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Thread: Human society - Superorganism?

  1. #1 Human society - Superorganism? 
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    Okay, I am new and completely unskilled so I will sound like a complete idiot, but whatever
    Well, this is not exactly a completely new idea, Herbert Spencer (Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)) had a similar theory called "Social Darwinism".

    I personally think that there are many similarities between the structure of - let's say - a human's body (though we can view almost any organism as an example) and the structure of our society (Note please: similar, NOT same). For instance, our body is built up by small units called cells. These units are specialised and each of the has it's own 'job' - neurons transfer information, immune cells protect the body from illnesses and threats, others maintain and build up organs like the hearth, liver, etc.
    In human society, the main basic unit is the human itself (though machines and domesticated animals may also be). Most of us are specialised in an area, some of us work in a certain branch of industry, agriculture or service, building up and maintaining the basic "organs" of the system, the military acts as the immune system, while intellectuals, like scientists, artists, engineers, writers or executives, leaders, politicians, officials and managers build and maintain the "brain" and the "nervous system" of the organism.

    In A Nutshell this is my pet theory, unfinished, unstable and beta. What do you think?


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    Quote Originally Posted by N0VUS View Post
    Okay, I am new and completely unskilled so I will sound like a complete idiot, but whatever
    Well, this is not exactly a completely new idea, Herbert Spencer (Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)) had a similar theory called "Social Darwinism".

    I personally think that there are many similarities between the structure of - let's say - a human's body (though we can view almost any organism as an example) and the structure of our society (Note please: similar, NOT same). For instance, our body is built up by small units called cells. These units are specialised and each of the has it's own 'job' - neurons transfer information, immune cells protect the body from illnesses and threats, others maintain and build up organs like the hearth, liver, etc.
    In human society, the main basic unit is the human itself (though machines and domesticated animals may also be). Most of us are specialised in an area, some of us work in a certain branch of industry, agriculture or service, building up and maintaining the basic "organs" of the system, the military acts as the immune system, while intellectuals, like scientists, artists, engineers, writers or executives, leaders, politicians, officials and managers build and maintain the "brain" and the "nervous system" of the organism.

    In A Nutshell this is my pet theory, unfinished, unstable and beta. What do you think?
    Society is another level of organisation, but why do we need to think of that as an organism? An organism is an extremely complex arrangement of cells, should we try to argue that an organism is effectively a kind of super-cell? Cells, merely super-chemical reactions. In some ways they are, but in others not so much. We already understand the ways in which these levels of organisation are similar- and different. We can only crowbar society into the basic model of an organism by highlighting the similarities and ignoring some quite glaring differences (when was the last time your body put some of it's own cells in a mini-prison for rioting in your adipose tissue and stealing lipids?). In over-stretching the analogy we risk making it useless.


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    Quote Originally Posted by N0VUS View Post
    many similarities between the structure of - let's say - a human's body ... and the structure of our society
    Definitely. Specifically, the specialization of the work by a person/employer on a particular task (eg, fishing, mining, agriculture, production, government, defend, etc). If each of us had to mine our own minerals, fish/grow for our own food, produce our own products, defend ourselves, etc, then humans never could have advanced as we have. Along with specialization is cooperation. If we competed with each other, it would detract from our work product and lead to individual injuries and deaths, again humans never could have advanced as we have. Instead, cooperation greatly increases the efficiency of our "organism". If you concentrate on fishing, and I concentrate on farming, and then we barter/trade work products, then we both win. Also, it seems government is also necessary to coordinate/regulate our interactions on various levels (commerce, personal (marriage, etc), grievances against the government, national defense, etc), making them much more efficient and protecting society, although with some inefficiency of its own. Imagine a society of anarchy ... there really wouldn't be a society, and efficiency would drastically drop.
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    Well, that's a complex subject. You may find your answer in management/sociology theories of organization. You can see the organization as a organical body, as a machine... etc. Each one has of them has strongness and weknesses that fits and that fails to make a clear image of what a organization is. As it is about human relations, the aproach must be based on cognitive/psychosocial process. You must read "Images of Organization" by Gareth Morgan. He use many theorists to give many perspectives of what an organization is. From biologists to computer engineers.
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    It's an old concept, the microcosm human and the macrocosm reality.

    Also, "Leviathan" by Tomas Hobbes (1666) is quite a read.

    Having studied Medicine, I think reaching for a biological template of society very much blurs the line between subject and object. Passion for thy Father's House will consume thee. It's hazardous. Think of the Great Fire of London, 1666.
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    "I personally think that there are many similarities between the structure of - let's say - a human's body (though we can view almost any organism as an example) and the structure of our society "

    Analogies of this kind take us nowhere. It is not a hypothesis that can be discussed in depth or tested against facts. The sentence above tells all and does not require further information.
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    this is same concept as that of "Gaia Hypothesis", in which earth behaves like an organism. amazing
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