it. Indeed, if we found that they had ceased to teach, through ritual and other organized means, the moral and other values of their culture, we would take them to be on the way to cultural suicide: Like cultures whose values and traditions wither in the face of technological civilization, we would think them ruined, pitiable, alienated from their own values, and on the way out.

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