How is Society Possible? Conflict, Cooperation and Social Theory

Course Code: PHIL 2010

Academic Year: 2021-2022

What constitutes the social glue that binds individuals together to form a society? How conflict managed and sufficient cooperation is produced to ensure the continuity of community? How are exchange and society best organized? Study of the emergence of the earliest human groupings reveal that internal threats of violence were first contained and managed through violent practices such as sacrifice. Thus, the earliest forms of social organization appear to be built around ritual and Religion. Politics and Economy soon follow and, along with Religion, these comprise the three major principles for understanding cooperation and collective beliefs, managing conflict, the ordering of societies into different classes or groups, and the distribution of resources. Examining issues such as the concept of human nature, primitive violence, ritual, the dynamics of group behaviour, the emergence of formalized systems of knowledge, the development of political and social institutions, exchange and the distribution of scarce resources, and how modern capitalism transforms human behaviour, students reflect on these questions in a critical manner. Through a study of the works of Durkheim, Rene Girard, Freud, Weber, Aristotle, Wallerstein, Mandeville, Veblen, Rousseau, Hayek, Simmel, Foucault, Adorno and Baudrillard, this course provides an introduction to social theory. Category and Level: Arts and Humanities, Lower Level Restrictions: None