Social Convention and Samuel Butler's Erewhon

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Social Convention and Samuel Butler's Erewhon There are many conceivable explanations that have the potential to rationalize the preservation of society through time. These explanations clarify the fact that society, since its inception, has continued to exist. I assert that the precise reason for this self-perpetuation is convention, and moreover, that convention encompasses all of the other possible explanations for this continuance. Yet this conclusion merely follows from proper distinctions of terminology. Real profundity stems from the examination of convention in relation to individuals who follow it. I find that many individuals are not cognizant of the fact that society rests upon conventions. Consequently, these individuals often exist with twisted ideas of reality. Conclusions in this realm parallel closely with arguments made by Samuel Butler in his novel, Erewhon. "In spite of all the to-do they make about their idols, and the temples they build, and the priests and priestesses whom they support, I could never think that their professed religion was more than skin-deep; but they had another which they carried with them into all their actions; and although no one from the outside of things would suspect it to have any existence at all, it was in reality their great guide, the mariner's compass of their lives; so that there were very few things which they ever either did, or refrained from doing, without reference to its precepts." -Samuel Butler, Erewhon Convention enables members of society to communicate. Without convention, communication between individuals would... ... middle of paper ... ...urse, the society in 1984 is fictional and seems less of a possible reality now that the major societies which the novel was based upon are no longer in existence. Yet the possibility still exists. Essentially, the role of convention in society is to provide the existence of society through communication. Convention also enables societies to control the advent of innovations that attempt to modify society. Furthermore, individual incognizance of a society's conventional dependence can foster a skewed sense of reality. On a final note, one must remember that rigidity of convention can be detrimental to a given society, or even worse, just detrimental to individual freedom and creativity while ensuring the ultimate self-perpetuation of society. Work Cited Butler, Samuel. Erewhon. New York: Penguin, 1970.

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