What unites, and what divides us?

What connects the individual with the social dimension? This question can be investigated from various points of view: politics, philosophy, psychology, or social sciences like sociology and anthropology.

A famous anthropologist, Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) wrote: "What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all the four of them to me? And me to you?"

Other Resources:

This website brings together some interesting texts that address the social link. They outline the basic ideas behind social theories and various political philosophies.

The website was created to summarize ideas, raise questions, and offer discussion points for classes in political philosophy.

  • How does human nature relate to the organization of society?
  • What are the origins of social order?
  • What is the foundation of law?
  • What are the basic forces that organize the political process?
  • How should states and governments be constructed?

The relationship between the individual and society is not static. It has changed over time, and is shaped by a political process. A good example for this process that creates order and empowers the individual is the history of human rights.

The development of social theory became a necessity when societies began to change with the beginnings of modernity in the 17th century. Enlightenment philosophies in the 18th century elevate the individual above unreasonable or authoritarian government: Reason should rule, but it requires that individuals think for themselves.

Political Changes in the last 100 Years:

    1. Two world wars, many other wars, atomic breakthroughs, East/West and North/South conflicts, economic development.
    2. "Pax Americana?" The Soviet Union dissolves in the 1980s, but state-run modern totalitarian systems rise in Russia, China, and the Middle East.
    3. Rise of the machines: Internet, robots, AI.
    4. Population explosion: Between 1800 and 2000, the world population grows from 1 billion to 6 billion people. It currently stands at 7.7 billion, and will reach around 10.5 billion people in 2100. The growth rate, however, is sinking rapidly as well. Population growth is unevenly distributed in different regions: Sub-saharan Africa and South-East Asia are the area with the steepest increases.
    5. World-wide Urbanisation trend. The rise of mega-cities.