Margaret Thatcher's Society Statement
"There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families." MT
Maragaret Thatcher's statement is very interesting from a Dooyeweerdian point of view, and his theory of entities and theory of the human person.
- There are natural and constructed entities. The former include non-living things, plants, animals and human beings. The latter includes such things as family and state.
- 'men and women' are natural entities.
- But, as natural entities, men and women function in all aspects, including the social and post-social. Therefore it is at best misleading to say or imply that men and women are primarily 'individuals'. To make that claim means denying that we function all the time in the social and post-social aspects.
- Families are constructed entities, with a biotic qualifying aspect.
- The state is a constructed entity, with a juridical qualifying aspect. It might be that this is what MT meant by 'society', but I doubt it.
- Society, to Dooyeweerd, is not an entity, not even a constructed entity. It is, rather an Umwelt, an environment. A constructed entity has a qualifying or leading aspect. An Umwelt does not, but is a coherence of aspects. The relationship between an Umwelt and its denizens is one of correlative enkapsis. Therefore, Dooyeweerd would agree with MT if she meant 'there is no such entity as society - there are families and states that are entities but no such entity as society.'
- But she said 'thing', not 'entity'. A thing could refer to what we can distinguish and name by our analytic and lingual functioning. In that case, Dooyeweerd would disagree with MT since we can form a distinct concept of society, even in its Umwelt form; indeed MT did so herself. Therefore, this is nothing more than a quibble, and I believe that what she was getting at was this idea that society is an Umwelt.
- Finally, some possible implications of her statement, accepting that she was differentiating between Umwelt and entities. "There is no such thing ...". She was not functioning as a philosopher, making a reflective ontological statement. Rather, she was issuing polemic as part of argument. The implication of this is "This Umwelt, society, does not matter, does not come into our considerations, and we have no responsibility towards it." If this is so, then Dooyeweerd would disagree. He believed we have responsibility towards everything, as image of God to the whole creation. The whole creation does include Umwelten (or is it Umwelter?). In particular, we have a responsibility towards those other Umwelter, the environment and the community.
This page provides examples illustrating various things within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.
Copyright (c) 2004 Andrew Basden.
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Created: 21 June 2004