MORE HUMAN THAN YOU, MAN:
THE DECONSTRUCTION OF ANTHROPOMORPHIZED SOCIAL SYSTEMS
Bryan Thomas Neal
B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2006
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Humanities
This thesis for the Master of Humanities
Bryan Thomas Need
has been approved
Neal, Bryan Thomas (M.H., College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
More Human than you Man: The Deconstruction of Anthropomorphized Social
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Mark Tanzer
Both naturally and analogously, organizations grow into form of man.
The process of western civilization provides evidence of a growingly
physiological, anthropomorphized social model. Marxs view of religion as
opiates for the masses supports the fact that our Leviathan may have its own
endocrine system. Our philosophy holds that such systems are valuable for the
profit, power, and growth of mankind and indeed they prove successful. So, being
that our nations take this same form, and capitalist philosophies are currently
spreading throughout the globe, I urge our leaders to maintain a realistically
material understanding of their extended effects on the environment. Applying the
anthropomorphic fallacy that clings to the idea of eternal life ignores our needfor
resourcefulness in a very limited material existence. Corporate CEOs have been
known to learn the essence of anthropomorphized systems, and take advantage of
them for personal gain at the expense of the other parts in the corporate body,
which I remind you are composed of real people. A leader who suffers from
delusions of grandeur will, no doubt, perceive himself to be vital while other
members of the organization are viewed as relatively expendable. I ask that
people are more conservative, both environmentally and as humanitarians, when
they hold positions ofpower. Each individuals quest for profit, power, and
growth should be nurtured by the leaders who will also profit from their success.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
To my beloved and nurturing wife, Megan...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. THE DECONSTRUCTION...................................6
The Sociology of Behavior and Conflict..........11
Anthropomorphism in Western Philosophy..........23
St. Pauls One Body, Many Parts.............39
Thomas Hobbes Leviathan....................42
Man as Machine........................42
The Corporate Entity........................50
History of Corporate Dominance........54
Corporate Social Responsibility.........56
Groundwork for Corporate Species Being....58
and the Will to Power.............64
Philosophical Pyramid Schemes.......................66
THE DECONSTRUCTION OF
ANTHROPOMORPHIZED SOCIAL SYSTEMS
Why do humans create all things 'greater than themselves, i.e. god,
government, corporations, etc., in their own images?
I set forth to deconstruct the anthropomorphism of social systems as an
idealogy that is both prejudiced and self-destructive. By anthropomorphism, I refer
to the conception of something non-human, such as inanimate objects, animals, or
other natural phenomena, as having human attributes. So when I say that a social
system has been anthropomorphized, I mean to say that we have conceived the social
system as having human attributes, i.e. physiological structures, such as a nervous
system or a set of limbs, skin pigment, or maybe even spiritual structures. And by
deconstructing this anthropomorphism of social systems, I mean to uncover a
prejudice philosophy that ranks individuals as more or less deserving of profit, power,
and growth. According to Plato, St Paul, Thomas Hobbes, and the alter ego theorists,
only some of us are noble and therefore vital to our society. I believe their
philosophies encourage conflict and disdain among citizens.
The deconstruction of the anthropomorphism of social systems will make up
the main portion of my essay. Here, we will gain a social understanding of our local,
physiological beings and uncover the illusions of both soul and social spirit.
During the corporate portion, reviewing Nietzsches and Marxs ideas on human
nature and species being will help to explain both our psychological and sociological
identities. Marx, although recognized as anything but a psychologist (philosopher,
sociologist, economist, etc.), provides an account on alienation from each discipline
and thus a sufficient, isolated definition for the term. As a social scientist, he
provided many examples that are observable, with few exceptions (i.e., creativity and
purpose). Also, I will be referring to Nietzsches views on our instinct for rank, and
the will to power. When the anthropomorphism has been deconstructed, I will
recognize individual profit, power, and growth as a natural thing. These are what we
humans refer to as the good, but more suitably, the goods. However, I must also
acknowledge that our anthropomorphized social systems seek our same goals, both
analogously and exponentially, at the expense of resources we share.
