Man is known as a gregarious animal, which is incomplete in the absence of a society or group. The world is divided into seven continents, and every continent comprises a number of countries. Every individual has a place to live on the earth, and he does not live alone. He lives with his family, and his family in turn is a part of his society. All these societies combined together constitute the world. We have learned a lot about individual behavior and societal structure though a number of knowledge areas such as sciences, arts, history, religion, economics and ethics etc.
Science is an area of knowledge that is precise and perfect as it is based on empiric evidence, observations and experience. No scientific hypothesis is sealed with a mark of authenticity unless it is accompanied by substantial evidence. It is the knowledge given by science alone that we know that we are human sapiens-the most rational creatures in this world. We know that every individual has a mind and heart, and that he or she is afraid of isolation and loneliness. Not to talk of modern man, even the gypsies and Nomads in Africa lived in a society whether on land or on trees! An individual cannot live without a society. The proof is evident not only in the modern world but in the prehistoric world also.
“Charles Darwin through his revolutionary theory of evolution tells that man evolved from lower animals such as monkeys and apes over a period of millions of years.”1 Even before becoming humans, the apes and monkeys too lived in their own groups. Darwin contradicts the popular belief that we are the posterity of Adam and Eve. There was no such first man as is declared by creationism in the bible. And even if there were a first man, he too asked his maker for a companion, Eve. Thus an individual needs a society. Through archeology we have come to learn about the civilizations that flourished on the earth from time to time-Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Incan, Greek, Persian, Harappan etc.
Thus individuals always prefer to living in society to living alone. Archaeological evidences point at the colonies, towns and cities lying buried deep under the recesses of the earth that had a proper order and infrastructure. Excavations have also discovered mass graves that further prove the individual instinct of a man for keeping together. Through archeology we know that an individual had faith in some superpower be it a god or the sun. He was afraid of natural disasters that were beyond his comprehension, such as floods, earthquakes and volcanoes, and in order to overcome these fears he developed a society where he felt safe and comfortable, and equipped himself with tools made of stone, in the Stone Age.
Modern science based on the study of the genetics shows that every individual shares the behavioral traits of his parents, and that an individual is a mirror of his family and society. Economics as a science shows that an individual needs a society in order to survive. Whether it is the barter system or the exchange of goods and services, he cannot exist on his own. Science also shows that man, being a rational creature, follows an ideology of his own, and wants to prefer to live with the people sharing his ideologies and viewpoints.
For example, as per a report from a survey conducted in the U.S., it has been found out that individuals tend to live at places, the names of whose start with their names. In my country India too there are colonies and towns that start with the names and surnames of people, and it is not surprising that most of the people residing there share that very name. Today we have over hundreds of languages and dialects in the world, a fact that shows that man started living in societies, and formed his own language, culture and customs.
Science plays an essential role in our learning of the societies as both of them are based on a set of rules and principles. Through history we have read about the disintegration of the civilizations which points at the dissent among individuals, and also at a conflict between man and his society. The reasons may have been many such as wars or natural disasters but one thing that cannot be denied is that a society can function only when there is a code of conduct and a discipline, and an individual’s challenge to the society can be detrimental to him Scientific research indicates that individuals belonging to a society share similar nature and behavior.
But can science precisely tell about the unpredictable nature of a man, of an individual who has his own perceptions, logic, reason, faith and viewpoints? No, science cannot. Through psychology we know that an individual acts according to his own bent of mind, his own fears, dreams and hopes. There is no fixed pattern that governs the actions of an individual. Thus science fails to predict the behavior of a man, as man is stubborn and unpredictable by nature. An individual is not a molecule with a definite mass and definite number of atoms. Science can never know what is there in the mind of a man, and what he is going to do next. And if science could achieve this impossible goal, we would be living in a Utopian society, and not in a patriarchal one, where there would be no crimes and injustice.
Literature is very helpful in learning about the nature of an individual. Through literature we can know what it is to live in poverty, and how it feels when one falls in love. Literature tells us that sometimes an individual does not change with the changing times. We have many societies in the world, where racism, caste and creed are still the order of the day. Reading the autobiography of Hitler we can understand his ideology and his role as a Fuhrer in the Nazi society.
We can understand the reasons that urged the Germans to worship him. By reading the book, Schindler’s List we can feel the horrors and uncertainties of life of the Jews that were incarcerated in the concentration camps. Literature has the power to influence an individual and even change him. Even today we find the same element of hatred and animosity between the German and the Jewish societies that existed 60 years ago. Thus a society is nothing but a reflection of its individuals. The novels written by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky tell us about the ideology of the Russian people in the 18th century, and how individuals favored a communist society. But studying the literature written during the cold war, we can learn about the grip of communism loosening its grip on the individuals, and also how the USSR disintegrated.