|Organisms and societies belong to one class of metasystems; these consist
of aggregates of autonomous unities that can be cellular or metacellular.
An observer can distinguish the different metasystems of this class by
the different degrees of autonomy he sees possible in their components.
Thus, if he should put them in a series according to the degree of dependency
of their components (in their embodiment as autonomous unities) on
their participation in the metasystem they form, organisms and human social
systems would be at the opposite ends of the series. Organisms would be
metasystems of components with minimum autonomy, i.e., components with
very little or no dimension of independent existence. Human societies,
however, would be metasystems of components with maximum autonomy, i.e.,
components with many dimensions of independent existence. Societies made
up of other metacellulars, such as insect societies, would be located at
different intermediate points. The differences between these metasystems,
however, are operational. Given some transformations in the respective
internal and relational dynamics, they can move in one direction or other
within the series. Let us look now at the differences between organisms
and human social systems.
As metacellular systems, organisms have operational closure in the reciprocal structural coupling of their component cells. The central feature in the organization of an organism lies in its manner of being a unity in an environment wherein it must operate with stable properties that permit it to conserve its adaptation, whatever the properties of its components may be. This has a basic evolutionary consequence, viz., the conservation of adaptation of organisms in a particular lineage selects, recurrently, stabilization of the properties of their component cells. The genetic and ontogenetic stability of the cell processes that constitute the organisms of each species and the existence of organic processes that can eliminate abnormal cells reveal that this is so.
In human social systems, the case is different. As human communities these systems have operational closure, too, in the structural coupling of their components. But human social systems exist also as unities for their components in the realm of language. Therefore, the identity of human social systems depends on the conservation of adaptation of human beings not only as organisms (in a general sense) but also as components of their linguistic domains. Now, the evolutionary history of human beings is associated with their linguistic behavior. It is a history wherein that ontogenic behavioral plasticity is chosen which makes linguistic domains possible and wherein the conservation of adaptation of human beings as organisms requires their operation in those domains and the conservation of that plasticity. Just as the existence of an organism requires the operational stability of its components, the existence of a human social system requires the operational (behavioral) plasticity of those components. Just as organisms require nonlinguistic structural coupling between their components, human social systems require components structurally coupled in linguistic domains, where they (the components) can operate with language and be observers. Consequently, essential to the operation of an organism is the organism itself; from it results limitation of the properties of its components. On the other hand, central to the operation of a human social system is the linguistic domain that its components generate and the extension of their properties--a condition necessary for the embodiment of language, which is their realm or domain of existence. The organism restricts the individual creativity of its component unities, as these unities exist for that organism. The human social system amplifies the individual creativity of its components, as that system exists for these components.
Coherence and harmony in relations and interactions between the components of each particular organism, in its development as an individual, are due to genetic and ontogenetic factors that restrict the structural plasticity of its components. Coherence and harmony in relations and interactions between the members of a human social system are due to the coherence and harmony of their growth in it, in an ongoing social learning which their own social (linguistic) operation defines and which is possible thanks to the genetic and ontogenetic processes that permit structural plasticity of the members.
Organisms and human social systems, therefore, are opposite cases in the series of metasystems formed by the aggregation of cellular systems of any order. Among them we have (besides different types of social systems made up of other animals) those human communities which, because they embody enforced mechanisms of stabilization in all the behavioral dimensions of their members, constitute impaired human social systems: they have lost their vigor and have depersonalized their components; they have become more like an organism, as in the case of Sparta. Organisms and human social systems cannot be compared without distorting or negating the features proper to their respective components.
Any analysis of human social phenomena that does not include these considerations will be defective, for it negates the biologic roots of those phenomena.