“Dose 7”: So, what about Persons? “The Meaning of Life” series

(So, science has its limits, and persons can round those limits out.  Not Mysticism, Nor Superstition, There are clues to The Meaning of Life and Our World in The Ways of Personhood.  It is our INFORMATION, our DESIGN.  Excerpt from originally published piece in the fall of 2018 in “The Freedom and Mother Nature Series”: “Persons in the Human Social Organism.”  The main idea: Persons are necessarily social and that sociability creeps down to our very core!  Enjoy:  Dose 7, in “The Meaning of Life, in ten easy doses” series HAS BEEN REVISED AND SHORTENED.  Stay well-rounded.)

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Starling Murmuration.  Humans, too. are highly social animals, perhaps the most social of all.  Persons necessarily exist together.

“We, persons, have a unique positionWe are one of Nature’s evolved creatures but more than as human beings, animals.   We are responsible, socialized humans The other persons around us hold us to standards, as we do they.  We communicate.  These standards of behavior are set and sometimes revised on a daily basis, but they also contain themes that have evolved through our history.  This is our Design.

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“Socialization precedes individualization,” Richard Rorty, noted humanist philosopher.

“Responsible, socialized humans have common experiences and seek to tell, and hear, what is different in the experience of others.  They seek to gain additional perspectiveEach person has a story to tell and our individual stories explain our individual “person-alities.”  The overwhelming bulk of our story—the story of modern human persons, in general *— is held, more or less, in common and is generally not spoken about but simply assumed.  In that sense,“we are all on the same page” and mostly just share our varied individual perspectives on what is common.

“When humans work and live with this kind of intimacy and cooperation, we become different and eventually call ourselves “Persons”; it is an acknowledgement that we have become functioning components in a new social order.  In some ways, we are like ants in a colony or bees in a hive.  And our advanced form of sociability does create a new thing; literally, like the solar system is a thing composed of its planets.  Persons are a part of a new, enlarged organism: The Human Social Organism.

The Human Social Organism Evolved in Nature, and social organisms are not

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The Nucleated Cell: Two formerly independent cells now living as one.  Image from Biomimicry 3.8  blog.

unknown here, though ours is the latest to evolve.  Many of the greatest milestones in evolutionary history are of this character: Formerly independently living creatures come together and (as if by agreement, like The Constitution of the United States) live together in such close cooperation, for their mutual benefit, that they are now necessarily social, and no longer individually independent.  

“Nucleated cells (“good yoked” cells) formed when a single-celled creature consumed another but, in this case, did not disassemble it and use it up.  The one now lived inside the other (it gained a new environment) and each provided the parts for the new, more complex creature. 

“Another closely related case of necessary sociability is the development of the multicellular organism from a single cell, the fertilized embryo.  From this undifferentiated medium, the role of DNA is to differentiate the parts of a whole in a ‘top-down’, instructive, and ‘organic’ manner.  In this role, DNA

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The Multicelled Organism: Cells living with other cells as their most immediate environment. (thanks Sciencing for photo)

foretells the use of Language in the Human Social Organism where individual, immature ‘units’ —children, grow to become functioning parts of the social complex.  In the multi-cellular organism each cell is surrounded by other cells, but they are not formerly independently living; their origin, interaction and physical structures are now coordinated by a universal code, the genetic code. 

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Cells in the Human Social Organism? “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky…and they all look just the same.”  But, that is a pessimistic take on our togetherness.

Persons

“All these great evolutionary advances—nucleated cells, chloroplasts and mitochondria, multi-cellular organisms, sexual reproduction — were probably necessary for the development of our form of Necessary, Designed-In Sociability.  The role of herds,

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The famous sculpture of Romulus and Remus, mythical founders of Rome.  Eventually found and raised by a shepherd and his wife, this post contends that was necessary for them to become Persons.  (artist unknown)

packs, schools, flocks, colonies and hives will make for additional discussion.  But, some readers may be objecting: ‘Is modern, large-scale society really a necessity for persons?’ 

“No, but some minimal form of group is, and it would need to be larger than the family.  Whether pack — as in small-scale hunter and gatherers — or larger scale ‘tribes’,  A PERSON CANNOT COME INTO EXISTENCE ALONE! 

“A person, once achieving the state of personhood, can choose to live alone, or can be forced into isolation.  But, no individual human can become socialized —learn a language or invent one, understand gesture and facial expression, or even point at an object— without the help of other persons or incipient persons.”

The Human Social Organism has now been established.  It is a back and forth of communication, socialization and cultural history.  This is The Larger SomeThing we so often intuit and always implicitly rely upon.  It is not primarily about neurons firing in the brain or the physics of the universe, though it does depend on these.  This Organism of Persons has created its own level of complexity with its own language of interaction and “take’ on the broader universe.  It is our Design and we Stand Under it!

No wonder Team Sports are so well liked, they are an encapsulation of Society. Everyone has their role. Above is a simple play for youth football. The red circle and line is the ball carrier and his path to run. “I Under-Stand the play, coach!”
Logo by Marty

2 thoughts on ““Dose 7”: So, what about Persons? “The Meaning of Life” series

  1. WE tend to forget this: , A PERSON CANNOT COME INTO EXISTENCE ALONE! Excellent thought given the current state of the world.

    Like

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