Human Society as a Consequence of Human Imagination

Session Date: 
Jun 1, 2018

The social of human beings has been, for at least fifty thousand years, totally different to that of our nearest relatives the Chimpanzees. This difference is due to the fact that human social organisation is not simply a matter of ever more subtle communication between individuals. It is also a matter of imagination. This imagination consists of roles such as wife, professor, nephew, police officer, president etc. which regulate certain aspects of the social and also of the membership of groups such as clans or nations which are represented as ignoring the continual fluidity and change of activated relations among living people. This addition of the imaginary social means that our social is, in certain ways, double. On the one hand, it is a matter of continual transactions made possible by our capacities to read each other’s minds and adapt accordingly. On the other hand, it is a matter of imaging the social system as fairly stable and existing beyond moments of interaction. This social use of imagination has enabled human societies to be of far greater size than the social groups of the chimpanzees and also of lasting much longer in time than the limitations that our organic nature seems to impose.