Throughout the essay, I wish to introduce both harmful psychological and
environmental implications due to the anthropomorphism of social systems. The
western tradition of anthropomorphism mixed with pure nihilistic hedonism, or
pleasure-seeking, accelerates the rate at which we destroy our planet and our
resources for living. Eventually, but probably not in this paper, I wish to create a
political structure that mutually considers both environmental sustainability and the
desire (s) for profit, power, and growth among living things. How may we as
philosophers cultivate mankind with respect to these two issues simultaneously?
Currently, we face environmental and political problems that result from
corporate globalization. I consider the western trend of anthropomorphism to be
responsible. Historically, man has constantly sought to conquer the world. As the
world filled up, man began to conquer man in order to conquer more world, creating
hierarchies and pecking orders. And now that we scientifically manage both the
environment and ourselves with respect to these hierarchies and pecking orders, a
corporate leviathan has arisen. Corporate America has suffered increasing alienation
for over a century. When corporations gained personhood in Common Law
(practiced by the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and most of Canada),
the comprising individuals lost aspects of their own personhood. They became mere
expendable parts for a much larger body.
When humans lose their ability to grow, or rather when their socio-economic
positions do not reflect their own desire(s) for profit, power, and growth, they develop
a social neurosis. They begin to shrink back into their nooks. Their own
consciousness is lessened to that of a foot, hand, or some other thing which has no
consciousness at all. They are alienated from what Marx referred to as their species-
being, only in a psychological sense (i.e., losing themselves), as opposed to the
sociological which causes them to lose empathy with the human condition (i.e., losing
others). Not only do they lose their ability to grow as living things, but also their
ability to express empathy with other living things. Humans are by nature social, and
they thrive off of their relations with each other.
All this has been said as a socio-psychological caution; but there are
environmental cautions that we face also. Corporate persons among other artificial
persons, multiply the number of resources that we need and use. Not only must we
meet our own needs for food, shelter, clothing, etc., and this is why we do business in
the first place, but corporations have needs too, from having paperwork printed and
filed for tracking purposes to having their own trash removed, etc. Corporations
naturally create extra production costs and transaction costs, since these machines
must be fed too. Corporations create needs above and beyond the needs that we had
wished to fill when we created corporations in the first place. The carrot just keeps
getting further and further away from our mouths, so to speak. But, I hope that
eventually we may lift some of the burden that corporations were intended to relieve
in the first place. We must make business more independent and sustainable in
regards to relations with both workers and the environment, as opposed to
destructively dependent on natures most hidden/novel resources in our quest for
profit, power, and growth at the expense of others.
Before I move on, I would like to address the fact that anthropomorphic social
systems seem to be entirely natural. This is evident by their growing ability to take
on more physiological characteristics, reflecting progressive advances in the history
of psychology. Indeed, anthropomorphic social systems arise from the dust and
ashes, as does man. So, my biggest concern is to point out that these systems also
have a tendency to acquire abnormal psychological disorders projected by their
leaders, specifically those manifesting delusional states. The saying goes for
communism: some pigs are more equal than others. So, with this in mind, we must
be careful to elect good leaders who do not put their own needs or wants before the
needs of the many. They must be as one, in order for the anthropomorphized social
system to function efficiently. As I was very harsh to our friends Plato, St Paul,
Thomas Hobbes, and the alter ego theorists, I would like to encourage future readers
into accepting organizations as naturally anthropomorphic, and hope that they will
keep in mind the possibility that it is the misinterpretation of the readings which leads
us astray, and not the anthropomorphism of social systems in general.
