Are the variable functional capacities of social structures rooted in human nature?

  • Danie Strauss North-West University, South Africa

Abstract

Is die variabele funksionele moontlikhede van sosiale strukture in die menslike natuur gewortel?
Nadenke oor die “menslike natuur” word dwarsdeur die Westerse intellektuele tradisie aangetref. Sedert die Griekse oudheid is die menslike natuur in verband gebring met die aard van die menslike samelewing. Die effek daarvan was dat die menslike natuur ʼn mede-bepalende rol met betrekking tot die strukturering van die samelewing ontvang het. Die implikasie hiervan was dat die tipe wette vir die menslike samelewing van die menslike natuur afhanklik geword het in plaas daarvan dat dit normerend is daarvoor. Gesien vanuit ʼn sistematiese perspektief het dit aanleiding tot ʼn misverstaan van die verhouding tussen modale universaliteit en tipe wette gegee. Konkrete sosiale entiteite funksioneer op ʼn tiponomiese wyse binne die verskeidenheid modale aspekte en  bring sodoende hul “tipo-nomiteit” tot uitdrukking. Desnieteenstaande vertoon die skopus van die modale aspekte ʼn ongespesifiseerde universaliteit. Die verband tussen die menslike natuur en die menslike samelewing het onlangs na vore getree in ʼn werk van Jonathan Chaplin. Hy argumenteer dat die normatiewe sosiale strukture “veranderlike, historiese kanale [is] vir die gemeenskaplike strewe na spesifieke, hoewel universele, funksionele moontlikhede wat in die (geskape) menslike natuur gewortel is”. Die eerste deel van hierdie artikel ondersoek ʼn aantal betekenisvolle historiese lyne – vanaf Sokrates, Plato, Aristoteles, Aquinas en Marsilius van Padua tot by die moderniteit en postmoderniteit. In die loop van die geskiedenis is die mens as ʼn redelik-sedelike wese gesien wat die impuls beliggaam om tot gemeenskapsvorming oor te gaan. Sedert Marsilius van Padua het die tema van die outonomie van die mens in noue verband met die sogenaamde Kopernikaanse revolusie in die kennisleer na vore getree. Dit sou eventueel aanleiding gee tot die motief van die logiese skepping van die werklikheid asook die sosiale konstruksie  daarvan. Op hul eie manier het Lakoff, Johnson en Merleau-Ponty ʼn siening van die menslike subjek ontwikkel wat aan hierdie subjek die vermoë toeken om vorm te gee aan die moontlikhede vir konseptualisering en kategorisering. Merleau-Ponty glo dat “our body is not primarily in space, it is of i.”. Die res van die artikel bespreek sommige elemente in die alternatiewe benadering wat Chaplin ontwikkel rakende die menslike natuur en die opbloei daarvan. Dit begin met die behandeling van ʼn misverstaan van Dooyeweerd se idee van die akt-struktuur as een van die liggaamlike individualiteit-strukture van ʼn persoon (toegelig met ʼn skets). Chaplin se doel is om ʼn alternatiewe siening daar te stel – een waarin die beginsels van die moontlikheid waarvan Dooyeweerd praat waardeer word as ten volle ingebed in die menslike natuur. Hierdie beginsels sou dan volgens hom te voorskyn tree vanuit die “moontlikhede of potensiaal wat met die geskape struktuur van die menslike persoon meegegee is”. Dit blyk egter dat hierdie alternatief gebuk gaan onder ʼn aantal probleme wat intiem met die relasie tussen modale universaliteit en tipe wette verweef is,asook  met vier kwessies wat in paragrawe 21-24 in meer besonderhede bespreek word. In hierdie vier paragrawe word aandag gegee aan modale wette en tipe wette asook aan die onderskeiding tussen konstantheid en verandering (beginsel en uiteenlopende positiverings) en vervolgens aan die vraag of die struktuurbeginsel van die staat slegs gedurende die afgelope paar honderd jaar na vore getree het. Die oorkoepelende gevolgtrekking waartoe gekom word is dat nóg modale wette (norme) nòg tipe wette (norme) hul normerende aard aan die menslike natuur ontleen. Dit is veeleerder die geval dat hierdie norme deur die menslike subjek in ag geneem moet word – en dit kan of op ʼn norm-gehoorsame of op ʼn antinormatiewe wyse geskied. Die veranderlike funksionele moontlikhede van sosiale strukture is daarom nie in die menslike natuur gegrond nie – hulle is gewortel in die toepaslike modale wette en tipe wette....

Reflections on “human nature” are found throughout the Western intellectual legacy. From Greek antiquity onwards human nature has been related to an understanding of human society. The effect was that human nature acquired a mediating or co-conditioning role in respect of the way in which society is shaped or structured. The implication is that the type laws for human society became dependent upon human nature instead of norming it. From a systematic perspective this amounts to a misunderstanding of the relationship between modal universality and the typicality of type laws. Concrete societal entities function in a typonomic way within the various modal aspects, thus reflecting their “typonomicity”. However, the scope of the modal aspects of reality  displays an unspecified universality. The link between human nature and human society recently surfaced in a work of Jonathan Chaplin. He argues that normative societal structures are “variable, historical channels for the communal pursuit of specific, though universal, functional capacities rooted in (created) human nature”. The first part of this article investigates a number of significant historical lines, running via Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Marsilius of Padua to modernity and post-modernity. Throughout this history the human person as a rational-ethical being embodies an impulse towards the formation of community. Since Marsilius of Padua the theme of human autonomy has surfaced in close relation to the so-called Copernican turn in epistemology  which eventually has given birth to the motive of logical creation and the social construction of reality. In their own way Lakoff, Johnson and Merleau-Ponty have developed a view of the human subject in its supposed shaping of the very possibilities for conceptualization and categorization. Merleau-Ponty believes that “our body is not primarily in space, it is of it”. The rest of the article discusses some elements of Chaplin’s alternative view on the capacities of human nature and their role in the flourishing of being human. It commences with a misunderstanding of Dooyeweerd’s idea of the act-structure as one of the bodily individuality-structures of a person (illuminated in a Diagram). His aim is to provide an alternative view – one in which the principles of possibility of which Dooyeweerd speaks are seen as fully embedded in human nature. These principles are viewed by him as emerging from the “possibilities or potentials given with the created structure of the human person”. It turns out that this alternative view suffers from a number of problems, intimately related to an alternative understanding of the relation between modal universality and type laws, as well as four issues discussed in more detail (paragraphs 21-24). In these paragraphs modal universality and type laws are discussed as well as the distinction between constancy and change (principle and variable positivization) and the question whether or not the structural principle of the state has only emerged during the past few centuries. The overall conclusion reached is that neither modal laws (norms) nor type laws (norms) derive their norming meaning from human nature. Rather, these norms should be observed by human subjects, whether in a normconformingor  antinormative way. The variable functional capacities of social structures are therefore not rooted in human nature – they are rooted in the applicable modal laws and societal type laws.

Published
2016-07-29
How to Cite
Strauss, D. (2016). Are the variable functional capacities of social structures rooted in human nature?. Tydskrif Vir Christelike Wetenskap | Journal for Christian Scholarship, 52(2), 201-226. Retrieved from http://pubs.ufs.ac.za/index.php/tcw/article/view/397
Section
Artikels | Articles

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