Freedom: Advantages within the Human Social Organism

(This is the fifth post in the series on “Freedom.”  In the first post it was contended by Existentialist thinkers that freedom originated in a “self” that was free from causal influences, therefore free to choose.  But that seemed rather ‘religious’, like having a soul; so in the third post, “Humans as Machines”, ‘selves’, and brains, are considered to be programmed machines that respond to stimuli.  In “Persons Large and Small,” we found that persons are a network of vantage points, each composing a story by interaction with others.  This allows for a shift of perspective and the ability to ‘see’ ourselves and other things more ‘objectively’.   This collection of selves is a heightened interconnection, so tight, it forms a new compound creature:  The Human Social Organism; contended post four, “Persons in the Social Organism.”  In the current post, we will consider some benefits of this ‘new’ togetherness.  ALL IS ONE, BAAABYYYYY!  Originally published 11/26/2018)

Diagram of Morphological Castes and the Division of Labor in an ant colony.   (Thanks to ResearchGate)  Persons, too, are a social organism in a manner somewhat similar to ants.


Persons reap large gains due to their enhanced connections in The Human Social Organism.  But, let it here be made clear, this connection, this participation, has been largely unwitting.  It is something that “we,” our ancestors, stumbled into.  Nonetheless and very much to the point, it has allowed us to do more.

One of the obvious gains is a huge advance in productivity.  Our labor is individual, but

Factory work in the early 1900s. Productivity soared with this highly social form of production.

now organized and unified into a massive and worldwide economic system.  We now have persons in charge of supplying energy,  locomotion,  waste removal, housing and  communication.  Disregarding the questions concerning the fairness of the eventual distribution of individual shares of this growing productivity; none question the increase in its overall abundance.  This new organism is tremendously productive.

Image result for pictures of crowds
Sporting event.  Persons in close proximity to other persons..

But less obvious gain, and one that is more nuanced, is the fact that in these higher forms of aggregation, persons —for example— have other persons as the most prominent component of their environment In the multi-cellular organism, cells have other cells as their most immediate and important environment.  The creature that became the first cellular nucleus now had the other cell as its most immediate (and more cooperative) environment.  These larger aggregations are a form of reaching out; it is

Image result for map of alliances in europe 1914
Nation-states, like organisms, have reached out to form alliances that pursue mutual benefits.

good diplomacy among these components of Nature; they have gained more control and predictability in their environment through the creation of alliances. *

When combined with the productivity that has resulted from this new level of human interconnection, we can say that our environment has become more ‘person-able’!  It is full of other persons and our products.  Roads run to all humanly desired

Image result for pictures of neighborhoods
Humans build homes, roads, and gardens much like other animals build nests, webs, lairs. mounds.

destinations; streets are lined with human dwellings often with gardens full of domesticated flowers.  Farms cultivate humanly bred crops and animals, and for companionship humans have domesticated dogs and cats.  The internet connects persons to information and other persons worldwide and is tending to create a single world culture.  The result is an environment that we are as familiar with as the spider is to its web!

Image result for pictures of spiders and their webs
As a spider creates its web and lives with it, so do persons extend their faculties far beyond their immediate bodies. 

In the following post, a huge and final benefit will be considered.  The ability of persons to reflect is more than a benefit, it is the formative act of The Human Social Organism.   No other organism in Nature is connected in this particular way; all others are organized genetically.  A description of this most difficult concept of Reflection will be attempted.


Drawing by Marty


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