Anthropomorphism is both a common and seemingly, natural tendency for
humans to perceive nonhuman animals or inanimate objects as having human
characteristics. I believe that the specific, anthropomorhic reification of our social
systems may provide a window into the way in which humans perceive themselves
and other living things in relation to themselves. Concerning natural ability and
strength, Hobbes believed that men were for the most part equal. But he also
believed that men were equal in their natural tendencies to inflate their own views
while deflating that of others. He claimed that men saw their own wit at hand, and
other mens at a distance. To Hobbes, this proved that men were both equal in their
misonceptions of each others true value.
Anthropomorphism is a type of reification. Reification is said to occur when
something that depends on human decision and/or action, for example, an institution
or social practice, is treated as if it cannot be so affected, but has some existence of its
own. Anthropomorphism is also a fallacy of ambiguity, or when an abstraction,
whether of belief or hypothetical construct, is treated as if it represented a concrete,
real event or physical entity. For example, when one person holds another's
allegiance, allegiance is being reified. Allegiance is only an abstract concept, while it
is based on the political ideology of the one who demands it. One might ask, are we
equivocating the term personhood? Considering what we have said in regards to
allegiance and power, I would say we currently are.
We generally accept the use of reification in literature and other forms of
discourse where the abstractions are understood to be intended metaphorically.
However, the use of reification in logical arguments is mostly deceptive, and in heavy
philosophical dialect it is usually difficult to determine if reification has been used
properly. So, we have to be careful when using reification in legal and academic
debates. With reification, the kinds of abstractions are usually philosophical or
ideological, especially the concepts of justice, good, and evil, as I have set to blame
on western civilization. Currently, it is possible that a reification circle has been set
in motion, which occurs when norms, initially perceived as both forced and
artificial/ideological, become accepted over time, and they become legal and/or social
The pathetic fallacy is a type of reification where the theoretical concepts are
not only considered alive, but human-like and intelligent as well. We commonly
ascribe subjective, especially emotional, qualities to the objects around us. We
pathetically (the word pathetically, in this case, is related to empathetically) describe
inanimate, natural objects in a manner that endows them with human feelings,
thoughts and sensations. For example, literary authors sometimes will express a
character's thoughts and feelings through their surroundings.
King Xerxes was said to have built two bridges during the Greco-Persian War
that were abruptly destroyed by a river he was crossing. Personally offended by this,
and only a delusional person would be, Xerxes paranoia led him to believe that the
river was consciously acting against him. Xerxes told the river that he would cross it,
with or without its permission. He then punished the river with whips and chains
for disobeying his orders. At this point, I feel that I must necessarily set forth an idea,
that it is absurd to believe that an object without a nervous system can experience
feelings and thoughts, let alone conceive punishment.
Chruches, various forms of government, corporations, and other social
systems are frequent subjects of anthropomorphism. In contrast, humans also have a
natural tendency to deny common traits with other species, specifically various
ranked and herd-like species (such are primates and cattle). They tend to agree that
humans are unique, special, and above all rational, unlike lesser beings with similar
Throughout history, countless religious sects have been called
anthropomorphites since they attribute human body parts, like hands and eyes to God.
Thomas Hobbes, Plato, and St Paul would also be considered anthropomorphites.
"God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and
female he created them (Genesis 1:27). In Hinduism, their gods are considered to
possess both human qualties and divine forms, although the degrees of divinity vary
(what a surprise!). In Vaishnavism, a division of Hinduism, Vishnu is considered the
highest god among others. Vishnu is the omniscient and benevolent one.
Many religious figures and philosophers have condemned anthropomorphism
for various reasons. Some Ancient Greek philosophers did not approve of its use.
They were hostile to their people's mythologies and often developed monotheistic
views in spite. The Greek philosopher Xenophanes claimed that god would resemble
man neither in form nor in mind. And currently, anthropomorphism of God is
condemned by Islam, since Muslims feel that God is beyond the human limits of
physical comprehension. I may be more inclined to believe in this sort of God
myself. I think of my nervous system as a piece of junk car that gets me from my job,
to school, and around town. The vehicle is not adequate for the prom or a wedding
night, since these are the most important experiences of our lives. Likewise, the
nervous system will not be adequate for our experience with God, if such an
experience even exists. The imagination would not be necessary, for God
suppossedly, is being. There is no becoming, and therefore no longing or desire,
which are the natures of this system at hand.
