December 17, 2011

Social Constructs and The Natural Order: Part 1: Introduction

Note: the following is the first in a series of planned philosophical essays that I shall be writing regarding what can be called the Natural Order. First, allow me some pretension in assuming that I am capable of doing what I intend to do. I make no claim that what I am about to argue here is anything more then the ravings of an individual who thinks he understands "How The Universe All Fits Together".

Social Constructs and The Natural Order

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Evolution and Survival of Systems
Part 3: Free Will, Choice, and Self Determinism Within Social Constructs
Part 4: The Role of Science and Religion
Part 5: Social Constructions Involving Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Part 6: Social Constructions Involving Gender and Sexuality
Part 7: Thoughts on Creating more Ethical Systems

To begin, let us consider some history. The universe was created in a bang, either by some grand God saying "let their be light", a flying spaghetti monster waving a noodly appendage, or through physical forces we don't yet fully understand. Whatever. At some point, galexies formed out of gasuous nebulas, then a solar systems came next, one which happened to have star we call the Sun at it's center around which would revolve our planet earth. Then upon this earth came a series of increasingly complex organisms which would separate and evolve out into different species. Over time at least one of these species would develop what can be called rational consciousness.

Now let's stop right here because this development is key to everything else I'm going to talk about. Why? Because up until now, everything that happened in the universe followed certain hard rules, what we might call "the natural order", that is "the rules governing the way the universe is". Organisms follow the rules of evolution, which is grounded in the rules of chemistry and physics and influenced by the geological environment. In general, scientists study these rules in an attempt to know them. Most importantly, these rules must be followed. If a rule or law science has decreed to be a part of the natural order is broken, then science was wrong about that rule. It is important to note, that there is no proof that we humans are capable of knowing the natural order in it's entirety.

So why is the development of of rational consciousness so important? Because with the development of self awareness, we humans were capable of developing new rules and systems. Specifically, we developed what could be labelled most generally as social constructs. Now by "social construct" I am of course referring to any rule or system that is dependent upon the faith of rational beings in order to exist. This makes social constructs very different from the natural order, which does not depend upon faith in order to exist.

In distinguishing between the natural order and social constructs, I must distinguish between two different kinds of beliefs. Beliefs about the natural order can be either right. For example, if I believe that there exists an all powerful god who sends good people to heaven and bad people to hell, then I can be either right or wrong depending on if there actually exists an all powerful god who sends good people to heaven and bad people to hell depending upon their faith in that God. Technically, I could also be considered to be partially right if there actually exists an all powerful god who sends people to heaven or hell depending on the number of snickerdoodles they consumed during their lifetime.

Beliefs about social constructs though are different, since social constructs are dependent upon belief in order to exist in the first place. Therefore, beliefs that are solely regarding social constructs technically cannot be "wrong". They can be called misguided, they can have devastating consequences for those who believe in them and for others, but they cannot be incorrect. If people believe in governments, economies, languages, then these things exist and the beliefs of the faithful legitimize and give power to those constructs.

Another important point needs to be made though, while social constructs are catagorically distinct from the natural order, they are also constrained by the natural order and cannot break it. It is however possible for false beliefs of conscious beings in the natural order to be created or develop within social constructs. It is also possible for social constructs to develop that ignore or are ignorant of the realities of the natural order.

-Social constructs need to be believed in order for them to exist and therefore are categorically distinct from the natural order which needs no rational conscience being to justify it.
-Social constructs are constrained by the natural order but false beliefs are still possible within them and to be generated by them.

(I imagine this introduction is going to seem silly to people, but bear with me, I plan to start covering more interesting and complicated ideas in future instalments)

Coming Soon: Part 2: The Evolution and Survival of Systems

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