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Comte-Sponville argues that it is the first virtue in the temporally it preceeds all others.(Comte-Sponville 1996).

Custome precedes value; obedience, respect; and imitation, duty.

It is unrelated to morality. As suggested by Comte-Sponville, if a Nazi is polite, it changes nothing about Nazism.

Politeness is not morality but it paves the way for greater things.

Speaking of Civility a closely related concept to politeness, Civility is necessary because we are fellow travellers in life and making sacrifices makes the ride tolerable.

Civility and manners are also related to community. In a train or bus all passengers are a community called upon by a shared moral understanding to sacrifice for each other. If we think, there are no other passengers in life, there is no community. And if there is no community we can do as we like. The unawaremess of community - the notion that we are travelling alone causes incivility.

"Civility is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together...We should make sacrifices for others not simply because doing so makes social life easier (although it does), but as a signal of respect for our fellow citizens, marking them as full equals, before the law and before God."( Carter 1998, Page 11)


Baldridge, Letitia (1997) More Than manners!New York: Rawson Associates

carter, Stephen L. (1998) Civility, Manners, Morals and the Etiquette of Democracy, New York: Basic Books

Comte-Sponville, Andre (1996) A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues, New York: Henry Holt and Company

Connolly, Peter(1999) Approaches to the Study of Religion, London: Cassell