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What is society? Show more Show less
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Societies have been a core part of human interaction since the beginning of mankind. But what is society? A shared geography? A shared culture? Coming together to work towards a shared goal? Do they even exist?

Society doesn't exist Show more Show less

There is no such thing as a collective society. When we perceive 'society' we are merely perceiving randomized individual behavior and interactions.
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We are all individuals

Society as a concept that exists beyond the individual doesn't exist. It is merely the sum of individual interactions.
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Context

Society, as an attempt to group individuals together, doesn’t exist. Everyone is an individual, with different values, culture, parlance, and geographical locations. Therefore, we cannot group our interactions and relations under the banner of a metaphysical “society”.

The Argument

Society as the existence of a collective, does not exist. What we call ‘society’ is the name given to randomized individual interactions taking place on a large scale. A society is nothing more than the sum of its individual actions. All of the phenomena attributed to a ‘society’ are nothing more than large-scale individual interactions. This is best illustrated by comparing humans living in a small town with those living in a large city. Humans from a small town tend to dress, speak, and behave in a very similar way. This is because in small towns, humans tend to build stronger bonds. They have a longer period of time to build an impression of someone and the relationships are emotional. In a city, where meetings are fleeting and often brief, people might dress differently, speak differently, and behave differently. This is because humans in large groups need to adopt strategies to earn the attention and interest of others. With such limited interaction, city dwellers have less time to form emotional bonds and the awareness of others must be grabbed. The easiest way to grab someone’s attention is to fill an unusual position.[1] The examples above show how a ‘society’ that others believe shares a culture, language, or behavioral traits, does not share any of these. It is merely the collection of individual interactions playing out across humankind.

Counter arguments

The culture of a group is more than just the behavior and habits of the individuals within that group. Without a collective consciousness, which we might call society, there could be no common language, mythology, folklore and religion. A shared language cannot emerge from individual interactions. Otherwise, it would only be shared by those that participated in those interactions. Similarly, if society was nothing more than the sum of the individuals, society would have no impact on individual behavour. But it does. We change our behavior under the pressure of the collective consciousness. It shapes our interactions and sets behavioral conventions. Therefore, society must exist. It cannot be reducible to sum of individual interactions.

Premises

[P1] Society is nothing more than individual interactions taking place on a large scale. [P2] Therefore, society as a concept beyond collective interaction does not exist.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Society is more than individual interactions. It has a collective consciousness.

References

  1. http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/simmel.htm

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This page was last edited on Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 01:37 UTC