Man – A social Animal. Really?
A very common and acceptable statement – ‘Man is a social Animal’. Don’t you remember using this statement every time when you had reasoned your need of being accepted, being with people, loneliness, companionship, addiction to social media! You have taken back up of sociologists and have argued quoting many incidents from your life too. In short, you have proved your need of society and that for you to exist, society is inevitable.
I am curious. Is man really a social animal? Can we enquire this?
What does being animal implies?
Animals live on instincts and are totally body centric. They want things to consume. There is action and reaction. Not intelligence. They are bonded by their very physical configuration. That’s why one can’t teach lion to eat grass and goat to eat rats. The hindi word for animal – ‘Pashu’ – comes from the root ‘paash’ which means bondage.
So…calling man animal of any type ensures one thing. That he would live in bondage, would react and surly have a scripted, conditioned life. How true! When man is a social product, his instincts are the conditioning of morality and rules of the society, his actions are mostly predictable and of course he does not act intelligently. His life, on a broader scale, is scripted. Everyone follows the same pattern. Study, work, marriage, children, material accumulations and finally death. Finer details could be different, some may get married at 18 and some at 30. But the script remains the same. That’s nothing less than slavery. One would may call it by decorated names, but the fact remains the fact.
Indeed. If man is social, he can be nothing but an animal.
So, man is a social product as much like any product with certain properties, dos and don’ts, ifs and buts about usage and behavior.
However, with all this, to me it seems that calling man a ‘social animal’ is highly derogatory, disgraceful, disrespectful. The sad part is, we feel pride in labeling ourselves social animal.
Is there any scope for intelligence then? Can a person ever even know what being an individual is? Ayn Rand, the author of the bestselling ‘The Fountainhead’ says that if being in minority is a cause of concern, then the smallest number is of ‘The Individuals’. They must be protected first.
Individual comes from the word – Indivisible. So an individual is the one who is indivisible – not fragmented, total. He is not living in bits and pieces. He is a whole whatever he does, wherever he is. He is total and hence all his actions too are.
This social man is a collection of fragments. Fragments of being a son/daughter, spouse, parent, employee, member of some society, professional, friend, citizen, and all that. That is what his identity is. Different at different occasions. Where is the question of totality? He lives and dies in fragments. No wonder, there is no spark in his eyes ever. He is always half-hearted. He is always noisy. He always runs away from himself. He cannot tolerate his own company even for a few minutes. He is eager to lose himself, always. He is always fearful and insecure. He doesn’t know the taste of immersion. He doesn’t understand what beauty is. He is full of beliefs and opinions. His life is stale. The fragrance is missing.
There is no hope for man, till the time he doesn’t questions his present state, his dogmas, his lifestyle. Till the time he remains insensitive, he would never get the nectar of life.