Society is more than an aggregation of individuals

May 29, 2010

I’ve never really understood why anyone gets taken in by arguments along the lines of “get the individuals right and society will work itself out”. Ok it was the basic of classic liberalism and aspects of social contract theory but I did think by now most people realised that individuals co-evolve with each other, ideas, the cultural ideation patterns of their society etc. etc. The focus on individual competences and the assumption that they will aggregate is reductionist in nature, it fails to appreciate the complexity of social interaction. The tighter linkages between anthropology and biology (of which more in future weeks), the way in which culture forces exaptation in humans and many other discoveries all demonstrate that inter-connectiveness and interdependency militate against aggregative and reductionist concepts of human identity. I did an interview on this the other day for someone who is trying to gather ideas on success, and he has got a longish list already. The interview I gave is here, and as you will see I wasn’t prepared to run with the theme.

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