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Thread: Can societies be organisms without being biological?

  1. #1 Can societies be organisms without being biological? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    In the first half of the previous century, the concept of societies being oranisms (social organisms) was believed by a number of scientists. Of course, the popular view carried the concept to absurd extremes and people talked of societies having telephones and power lines for nerves, the transportation system and oil for the blood vasculars sytem, etc.

    It became so absurd that the whole idea was finally dropped. Yet, without the concept of the social organism, there has been no progress since then at all on figuring out how we "progressed" and built up such an immense cultural heritage as a species---and became so numerous--without any further biological evolution in the last almost 200,000 years.

    So, perhaps it is time to take another look at the subject! Is it possible there is a social evolutionary process which is biological-like but operates under different, even though similar, processes? Is it possible there is a natural selection process going on in which societies, rather than we individual human beings, undergo evolution?

    Right away, a difficulty arises. How could evolution take place among social organisms if societies have no genetic structure? How could adaptive changes be carried on from social organism to social organism?

    The answer is that social organisms have their own seperate genetic-like means of carrying on innovation. All we need to do to grasp the concept is to define "society" as the bond of "religion" (and, with it, secular ideology when appropriate). That creates an entity and, at the same time,
    provides the genetic-like structure needed. Religions are, by nature, as rigid as possible in order to serve their function of binding people together into societies LONG TERM. Thus, when a society grows old, to adapt, it has to absorb secular beliefs. They, in turn, divide the belief system and, thus, eventually weaken the society. Finally, the weakened society is thrown into competition with a new society bonded by a new religion reproduced from the old one's secular system-enabled improving upon the old society's religious beliefs.

    So, what I say is that we have a form of life which is not quite biological but approaches it. It is a strange form of life, but we need to get used to strange forms of life because the universe is probably filled with them. The Earth certainly is.

    charles
    http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com


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    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    one could argue that there is allways a wide variety of different social forms (from individualism to collectivism, from liberalism to socialism, from secular to theoligical), and that economical and political competition between these forms gives rise to a process of selection. However, I would use this 'evolutionary perspective' on societies as a way of thinking, not necessarily as a theory describing realworld events.

    You may be interested in the idea's of a German geographer of the early 20th century, Friedrich Ratzel, who developped this organism idea for human geography.


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    Forum Freshman Destruct's Avatar
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    Of course, the popular view carried the concept to absurd extremes and people talked of societies having telephones and power lines for nerves, the transportation system and oil for the blood vasculars sytem, etc.
    This doesn't sound absurd to me at all.

    How could evolution take place among social organisms if societies have no genetic structure?
    ...
    The answer is that social organisms have their own seperate genetic-like means of carrying on innovation. All we need to do to grasp the concept is to define "society" as the bond of "religion" (and, with it, secular ideology when appropriate). That creates an entity and, at the same time,
    provides the genetic-like structure needed.
    Cultural information is the thing transmitted and stored, the blueprint of society, the societal organism's equivalent of DNA. In this context such information is referred to as Memes, so named by Richard Dawkins of "The Selfish Gene" fame.

    The methods that memes combine, mutate and propagate are quite similar to what DNA does in the abstract, but there are differences too. So societies can be seen as organism-like, but much of their structure is dissimilar to what an individual organism is like. For instance, societies can merge or split, absorb new memes and lose old ones, and have blurry boundaries in space and time.
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  5. #4  
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    Hi,

    in a way, social evolution is a part of science for a long time. Since cultural differences are no longer explained by use of a genetic difference all social science is science of cuotural evolution. It is assumed, that cultural evolution is explaineable by Lamarckian evolution, whereas biological evolution is working likle Darwin told us.

    Destruct has already mentioned Richard Dawkins, who has introduced the term meme. A collegue of him, Susan Blackmore, has written a book called "The meme machine", which is a interesting read as well.

    Blackmore, like many modern sociologists (E.g. Luhmann), thinks about humans more as a kind of container, which contains cultural memes,
    The containers have not changed for a very long time, but the contents have --> the memes evolved.

    edit: i left the important part: from this point of view, it does not matter if you try to explain an organism or a society
    Greetings,

    BM
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    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    [quote="Pendragon"]one could argue that there is allways a wide variety of different social forms (from individualism to collectivism, from liberalism to socialism, from secular to theoligical), and that economical and political competition between these forms gives rise to a process of selection. However, I would use this 'evolutionary perspective' on societies as a way of thinking, not necessarily as a theory describing realworld events. "

    the complex inter-reactions you mention resembles the complex inter-reactions going on physiologically within us individuals. Yet, we are also able to be delt with as individuals as well as organ systems built upon cellular stuctures made out of cells.

    By ignoring the ideological bonding of societies and thus their competing, you can easily prevent yourself from noticing that the Christian Right Administration we have is deliberately pressing Islam in order to drive it against us and thus fortify the public belief that the Administration is the Christian answer to Islamic terror. This sort of retaliatory partnership has been going on for decades between Israel and the Palestinians and we learned it from them.

    Reading old works on this subject is like reading ancient scripture. I don't impress myself dealing with "authorities." The need is to go right to the data and do a lot of original and objective thinking. . .

    charles
    http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com
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