Society...

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Bullypulpit, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    While discussion of the Liberal/Conservative debate is often framed in the context of politics, but this is far too simplistic. There are complex and, often, contradictory moral and philosophical ideas and ideals within both camps. Let us, then, examinf their social agendas.

    In one camp, we see expressed the primacy of the individual over society. In the other, we see the primacy of society over the individual. On one hand, the the demands of society supercede the rights and needs of the individual. On the other hand, the rights and needs of the individual supercede any demands placed upon them by society.

    In either case, both are mistaken. No sane, healthy society can exist with total disregard for for the individuals who are its constitutents anymore than individuals can meaningfully exist with total disregard for the society in which they live. To have any meaning at all, the rights and needs of the individual and society must exist in a dynamic equilibrium, with neither sacrificed in the name of the other.

    In oreder to get beyond pointless arguments of "...the individual vs. society..." we need to understand a key concept; that being self-interest. Over time, self-interest has been saddled wiht connotations of "greed" and "selfishness". However, these labels become meaningless in the light of one basic fact...Self-interest is an integral part of the human psyche. Without it we wouldn't survive infancy, let alone childhood. Self-interest is, at its most basic level, a mechanism for ensuring the survival of the organism...Nothing more.

    Societies, whether simple or complex, are rooted in mutual self-interest. At a fundamental level, this mutual self-interesttakes the form of protection from the elements and from marauders, both human and not. As societies increase their level of complexity and interdependence, they also expand their range of opportunities for sel-expression and self-fullfilment while fostering an even greater reliance on societal stuructures and infrastructure.

    This leads us, the, to a question that must be resolved if a society is to function properly. What are the standards by which societal and individual behavior are judged.

    To be meaningful, these standards must be simple, understandable and universal without being absolute. The standards themselves are based upon their actual, verifiable consequences on individuals and society they live in. On an individual level, actions leading to the harm on oneself, another, or both cannot be sanctioned by society, again bearing in mind that these consequences are objectively verifiable. On the societal level, interference with the lives of individuals, as long as those individuals are not acting to harm themselves or others, is unjustifiable.

    When the actions of an individual or group lead to the harm of themselves or others, society is obliged to intercede and correct the situation. However, society cannot arbitrarily impose its will upon those causing no harm to themselves or others.

    Above all, we must understand that the individual is not some absolutely independent entity with absolutely inalenable rights, or defined by society as having no rights at all. Likewiae, society is not a group of unrelated individuals nor some absolute phenomena which unrestrictedly imposes its will upon the individual.

    In the end, society and its institutions are a dynamic and continuously evolving system. Any attempt to concretize, or render static and absolute that society and its institutions will ultimately lead to the stagnation and death of that society.
     
  2. Big D
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    Big D Guest

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    Clearly,

    The ramblings of a scared small mind.
     
  3. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    You really shouldn't talk about yourself like that. How long have you been troubled by these feelings of inadequacy?
     
  4. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    Kind of long to say so little, bully. But nice none the less.


    Some things should be set as static. One of them I believe is the primacy of the individual. I realize your villainization of staticity is an attempt to undo the unique focus on individual rights and individual economic freedoms that has made this country great. I can hear you saying it, "Individuals shouldn't ALWAYS be so important, constancy is a moral evil."
    Nice try, commie.
     
  5. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    What you have presented is a false dilemma, an insulting one. There are other options than those you have presented. You're not very good at logic, are you?
     
  6. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    Sorry, but with the absolute primacy of the individual, you have anarchy. With the absolute primacy of society you have totalitarianism.

    You heard wrong old son. Find the middle way. Find the balance which maintains the balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of society. Neither can meaningfully exist without the other.
     
  7. wonderwench
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    Bully,

    You and I disagree on many things, but you have some good thoughts in this post.

    I think the integrating principle you are seeking can be found in Nash's equilibrium theory - that one's overall self-interest is served by balancing with and contributing to the self-interest / welfare of the other members of the community (ie, mutual cooperation). Neither the individual nor the community is subordinated and harmed - instead, the individual freely makes decisions and acts while taking into consideration the impact on others.

    I do dispute that the Liberalism and Conservatism are on the opposite ends of the collectivist - individual spectrum. The tension is more between the concepts of equality and freedom.
     
  8. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    Primacy means that individuals come first. This is as it should be, as every person is an individual. This is not an advocacy of anarchy. Individuals are real. society is a COLLECTION OF individuals. You don't see the trees for the forest. And you attribute something to me that obviously did not say. This isn't suprising.
     
  9. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    Society is indeed a collection of individuals. However, if the rights and needs of the individual are inviolable and supercede the rights and needs of the society, whose rights and needs come first? Within this context, society devolves into survival of the fittest, social Darwinism run amok...anarchy.

    The balance must be struck between the individual and society, with neither holding sway over the other.
     
  10. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    No ones rights and needs come first. They're all on an equal priority.

    Survival of the fittest is not anarchy. Is it your aim to stop human evolution? Why? Are you afraid you're not fit?
     

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