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Don’t say bad words; don’t interrupt people; don’t shove; don’t steal; don’t lie. To the child, all these prohibitions appear identical (“It’s not nice”). The distinction between the ethical and the aesthetic will come only later, and gradually. Politeness thus precedes morality, or rather, morality at first is nothing more than politeness: a compliance with usage and its established rules, with the normative play of appearances—a compliance with the world and the ways of the world.

André Comte-Sponville


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