Some religious members believe that their deity or deities preceded human
characteristics. Theomorphism, or the bestowal of divine attributes on humanity,
rather than anthropomorphism, describes this phenomenon. According to their
beliefs, the deity or deities usually existed before humans, therefore humans were
created in the form of the divine. This conception seems to justify both Platos
conception of the craftsman and Aristotles conception of the Prime Mover, if it were
Found in ancient literature, Xenophanes was a Greek philosopher and poet
who critized the social and religious values of his time. He believed that human
knowledge could not arrive at certain truths, and it was only a matter of opinion.
With his poetry, he criticized and satirized the greek anthropomorphic gods. He
rejected the idea that the gods resembled humans in form. Xenophanes is famous for
believing that even oxen would design God in their own likeness, and is quoted
But mortals think the Gods are bom., and have dress and voice and form like unto
But if cattle and horses and lions with hands, could draw and accomplish works like
horse like to horses and cattle like to cattle would draw the forms of gods and
just as they themselves had, every one.
Africans say the gods are snub-nosed and black, Thracians say they are blue-eyed
and red-haired. (Russell, p )
Xenophanes believes, on the other hand, that God is an abstract, universal,
unchanging, immobile and always present being. There is only one God, that is
unlike humans in both body and mind, that causes change with thought alone (but
how does one think without a mind I ask?). Xenophanes disputed the
anthropomorphic polytheism of Homer and Hesiod based on his conviction that the
tales of the poets were directly responsible for the moral corruption of their time.
Xenophanes maintained there was only one godnamely, the world. He believed
that God shares its nature with the universe, but it bears no resemblance to human
When anthopomorphizing social systems, the legal conception and
recognition of churches, forms of government, and/or corporations as individual
persons may lead to harmful assumptions. In reality, they are just organizations that
are operated by capital and labor, constructed as outlets for profit, power, and growth.
The Sociology of Behavior and Conflict
Under a sociological lens, formal organizations, such are churches,
corporations, and governments, share several characteristics. They are deliberately
planned; they carry specific goals; they have longevity (or a lifetime); they follow
formal rules; and their roles and responsibilities are designated by their emergent
authorities. And over the years, several metaphors have been applied to these formal
organizations. Sociologists and philosophers have compared these organizations with
living organisms, such as people, but also with machines, wars, markets, and theatres
(i.e. the dramaturgical approach). What purpose do these analogies serve? I will
answer this question, referring to sociological theories of management and power.
Scientific Management is a managerial ideology designed by Frederick
Taylor. With it, we seek to legitimize authority and manager-worker relationships.
Taylors scientific management operates under Social Darwinism, the theory of the
survival of the fittest applied to social life rather than to biological life. From this
theoretical standpoint, success and riches are viewed as signs of progress and
successful managers are viewed as superior individuals. Their virtues may include
independence, initiative, and aggressiveness. When workers are biologically unfit,
they will fail. In response to the standpoint of Social Darwinism, survival of the
best theory viewed managers as morally superior, and their failure was attributed to
having a weak will.
Taylor believed that there was one best way to manage, through
standardization and the division of labor. Success results from the skillful use of
labor and the laborer. With scientific management we select, train, and teach
workers, so that there must be a division of labor between workers and managers. In
order to maximize productivity, this method makes use of time-motion studies, wage
systems, scores, charts, rankings, and standardization of movement.
