Salim Solaiman

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It is better to coin human being as Political Animal instead of Social Animal

Since when human being is labeled as to be Social Animal don't know, but is it not giving an wrong impression that human being is the only social animal in animal kingdom? Which is not the reality. Forget about the mammals or primates who are much advanced in the hierarchy of animal kingdom, even insects like ants, termites, bees etc display social behavior and live a social life including distribution of work.
What I think is differentiating human being from other social animal is politics. Human being involves into politics to shape up their society what other animal doesn't. Yes in animal there is fight or battle for leadership which also human being have but human being also become political avoiding fight to establish supermacy. Due to the use of politics human being some places still have kingdom, some places individual autocracy , some other party autocracy , democracy, socialism and so on .... and everywhere they are in continuous use of politics to keep status quo though they know change is the most if not only absolute thing in the world. Due to politics human being created countries, nations, ethnicity , religion, regions, sub-regions and what not.
We can also say human being to be the only Economically Active animal , but the economics is highly influenced by the politics, similarly inventions and discoveries , so can't also call them Animal of Science or Discovery. So
it is better to call Human Being to be Political Animal.

  • Mar 18 2011: Additionnal thought: the first part of the speech about the postulated relevance of the split, cut, severed perception that has been going on for a while (actually dating back to Descartes and what is called the Great Occidental Paradigm) is an outdated yet still vivid by-product of positivism and the auto-reinforcing cycle between classical science and classical logic (whose bottomlines are to extract, severe, dissect things in order to understand them). Their respective productions, in the way that they allowed a tremendous number of groundbreaking discoveries such as thermodynamics, chemistry, physics, and so on, naturally and blindly led to that asbolute lack of questionning the very root principle lying deep within: this action of splitting and uncoupling things actually results in a major loss of information.
    BUT, lately, from all over sciences (this mostly began with the rise of interest with regards to ecology, which, in the contrary, is an integrative science that connects and studies connections between systems), a very profound paradigm shift is occurring amongst top scientists in many fields: considering the connections between systems is a paramount key to understanding them. The speech gravitates around considerations related to that and applied to disrupt common place statements that are still widely believed about our species.
    You wanna know more bout this very important revolution going on? Read books from authors I posted below.
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      Mar 19 2011: Thanks John for your time in posting your thoughts, references and your desire of teaching all. May I know your conclusion ? What you want to call Human species as then ;instead of coining widely used "Social Animal" or "Political Animal" as proposed in this debate ?
      • Mar 19 2011: Hey Salim. Ok, tough execise. Here we go. Basically, the most important discoveries about our species lie about what was recently discovered about how our brain fuctions (that proves wrong a LOT of things that were believed by philosophers for a long time with regards to everything).
        Our brain is an extremely complex constellation of highly specific organs whose functions are to produce (infer) information about a specific subject. These organs are called inferential systems. Examples: IS of intuitive psychology (function: to elaborate the most accurate representation of one's pyschism in order to evaluate the nature, the complexity of potential collaborations with them), IS of intuitive physics (which prevails in every play ground and that induces expectations with regards to how objects move and behave), IS of living things detection (tells you whether what you see is living or not), IS of contagion (that induces caution with regards to anything seen as potentially dangerous), and so on and so on. All these systems work in our mental background and are not accessible consciously. There are so many remarkable things about them.
        By studying them, we have figured out they are wired to produce only a certain type of information, and the architecture of their organization prevents and allows only certain types of behaviors.
        The type of info they generate has been categorized in what is called ontologies (4 of em: Human, Animal, Artefact and Tool). And something very interesting occurs: certains types of concepts, emotions, thought patterns overstimulate these IS, and what happens is that those concepts (which partly violate ontologies and yet conserve part of em) are more likely to stabilize in the social fabric: religions are born, cultures are developped, music appears.
        There are so many things about these IS that are paramount to understand how we function: social skills, propensity to behave in a certain way. And the physionomy of our brain is the key to our spcs
      • Mar 19 2011: Crap, removed my own post, im stupid.
        In what ways do we stand apart from other species? Well, our IS of intuitive psycho is believed to result in behaviors and interactions that are unparalleled on our planet in terms of complexity, nature, ..
