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June 21, 2010


Cyrus Hall

While I agree with your general thesis, you do leave out the important interplay between the "complex" individual and the complex society. The individual is, by birth, granted many things (an education, technology, philosophy), a very small subset of which they could reasonably be expected to develop on their own. Through a lifetime of work those boons are echoed back to the host society, often amplified by synthesis and context. These echoes are what drive social change. (I'll resist making a Kurzweilian argument about rate of change here, as I think that confuses technology with society, although that boundary seems to be getting fuzzier.)

None of this is counter to your argument, but is rather a little nuance that may help to explain the common interpretation that you seek to dispel. If the echoing of societies complexity from the individual is mistaken as personal greatness (and it often is), it would be little wonder that many interpret the individual as the basis for a societies status.

Justin Smith

Cyrus: I probably did state the case a bit too radically. After all, I agree that a complex society works in complex ways on the individuals who make it up. But in the end I think we both agree that it's just a matter of 'same brains, different circumstances'.

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