Man and Society
Somebody said “The problem of man cannot be solved scientifically without a clear statement of the relationship between man and society”. In the family the individual abandons some of his specific features to become a member of the whole. The life of the family is related to the division of labour according to sex and age, the upbringing of the children and also various moral, legal and psychological relationships. The family is a crucial instrument for the development of personality. It is here that the child first becomes involved in social life, absorbs its values and standards of behaviour, its ways of thought, language and certain value orientations. It is this primary group that bears the major responsibility to society. Through the group the child, as he grows older, enters society. the collectivity as a whole is the main educational force. Here the psychological factors are very important. It is essential that a person should feel himself part of a group at his own wish, and that the group should voluntarily accept him, take in his personality. Everybody performs certain functions in a group. Take, for example, the production team. Here people are joined together by other interests as well as those of production; they exchange certain political, moral, aesthetic, scientific and other values. A group generates public opinion, it sharpens and polishes the mind and shapes the character and will. Through the group a person rises to the level of a personality, a conscious subject of historical creativity. The group is the first shaper of the personality, and the group itself is shaped by society. The unity of man and society. A person's whole intellectual make-up bears the clear imprint of the life of society as a whole. All his practical activities are individual expressions of the historically formed social practice of humanity. The implements that he uses have in their form a function evolved by a society which predetermines the ways of using them. When tackling any job, we all have to take into account what has already been achieved before us. The wealth and complexity of the individual's social content are conditioned by the diversity of his links with the social whole, the degree to which the various spheres of the life of society have been assimilated and refracted in his consciousness and activity. This is why the level of individual development is an indicator of the level of development of society, and vice versa. But the individual does not dissolve into society. He retains his unique and independent individuality and makes his contribution to the social whole: just as society itself shapes human beings, so human beings shape society. The individual is a link in the chain of the generations. His affairs are regulated not only by himself, but also by the social standards, by the collective reason or mind. The true token of individuality is the degree to which a certain individual in certain specific historical conditions has absorbed the essence of the society in which he lives. Consider, for instance, the following historical fact. Who or what would Napoleon Bonaparte have been if there had been no French Revolution? It is difficult or perhaps even impossible to reply to this question. But one thing is quite clear—he would never have become a great general and certainly not an emperor. He himself was well aware of his debt and in his declining years said, "My son cannot replace me. I could not replace myself. I am the creature of circumstances." It has long been acknowledged that great epochs give birth to great men. What tribunes of the people were lifted by the tide of events of the French Revolution— Mirabeau, Marat, Robespierre, Danton. What young, some times even youthful talents that had remained dormant among the people were raised to the heights of revolutionary, military, and organisational activity by the Great October...
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