Why Live In Society?
And Who Is Worthy Of It?
Most human being choose to live in some kind of social relationship with other human beings. This observation is mistakenly attributed to some supposed evolutionary or inherited natural attribute of human beings, called the, "social nature," or, "social instinct." Nothing causes human beings to do or be anything, because they must choose all their behavior. [See the chapter, "The Moral Nature."]
Human Beings Are Not Social Animals
From the, "Unique Human Nature" section of "The Moral Nature" chapter:
"How a human being must live is determined by human nature. Except for human beings, every creature behaves exactly as their nature requires because its nature also determines that behavior.
The unique nature of human beings does not provide them with any specific predetermine behavior."
Human beings are not predators, grazing animals, pack animals, herd animals, colony animals, or social animals. Human beings are rational volitional animals and are required by their nature to choose what kind of beings they are going to be and how they will live.
The reason most human beings choose to live in societies and socially interact with other human beings is because they value those relationships.
The Advantages Of Society
A society makes it possible for individual human beings to have and achieve many things that would be impossible if every individual had to depend entirely on their own effort and ability. The two primary advantages of society are:
1. The ability to accumulate and transmit knowledge. Every individual gains an incalculable value from knowledge learned and discovered by others and passed on from generation to generation. A society makes available to every individual an almost unlimited amount of knowledge one could never gain by their own discovery.
2. Specialization and trade. The division of labor enables individuals to have more than any individual could possibly have and enjoy if they were required to produce everything themselves. A society enables individuals to efficiently produce specific products or services which they can trade for the products and services of others, making available to every individual an endless supply of goods and services.
The advantages of the society of others is much more than these, however.
The Value Of Human Relationships
Why would one be interested in others at all? There is probably no single answer to why one would be interested in others because that interest depends on the particular relationship one has with others. Nevertheless, there are some general reasons others are important to us.
The first is the fact that other human beings are the only other creatures on this planet that have the same kind of nature each of us has. All human beings have the same basic physical requirements, and all have the same psychological requirements, they all must learn, think, make choices, and, live their lives in the best way they can to be successful and happy in this world.
Though the variety is endless, we all have similar experiences, growing up, learning, becoming adults and becoming responsible for ourselves, choosing what we want to do with our lives, which for most of us means what we will do for work, finding love, raising families, and enjoying our recreations. While our objectives and aspirations will be vastly different, they are all human objectives and aspirations.
The fact that all decent human beings are also productive, producing either products or services that are important to our lives is the reason all human beings are a real value to each other. Being the same kind of beings, the advantage of trading with one another and voluntarily cooperating with others in things from which all participants profit is obvious.
While the entire world of nature is interesting and a source of endless learning and experience, it is the world created and produced by human beings that is of real importance to us, because it is a world only human beings could make.
The world of science and technology which makes every material aspect of human society, from the clothes we wear to the buildings we live and work in to the vehicles that transport us anywhere in the world; the world of business and commerce where all the things humans produce are made available to us, and where we work our efforts are rewarded; the world of culture from language to the arts is a strictly human world; the world of literature that makes available to us all the record of human history and the glories of human imagination and most of all the incredible variety of human creation.
Only human beings can share and understand each others' thoughts, only human beings can accumulate knowledge and pass it along to future generations, only human beings can appreciate each others' ambitions and admire each others' accomplishments. Only human beings can make long-term plans and work together to fulfill them. Only human beings can make friendships based on the values we find in each other. Only human beings can love each other for what they are and are capable of the highest of human relations, romantic love.
Only human beings can provide the kind of endless variety of culture and life styles that provide endless sources of interest and discovery from methods of production to cuisines, from clothing styles to music. The unique experience made possible by interactions with others of endless variety of culture, knowledge, skills, and interests provides endless interest and opportunity to enrich us.
Positive And Negative Human Relationships
The advantages of society are, however, only potential, not guaranteed. The history of the world is sadly a history of human interactions dominated by cruelty and oppression. While human beings can obviously be of great value to one another, they are also capable of being great threats to one another. Social relationships are not automatically benevolent, and many are disastrously malevolent.
Whether or not social relationships are benevolent or malevolent is determined by the kinds of individuals in those relationships.
Negative Human Relationships
Positive human relationships are only possible between individuals who are not a threat or danger to one another and have something of value to offer one another. There is no advantage to any social relationship with others who would use force to harm us or interfere in our lives. Social relationships in which one's own life is endangered or compromised by the intent or actions of others are negative social relationships. They are relationships we would be better off without.
There is no advantage to a relationship with those who produce nothing of value and take, by threat or force, what others have produced. There is no advantage to a relationship with others who threaten to force us to do what they like against our will. There is no advantage to any relationship with others who have nothing of value to offer and only want to use us for their own gratification.
Positive Human Relationships
In any society, it is only the independent productive individuals who are capable of positive social relationships and deserve the benefits of society because they are the only individuals in any society who are never a threat to others and have anything of value to offer others in that society. All other members of a society are, at some level, a threat to others' lives and freedom and have nothing of positive value to offer.
Only independent individuals contribute positive value to any society by 1. producing something of value to trade with others who produce, 2. in whatever modest or exceptional way, advance knowledge by teaching others skills they have developed to teaching mankind how to do something never done before (think Edison and the Wright brothers), 3. by contributing their own unique abilities and ideas, because they think for themselves, 4. by their own style of living and being, not copied from others, but chosen for their own reasons, and 5. by being the kind of self-made individuals others can appreciate and love.
Only independent individuals are benevolent in all their relationships with others, because they neither seek or desire any relationships others do not freely choose to be a part of. Only independent individuals make no demands of others or ever interfere in how others choose to live their lives. Only independent individuals are capable of enjoying the success of others knowing that other's success can only be a benefit to themselves.