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Object of Human Society

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 26 Jul, 2009 03:17 pm
"What is the object of human society? Is it to dazzle the eye with an immense production of useful and elegant things? Is it to cover the sea with ships and the earth with railways? Is it, finally, to give two or three individuals out of each 100,000 the power to dispose of wealth that would suffice to maintain in comfort those 100,000?"

- Sismondi, Studies in Political Economy (1818 - 1836)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,170 • Replies: 7
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Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jul, 2009 05:00 pm
@Khethil,
What is, or what should be, the object of human society?

If we speak of what is, then we should answer in the affirmative to the three above questions, though we might doubt the usefulness of so many of the things we produce.

If we speak of what should be, then we are only going to depress ourselves through such an investigation into the failure of our society.

We do have a third option. We might ask what is the purpose of our individual lives given the state of our society. We can ask - what should we do given what is? Maybe this is the same as asking what should be, but by removing the emphasis from larger social criticism, and placing the emphasis on impending human action, our action, we begin to ask questions that might help us, in the words of Gandhi, 'be the change [we] want to see in the world'.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 06:27 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Hey DT,

Didymos Thomas;79671 wrote:
What is, or what should be, the object of human society?


Ahhh! Important distinction for sure. As I take it, the author is speaking in the "what should it be"-context. But yes, what it is - and what it should be, any "it" - is very important.

Didymos Thomas;79671 wrote:
We do have a third option. We might ask what is the purpose of our individual lives given the state of our society. We can ask - what should we do given what is? Maybe this is the same as asking what should be, but by removing the emphasis from larger social criticism, and placing the emphasis on impending human action, our action, we begin to ask questions that might help us, in the words of Gandhi, 'be the change [we] want to see in the world'.


... a worthy thought, to be sure.

If we constrain our observation on both these concepts to the realm of "economic methodology" for a collection of people, I think we get closer to what the author was musing on. In any case, I suppose that's a question for another forum.

Thanks
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 08:08 am
@Khethil,
Society can and does and should have not just one purpose or goal, but many projects, and these give it a lively enthusiasm, extravagance, and drive that it would not have otherwise.
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 04:44 am
@Khethil,
Thinking more on this, I think what occurs to me most-poignantly, is that the quote is an excellent editorial on the inequity of Wealth Distribution. I don't know if, realistically, this is something that'll ever be 'fixed' per say. I do; however, get a very real sense of injustice when I: 1) See and know that many of our most basic necessities require at least some money. 2) Hear and learn about the enormity of suffering poverty brings. -and- 3) Perceive what I believe to be avarice run amuck.

Thanks
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 05:54 am
@Khethil,
A good friend of mine.A union representative,joked with his wife,"come the revolution ,that big house on the hill is ours." Circumstances can alter our perception, its the true hero that can oppose his benefits.
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PoeticVisionary
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Aug, 2009 04:50 pm
@Khethil,
"Society is immoral and immortal; it can afford to commit any kind of folly, and indulge in any sort of vice; it cannot be killed, and the fragments that survive can always laugh at the dead." - Henry Adams, Education, 1907
William
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Aug, 2009 08:26 pm
@PoeticVisionary,
Khethil;79657 wrote:
"What is the object of human society?


I find that an impossible to answer in regard to that elaborate mosaic that is represented as human society as long as all are not allowed to offer their answers.

Sismondi;79657 wrote:
Is it to dazzle the eye with an immense production of useful and elegant things?


Ah, that is the lure that break hearts and shatters dreams for many who are mesmerized by those who dazzle them for what is elegance for there is no utility to it but what can only be observed creating the illusion of lack in those so hexed and the value that is their life instilling a feeling of poor, crude, rough and ugly.

Sismondi;79657 wrote:
Is it to cover the sea with ships and the earth with railways?


How grand that would be if all had the opportunity to use them. It would most assuridly change our perception of what can only opined as to how others experience what is "their" human existence.

Sismondi;79657 wrote:
Is it, finally, to give two or three individuals out of each 100,000 the power to dispose of wealth that would suffice to maintain in comfort those 100,000?"?


That is that very defintion of that "high society", isn't it. Those are the only ones who have the means to experience one and two and if they did truly see the world and what other societies endure, it would eliminate 3 and it's wasteful nature or it would be an avarice that can only be defined as evil.

Didymos Thomas;79671 wrote:
What is, or what should be, the object of human society? If we speak of what is, then we should answer in the affirmative to the three above questions, though we might doubt the usefulness of so many of the things we produce.


Well said, Dt. In considering what you doubt as to their usefulness, shouldn't we ask why it is as it is?

Didymos Thomas;79671 wrote:
If we speak of what should be, then we are only going to depress ourselves through such an investigation into the failure of our society.


Who would be depressed, if you don't mind me asking; those who dazzle, travel and waste, or those who are bedazzled who will never realize those useful and elegant thing and the means to travel this Earth?

Didymos Thomas;79671 wrote:
We do have a third option. We might ask what is the purpose of our individual lives given the state of our society. We can ask - what should we do given what is?


Don't you think we need to establish "why" it is before we can devise a plan that will tell us what to do? I may be wrong but that makes sense to me.

jgweed;79772 wrote:
Society can and does and should have not just one purpose or goal, but many projects, and these give it a lively enthusiasm, extravagance, and drive that it would not have otherwise.


I totally agree, if all could participate in those many projects and share in that enthusiasm. I don't think extravagance and drive have anything to do with it in all due respect. The enthusiasm of participation is all that matters, IMO. I guess it would depend on the other hand what is the source of that "drive"?

Khethil;83711 wrote:
Thinking more on this, I think what occurs to me most-poignantly, is that the quote is an excellent editorial on the inequity of Wealth Distribution. I don't know if, realistically, this is something that'll ever be 'fixed' per say. I do; however, get a very real sense of injustice when I: 1) See and know that many of our most basic necessities require at least some money. 2) Hear and learn about the enormity of suffering poverty brings. -and- 3) Perceive what I believe to be avarice run amuck.
Thanks


I hold heartedly agree. Let's hope that it can be "fixed".

William
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