PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, April 04, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Integration in Society +NEWS

NEWS from the Centro Segoviano for today Friday

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Integration in Society

No doubt this is a very apt and relevant topic for us today, not least
because many of us do not live in the country of our birth. Both Ruel
and I have written an essay on the topic.

Hi Lawrence,
I wrote an essay on Sunday´s topic. Here is the link to access it:
See you at PhiloMadrid.

Presentation - Tres Años Sin Bea - Centro Segoviano 4 April
Please check out this link for more details:

Integration in Society

Despite the efforts of some radical politicians, societies are
influenced by two shaping forces. The first is the internal dynamics of
the society itself that plays a pivotal role in defining the makeup of a
society. The other force is the influence of other external societies,
including individuals from other societies. Indeed, given that societies
are constituted by biological open systems, i.e. human beings, societies
cannot be hermetically sealed systems.

In a stable society with a well established mechanism to channel the
interaction of individuals we can expect integration to be a key issue
for two types of individuals. Firstly, those individuals who are born
within the society but who find it difficult to conform to the accepted
norms so they forced to function at the peripheral margins of society.
As Matilda argues last week, there are people who try to escape their
harsh reality by writing poetry and others who take drugs; those who
take drugs are assumed not to have integrated in society. The second
would be the group of outsiders who join, or try to join, a foreign society.

Of course, a weakness of open systems is that they are very susceptible
to instability. The advantages of having genetic diversity in a society,
is counterbalanced by the inherent instability created by the changing
dynamics of having to introduce new members into the society. And
although we can all agree that maintaining a reasonable equilibrium
between these two forces is not easy, we can also agree that having a
stable society is a very desirable objective.

But the issue is not a choice between a stable society, through
stagnation, or a dynamic society because of genetic diversity. The issue
is how to arrive at an equitable equilibrium without reaching a critical
mass that can lead a disintegration of society itself.

Some closed societies will try to achieve equilibrium by simply
"stagnating" the very society itself. Thus dissidents within the society
are somehow removed from society before they become a danger to that
society. And outsiders are aggressively kept out for the very same
reason; China and N Korea are prime examples of these types of stagnant
societies. The question is whether stagnant societies are determined to
become incestuous societies (at least metaphorically speaking) or simple
become extinct with time?

Many African countries are examples where the colonial distribution of
tribes into geographical demarcations resulted into a mixture of
ancestral backgrounds that just made it impossible for each separate
society to live within a given confine. Burundi is one such example.

The integration of individuals in a society is a balance between
individual survival and to maintain the equilibrium that is necessary
for a stable and functioning society. We can safely assume that
individuals both try to achieve an acceptable level of happiness and an
acceptable level of comfort. This does not mean that we all want to be
rich but rather we all want to reach a level of living standard we are
happy with. I would argue we can all be reasonably well off and have a
comfortable life if remuneration and wealth is a function of our
legitimate contribution to society and not through illegitimate gains we
can make at the cost of society.

When we just look at the bottom line we fail to see how we arrived at
that profit balance. Thus there is always the danger that a society can
become a means to extract wealth from rather than a means to create
wealth for equitable remuneration. I would also argue that integration
of individuals in society becomes a major problem, for both the
individuals and society, when society puts more value on the
accumulation of wealth rather than the method of accumulating wealth.

Whilst money can solve a lot of problems for individuals and society, it
is not the only issue that affects integration in society: there are two
other issues that play a major role in the integration process. The
first is culture and tradition, which I will include the legal system
and religion, and the second is language.

Culture and tradition have a causal effect on the moral and ethical
standards of a society. Thus the more a society needs dogma to keep it
together (N. Korea, Iran etc) the more its ethics feels flawed. The more
an ethical system is based on empirical evidence the likelier we are
able to relate to it and accept its precepts. Countries that pay fair
wages tend to be more stable; e.g. Sweden despite the flaws one would
expect in any society.

Thus, the more an individual deviates from the moral and ethical
standards of a society the more integration would become an issue. For
example, a major issue today in European countries is the so called
"female circumcision". From all aspect on life in Europe we find this
practice abhorrent and barbaric; many societies in Africa and the Middle
East find this normal. The challenge is to find the balance between two
different ethical systems, but the bottom line is that empirically this
practice is dangerous, painful and discriminatory and therefore unlikely
to be morally acceptable by any objective standards.

Finally, the second issue is language. By its very nature, language is
both discriminatory and, up to an extent, racist. Discriminatory because
people who do not speak a given language are excluded from the
communication loop of that language. And racist because until now
languages have been closely, if not causally associated, with a given
race or society. And within a given language accent would be a further
complication of the issue.

The misconception about learning a second language is that we have to be
as proficient in it as a native speaker to claim that we can speak the
target language. This will never happen unless one is prepared to spend
a life time living in the culture of target language. Second generation
immigrants have no problem learning and using the target language of
their parents. This evidence suggests that although learning a second
language is difficult it is not impossible. The positive side of
language is that we don't need to reach any equilibrium or a balance to
integrate in a society; knowing the language enough to enter and stay in
the language communication loop is sufficient.

If we accept this language argument, i.e. that language can help us
access the society language communication loop, it gives us a relatively
effective foot hold in that society.

Thus, language and an empirically based ethical system should probably
help us much better to integrate into any society that have these two
membership criteria, rather than a society based on some irrational dogma.

A final observation is that with issues and money and ethics we are
really looking at a balance between extremes, language gives us a
threshold for easy integration, but is the relationship between an
empirically based society and a dogma society? Can these live side by
side or too contradictory that there is no room for both?

See you Sunday

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Integration in Society +NEWS

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