It seems to me that a
complete theory of society must include
- A physical model of the world
- An organization model
- A human decision model
- 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 184.108.40.206: 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"
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
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