Although Braverman disagreed with Taylor, believing that scientific
management represented a degradation of the worker and was not really science, he
felt it was the responsibility of the managers to lead the workers with their personality
skills. Braverman said, People are tractable, docile, gullible, uncritical and wanting
to be led.. .they want to feel united, tied, bound to something, some cause, bigger than
they, commanding them yet worthy of them, summoning them to significant living.
Through the use of cooperation by inducement and application of stable expectations
and rewards, managers will lead positive workers. For Braverman, management is
control, functioning like a brain that makes decisions on behalf of and in support of
the rest the body which serves it.
In order to compare my argument about the growingly physiological model of
anthropomorphized social systems with popular sociological theories of
organizational management, I must explain rationalization. Rationalization has been
the historical process by which nature, society, and individual action have become
increasingly mastered by an orientation to planning, technical procedure and rational
action. It is represented by modernization and the development of societytradition
is replaced with rationality, feeling with calculation, superstition with scientific
knowledge, values with practicality, and habit with procedure. Rationality is the
calculative comparison of means and ends. According to Max Weber, substantive
rationality is based on the criterion of ultimate value, concerned with ethical
standards, norms, values, social justice, and social equity, whereas formal rationality
is based on a straightforward application of quantitative, calculable standards, and
Weber describes four types of social action, but I will focus on instrumental
rational action, which is shaped by the anticipated consequences of action and its
efficiency. As a behaviorist and act utilitarian, I also believe that both individuals and
groups will make decisions with respect to instrumental rationality. Weber explains,
in organizing social action we designate a social order. He defines power as the
probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out
his will despite resistance or opposition. He also contrasts power with domination, or
the probability that certain specific commands, or even all commands, will be obeyed
by a given group of persons. Domination implies a minimum of voluntary
compliance and an interest in obedience, authority is legitimate, having both the right
to issue commands and rule over people. To create a mental image, power may be
viewed top-down, from the will of the ruler, while domination considers both the will
of the ruler and the subjects.
Among Webers different forms of legitimate authority, legal authority best
serves the evaluation of instrumental rational action(s). Legal authority requires a
highly structured administration, who seeks obedience to codified, impersonal rules.
Even the officials exercising their power are subject to the rule of law. And the most
rational and effective means of exercising authority, according to Weber, is
bureaucracy. It is precise, stable, and reliable, and it obtains a high degree of
calculability of results. In a bureaucratic office, you will find several defining
characteristics including: continuity of official business; jurisdictional areas;
hierarchy of offices; rules and regulations; technical competence; written records; and
Bureaucracies are not entirely efficient though. Parkinsons Law states that
work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. People, including
managers and directors, make frequent trips to the water coolers and bathrooms in
these environments. Most people are comfortable, even with their glass-ceilings
above them, since they work in an office setting with excellent benefits. According to
the Peter Principle, people only get promoted until they reach a designated level of
incompetence. Overly specific training hinders adaptability so that workers develop
a trained incapacity. Bureaucracy, itself, is an organizational scheme that cannot
correct its own behavior by learning from its errors. So, overall this type of
organization might be relatively expensive and dehumanizing.
Herbert Simon thought that the rationalization of organizations sacrificed
quality for quantity. These organizations aim to make work standardized, calculable,
and predictable. When we live rationally in the iron cage of bureaucracy, life
becomes less spontaneous and less emotionally connected. All of our responses are
programmed for us.
George Ritzer coined the term McDonaldization, which he defined as the
process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate
more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world. As
citizens, we experience this process on both sides of the counter. We are now
programmed to both make orders and take orders. And, concerning the predictability
that McDonaldization is suppose to provide us, we may really only predict the
inaccuracy of our orders to come, and that our counter helps will have made some
unpredictable error, or number of errors, on our receipt. If you make a complaint,
you may reasonably fear that your next order will come with some special sauce from
behind the counter. The dehumanization is unbearable.
Four reasonable aspects of these organizations inevitably lead to their
downfall: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control by technology.
