The Theory of Society  by Wayne M. Angel, Ph.D.

Introduction: Theory Overview



The Quest - A Preface

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The Theory of Society
    Theory Overview

    Contents Description

  Evolutionary Society
  Relation Dynamics
  Relation Thermodynamics
  Decision Making
  All the Rest of Psychology
  Operations Model
  Theory Verification

Organization Simulations

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It seems to me that a complete theory of society must include

  1. A physical model of the world
  2. An organization model
  3. A human decision model
  4. An operations model

The physical model is necessary because a society must operate within the bounds of what is physically possible.  This includes the three broad subject areas of resources, environmental dynamics, and technological feasibility.  As individuals come together to form groups there are organizational dynamics that come into play independent of the nature of human behavior.  We need to properly understand these.  The critical factor of human behavior we need to understand is how humans make decisions.  Organizations do not make decisions, only the individuals within them make decisions.  One cannot, of course, understand human decision making without the broader understanding of human behavior.  Finally I require an operations model that depicts how organizations (societies) operate, how decisions at specific points in time affect outcome, and how various measures change over time. 

I will say nothing about physical models of the world in this section.  These are well developed disciplines.  When putting together specific organization models I have frequently found it necessary to bring in or interface to one or more physical models.  I will discuss those physical models in the next section when I discuss specific simulations.

The operations model is not a separate subject discipline.  It is a view of the integrated activity of the first 3 models.  The first 3 models will tend to deal with how the scheme-of-things are put together.  Although behavior follows from these structural models, it is often not directly obvious how an organization will behave.  The operations model will give us the ability to simulate behavior and to forecast future conditions.

One can depict this in the following diagram.

Table Overview of the Structure of a Theory of Society

There is nothing new about such structural divisions.

            Once we have Adam and Eve, however (or whatever they called themselves), with the genetic structure of Homo Sapiens, evolution passed into a new phase and a "higher gear" in terms of human artifacts and accelerated markedly.  .  .  .  They are of three major kinds: material artifacts - from the first eoliths and flint instruments to the space shuttle - which have been produced in a fantastic variety far exceeding the variety of biological species.  Then there are organizational artifacts, which usually involve a complex of supporting material artifacts plus behavioral and role patterns, and mental images.  They stretch from the original hunting-gathering band through General Motors, the United Nations, and NASA.  Then there are the personal artifacts - that is, human beings themselves.  Such species include the knowledge and evaluation structure of our brains and the skills of our body, the language we speak and write, and the almost infinite variety of reactions to our physical, biological, and human environment.  .  .  .  All these human artifacts - Things, Organizations, and People - have been and continue to be produced in a vast worldwide drama, which I have called, rather playfully, the "TOP" saga.

                                                                        Boulding [1981, 15]

This TOP saga is at its most fundamental level an evolutionary process.  An analysis of the evolutionary nature of society is easiest with technology because it leaves physical artifacts.  Neither organizations nor psychological processes leave direct physical artifacts.  I maintain that the fundamental process that drives the evolutionary process in each of the TOP components is the same and takes place in the human mind.  Thus whatever we can discover about the technological evolutionary process can be applied to the other two components.  This is such a critical issue that I devote the next chapter to it. 

I start building a theory of society with memetics.  Memes will be the means by which I integrate technology, individual human behavior, cultural behavior, and organization dynamics.  The importance of meme dynamics goes well beyond just the metaphor of a glue to bind the above model.  The memetic micro-theory will provide a major component of individual human behavior needed for a society model.  Both technological evolution and cultural evolution will be direct outcomes of a memetic macro-theory.  Everything that happens at the macro level is simply the reflection of the activity at the micro level aggregated.  One could easily say that a Theory of Society is the combination of Meme Dynamics and Organization Dynamics and no more. 

One could easily say that psychology is the study of memes and the meme processor, i.e.  the human mind.  Sociology is the study of meme exchange between meme processors.

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(C) 2005-2014 Wayne M. Angel.  All rights reserved.