Multiple Sets of Values: Parallel Hierarchies
While continuing our discussion on normative subsystems, let us begin with a theme of the previous chapter that postulates a normative superethos (megaethos) shared in various degrees by the entire society, a kind of a global system, that in turn does not preclude existence of a number of particular cultural and social groups, sharing particular normative subsystems.
The logic of social evolution may suggest a simple and rather idyllic society, perfect in its pristine morality. Such were the pictures advanced for at least three centuries, if not more by philosophers of natural law. Philosophers of the Enlightenment popularized this attractive lore with their wit and talents. Rousseau won his first glories with an intelligent essay on the illusion of progress, on happiness of the primitives. Voltaire and, above all, Diderot, with his witty dialogue on the "Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville," presented the ideal morals of the "primitives"--unspoiled by the advanced civilization. Today we know well that those beautiful images were not necessarily true, useful as they were in terms of historical struggles against prejudice.
Of course, we have no records of normative codes of the very early societies; the only way left to us is a hypothesis, supported by our information about contemporary or past, less advanced, tribal societies, those we have called "primitive."
An idealized image of an early society suggests a well-integrated group, controlled by a single normative code shared by all members of the group. There is some truth in this image. However, even among those early societies the normative code was split: one moral code guided relationships with outsiders, with other tribes or peoples, and a different one controlled conduct toward insiders. Already at the early stages of mankind the same persons followed two different normative codes (or subcodes)--codes, moreover, that were not com-