Contexualizing Individual and Social Relations

Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 08:52 am

It's beyond banal to suggest that social interaction (towards whatever goal) relies on the individual. Even so, I see person after person in all types of mediums, pontificating on the ills or cure-alls of <this> or that <that> social, political or economic system. How foolish this is - what works, works, and whether or not any structure is successful (however one might define such success) is dependent on the prevalent characteristics of its constituent parts (i.e., the individuals).

Some relevant human social attributes, as I see them:[INDENT]Trust isn't earned. It's given... then either reinforced or retracted - it cannot exist without a truster giving it first. For as long as we carry this "must be earned"-mindset is the length of time we

Loyalty isn't earned. It's given from the mind/heart. It's also silly to think that some objective criteria exists whereby someone can 'purchase' loyalty.

The ideal of 'Freedom', on it's own, is a myth, existing no where in any absolute form. It's a qualifier that describes degrees and is only useful to describe a particular aspect of a situation (religious freedom, economic freedom, freedom to travel, freedom to express, etc.) What "types" of freedoms are important to a people depends on their character, needs and priorities as a whole

Cooperation can't be enforced. It comes only from the participant's desire and ability to act-in-concert with whomever's concerned.

Distrust is 'safer' than Trust. For all the myriad of self-defensive mechanisms we have, each work to protect the individual's perceived interests (physically or emotionally). The safest, and therefore the most prevalent position is one of caution and mistrust.

Perceived injustices arise just as often from lack of information and personal bias as they do from ones' actual concept of justice. Displaced aggression, incomplete tidbits of half-truths that 'hit a nerve' and perceived inequalities are just as relevant to individual behaviors as "reality".

He who cries the Loudest: The mob mentality can't be avoided. Humans will always gravitate towards those who share their moods, level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction and see the same demons. Once together, their cries echo so much the louder. This can't be taken, justifiably, by anyone as an objective indicator of the health of any social construct.
[/INDENT]The place I'm led to: No single social, political or economic system holds the keys to human happiness. Further, no such system has any chance for success without its close-correlation to the needs, ideals and disposition of the persons involved - not as a "we need this" but as a "we want this".

Thoughts, Ideas, Criticisms and Comments are welcome.

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Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 08:41 am
You hit on some key ideas about individuals and society. I don't think that mob mentality is a given. There is a major difference between people banding together because they share the same values that are worthy of valuing, and people banding together because they share life denying values.

Maybe I have read too much Nietzsche lately, but anyway, excellent thread. Hopefully it finally catches on...
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Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2010 10:27 pm
I just found this summary and it seems to apply. I hope it amuses someone. By the way, I've read Kojeve's lectures and they're amazing.


Kojeve's interpretation of Hegel is both original and arresting: he reads human history through the lense of Hegel's master-slave dialectic, and he sees the desire for recognition as the distinguishing characteristic of humanity. Human beings demand to be recognized and respected as free and equal individuals, and it is only when we are mutually recognized that we can lead fully and genuinely satisfying lives. At the beginning of our historical development, however, human beings, while demanding that others recognize their individual humanity, refuse to offer that recognition in return, and this leads to a struggle for recognition or a battle for pure prestige. At some point in this struggle, Kojeve argues, one of the warrior's desire for self-preservation overcomes his desire to risk his life for recognition, and he thereafter becomes the slave of the victorious master, recognizing his human dignity and working for him. But while the master may have won in the short run, over the long run the slave's recognition of the master is not satisfying precisely because the master does not recognize the dignity of the slave. The slave is able to progress historically through that very activity that distinguished him as a slave, namely work or labor: the products of the slave's work become an objective confirmation of his own reality and worth.
Kojeve traces the development of slave consciousness through such historical stages as Christianity and capitalism: in the former, God becomes a new and absolute master, but one who now recognizes the unique individuality and worth of all persons; in the latter, private property or capital becomes the new master, but one which aids and encourages the working slave's on-going transformation and technological conquest of nature. According to Kojeve, the end of history (understood as humanity's dialectical transformation and development) occurs during the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon. The worker-warriors of Napoleon's army are willing to risk their lives for recognition, but only in order to create the egalitarian conditions whereby all individuals will recognize and be recognized as dignified and autonomous citizens. The only remaining task to accomplish historically is the world-wide propagation of the fundamental ideas of the Revolution, the achievement of which will result in what Kojeve calls a universal and homogenous state. This final or end state is universal because it encompasses all of humanity, with no arbitrary distinctions or advantages based on nationality, race, class, or sex; and it is homogenous because all citizens will enjoy equal rights and duties through the promulgation of a genuinely equitable system of justice.
Of course, Kojeve was fully aware that with the end of history, so too comes the end of humanity properly so-called, and in 1968, Kojeve added a long and famous footnote to his lectures on Hegel stressing the implications of this fact. The full satisfaction of human beings through mutual recognition means that human beings will become or only remain alive as clever animals in the end state, and consequently all 'human' activities will once again become purely natural as we live in a state of abundance, security, and full contentment. Although Kojeve never said so explicitly, it would seem that the completion of history might entail the reign of Nietzsche's last man.

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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 10:10 am
That was a very interesting paragraph....

Now I want to read some Kojeve.
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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 02:05 pm
I will be happpy to explain all of human reality for you with a single sentence: Everything is a form of relationship. Done.
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