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Atoms form bonds of varying strengths with other atoms to form molecules. The bonds they form naturally are generally stable, whereas the ones that are forced by men decay rapidly — and give you cancer.

(Embrace it! Own it! :o)

[Cross-posted at The Libertarian Standard; HT fellow TLS blogger Robert Wicks for suggesting the second sentence.]

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  • Bob August 13, 2011, 6:58 pm

    Atoms also succeed at being precisely what they are qua atoms without forming such bonds; human beings do not (at least, no Aristotelian should assert that they can). Thus the critique of atomistic individualism is not only apt, but the metaphor is well chosen.

    • Geoffrey Allan Plauché August 13, 2011, 8:15 pm

      An Aristotelian might question whether atoms truly succeed qua atoms without forming such bonds. But there is always a danger with metaphors; one thing is not like the other. The communitarian critic is generally attacking a straw man with this charge. How many individualists really believe and argue that human beings can live successful, fully human lives without forming social bonds? In any case, the analogy of forced bonds is an apt and well-chosen one as well: the state is destructive of society.