        But, mostly, trying to define us through one word is of little interest for it is dissolving all the complexity that lies at the core of our species. Social? Yeah, we are extremely social. But defining us only through that is a pure insult. Political? Politics, as well as religions, music, myths, and pretty much everything we think and do and are are by products of this unbelievably complex machinery that lies inside our skulls, that binds us together through our social abilities, that binds us to our environment. Morin and Pinker define the brain as an extremely complex computation organ that processes millions of pieces of info in a split second (mostly unconsciously), that are blended and expressed through all channels available to us.
        Clearly, trying to define us through a few words is no more than a past time activity of long dead philosphers that were not equipped to explore and figure out the richness of the species, and only had basic info about us and our environment.
        Cant tell you more for I am simplifying dangerously here, so read about these authors: Pinker, Boyer, Barrett, Morin, Watlawicz, and so on. Good luck!
      • Mar 19 2011: I particularly like E. Morin's definition of mankind: he defines us in The Method (He is a french dude, so am i, dont know if this has been translated, but it probably has given how this guy is influential) as bio-anthropo-social beings: We are bio (living) and bound through our social skills to other people (socio) and also to our environment throught our ability to understand it (intuitively at first, now also through science) and interact with it. And basically, our species is defined by the ongoing cycle of interactions between these 3 aspects of our species. Our bio aspect is regenerated by our socio and by our anthropo sides which in turn regenerates them back and so on and so forth.
        Given how far top scientists in their fields have gone, it saddens me to realize that their perception (what Brooks calls 'Enchanted Humanism') has not yet made its way through education. People are still talking about themselves as social beings, or political which is what philosophers did at the very beginning of the renaissance. Morin preaches what he calls a Civilisationnal Policy which is actually to regenerate Education Politics, Republics, etc.. with the help of all these incredible breakthroughs and perceptions of ourselves. Basically, our society is about 400 years behind what scientists say we are.
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          Mar 21 2011: Thanks again John for sharing your great thoughts. I will check those books.
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    Mar 26 2011: Not necessarily: you could think of politics as a formalization and practical application of socializing. In that case, we're still social animals, only now we're harnessing those capacities in more sophisticated (although not necessarily always beneficial) ways.
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      Mar 27 2011: Good point Daniel, but again that's the point of differentaition for human being from other social animals. Is it not so?
  • Mar 18 2011: Political Animal, social animal, these are vestiges of a long rendered meaningless philosophical perception of the human species. We are indeed skilled socially beyond anything that we have come across so far. Look, I could go on and talk about this for hours and pretty much teach you all about what sciences say about us these days. But I don't have the time. To understand the studies that are used as a ground by D. Brooks in his speech, there's a couple of authors you should read : Justin Barrett, P. Boyer (both are teachers at Washington U in St Louis), S. Pinker (the 3 of them are evolutionnary neuroscientists), E. Morin (probably the most important philosopher that has EVER lived, who is at the source of what is called complex constructivism in epistemology). Read that, get your head blown back, understand how everything that has ever been written and taught before our time is pretty much simplistic thus false about our species.
    I'm just sorry I don't have the strength nor the time to summarize that all, but that is definitely the begining of a most interesting trail that should give you incredible insight about our species (as well as the upper hand in pretty much any mundaine discussion about anything)
  • Mar 17 2011: I would say that what separates humans from other animals is a matter of degree. Other animals are social, yes. But other animals are also political. Packs of wolves establish social order and hierarchy, where how high a wolf holds his tail indicates his social status. But humans carry this to an extreme. It's been said that we evolved our brains not so much to interact with the environment, but to solve problems and interact with other humans. The complexity of our society is much greater than the complexity of ant or wolf or chimpanzee society. Because of that we like to view ourselves as removed from these other forms of life. We're learning that we cannot -- that our societies exist within a larger system. Well, we've been learning that since the beginning, haven't we? And we still haven't learned it. Perhaps there's a hint at the limits of human intellect -- AND human feeling. Neither seems able to settle us in our proper place.
  • Mar 16 2011: I agree that differentiating mankind from other animals by their social characteristics is invalid. I would argue that man as a rational animal is what sets us apart from other animals. It would be human reasoning applied to an understanding of our social characteristics that gives rise to politics. You are correct in seeing human as political, but that is simply one facet of humanity's rationality.
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      Mar 17 2011: Good points Robley , but are not human beings at times displaying irrational behavior or decision to establish political supremacy ?