Are We Social Beings?

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Many people ask the questions “are we social Beings”? Some find it more relaxing to keep to their selves while others feel comfortable in a more social setting among their peers. This is important because it dictates how we act around people. If someone likes to be alone and keep to his or herself, then they will more then likely have questionable people skills, where as someone who loves to have people around them, will most likely be very good with working with people or just interacting with them. Rene Descartes believed that “we ourselves exist”, and are independent from others. Descartes’ way of thinking about the individual is the bases of the western way of thinking about ones self. Steffen Carlshamme from Stockholm University explains that an individual’s identity is based on the culture that that individuals is a member of. Culture is very important to ones identity, that’s why a people can be destroyed if you destroy their culture. Examples of this are the Aztecs and the Asian and European invasion of the African continent. While Descartes had more of an atomistic view, G. W. H. Hegel had a more social view about how we fit into society. According to him the public good is better than the goals of an individual. Hegel explained that the only way to see our selves is thru the reflection of others. To him, it was all about recognition. A person cannot achieve self-respect until that person is recognized or shown respect from others. Martha Nussbaum from the University of Chicago explained that people want to be recognized. The self wants to be in relationship with others. Robert Solomon from the University of Texas in Austin added that people need each other. We care about what other people think of us. Robert Solomon also talks about Hegel’s “master / slave” story where two self-consciousnesses almost fight to the death. The one that is about to be killed then tries to reason with the aggressor to spare its life by agreeing to become the aggressor’s slave.

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