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Society and Person – 3


4 -Knowledge without Emotions

The institutionalization of a society increases its complexity and its potential. Releasing people from some social tasks allows people to take on more ambitious and complex objectives, but also increases the dehumanization inside the society. People deprived of a good knowledge of their peers, have a tendency to mistrust each other. Loneliness and fear appears and the group is at risk because the bonds that keep the group tight begin to loosen. Without trust any relationship breaks down and society is threatened.


To counteract these dangers, from the institutions new institutions were created. Their goal was to offset people’s biological needs to trust someone channeling those needs to the institutions themselves (a king, a state, a team, a company, a ideology). So people didn’t have to trust the people in their group, they had to put their faith in the King, or The Constitution, or the Prime Minister or the Sacred Books, whatever institution but the person.


When the link between people still exists but is weak, because there is no enough knowledge about the other ones, then the function of the institution was to reinforce it: e.g. marriage, heir, academic qualifications, standards of education, fraternities, clubs, etc. In those cases full confidence comes out of a combination of direct knowledge plus institutional knowledge. E.g. to know whether or not somebody knows a lot about a subject, you either have to know the person or you may know that he has a PhD in this area. To know whether or not somebody is still in love with somebody else, you either have to know the person or check out if they are still married, etc.
While replacing or reinforcing links institutions keep unite the group but institutions are not human beings. The knowledge that they have about people is plain data; just numbers, not emotions or feelings. Therefore they cannot pretend to replace human relationships. They can create or reinforce relations; yes! and they do an awesome job at it, but they can’t replace them. A marriage is a proof of mutual love, but nobody will bet everything to this “love” without ever knowing the couple. Besides institutions always end up prioritizing their own interests and working in a rational and consistent manner regardless of the emotional diversity of people.
For instance: In a bus to offer your seat to the elderly is a standard of courtesy. These kind of good manners creates bonds of gratitude and altruism in the group and makes life easier for the elderly. But this tradition has to complement or reinforce the natural impulse to help when the group is so big that you do not really know the other people; it cannot become the reason for the actions. If the only reason to give up a seat to an elder is that the rule requires us to do so, then we are facing a serious social problem because it means that we are reifying people. We will be dealing with plain uniform objects instead of individual unique people, and nobody wants to be treated like a “plain uniform object”.

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