Efficiency is the optimum method for getting from one state or point to another. In
order to be efficient, we simplify our products. Calculability refers to the
quantification of work into portions, costs, and time performed, and the use of
rankings, ratings, and grades with employees. Bigger, faster, and cheaper are
better. When work is predictable we understand what to expect with regards to
applying means and obtaining ends. Interaction becomes scripted and we are able to
perform risk management effectively. Finally, non-human technology provides for
reliability in production, and the building of assembly lines. For the worker, less
thinking is involved. And ultimately, both the work performed and the product
finished, will reflect this.
Together, these seemingly reasonable aspects of McDonaldized organizations
lead to an irrationality of rationality. Products tend to be unhealthy and unsafe.
Workers make unreasonable decisions and find themselves subject to longer lines.
The customers tend to see themselves as doing most of the work and having to pay
for it. Overall, the people involved are dehumanized and the workers are deskilled.
Randall Collins provides us with a conflict theory of organizations that is both
micro and empirically oriented. His specific goal was to extract reification from his
work, and we should be grateful. Literally and empirically, there is no organization
except in the actual behavior of real people at some moment in time; the organization
is whatever they do and think and say. I am not sure that we can allow the thinking
aspect yet, but Collins does well to see through the anthropomorphism. He believed
that individuals pursue their own interests. In response, super-ordinates use sanctions
to gain compliance from subordinates. Collins views organizations as arenas for
conflicting interests (and we know that every arena has a Caesar.. .our blood is on
their hands). Bureaucracy, once thought by Weber to be a tool to increase efficiency,
may now also be viewed as a tool to control people, once some leader has compliance
and therefore, legitimate authority.
In Collins theory of organizational control, he explains both coercion and
normative control. Coercion, the most primitive form of control, he defines as the use
of force to achieve desired behavior in subordinates. It requires constant surveillance
and evaluation, and often results in resistance, dull compliance, withdrawal, and
alienation. People make strong efforts to resist being coerced. When resources are
available for fighting back, people will use counter-aggression, as Marx has also
explained that the people revolt; but when the resources are not available, people will
escape. When neither counter-aggression nor escape is possible, but incentives are
given by the super-ordinates, people will give their exact compliance; but when there
are no incentives, the people will express dull compliance and passive resistance. A
workers performance is usually linked to some sort of material reward, as in pay or
promotion. Within an incentive system, workers perform specific actions and acquire
rewards in return. We call this process acquisitive motivation.
Normative control is both the use of socialization and control by ideals to
infuse organizational goals into workers minds. It is the strongest type of control for
producing worker motivation. Constant surveillance and evaluation from super-
ordinates are not necessary because the workers engage in self-monitoring. In order
to achieve normative control, super-ordinates co-opt subordinates into responsible
positions. This gives the appearance of decentralization of power. As responsible
subordinates give orders in the name of the organization, they come to identify more
with that organization. The more they have to prove their loyalty to acquire a
position of authority, the more they come to identify with the organization.
Nepotism, or favoritism based on personal ties, accelerates potential loyalty to an
organization since the people are already committed to each other before they are
Collins also explains organizational usage of administrative devices: direct
control, including surveillance, efficiency criterion, and rules; and indirect control,
such are information control and environmental control. Among the types of direct
control, surveillance occurs when a manager monitors a workers every action. It
requires many supervisors and they seek exact compliance. Efficiency criterion refers
to a direct control of products. The managers perform outcome inspections, including
ratings and evaluations, and they ensure a standardization of products. When
employees are not monitored by their supervisors, it is possible that they interpret the
instructions differently and perform their tasks inadequately. Rules are ways to
formalize surveillance and/or standards of efficiency. They create guidelines for
everybody to follow.
Information control is a type of indirect control. It is the control of exclusive
information within organizational uncertainty. Individuals carry power through the
possession of certain organizational knowledge. Whoever controls the most
organizational information is the authority. Environmental control is also a type of
indirect control. It is manifested in the structure of an organizations physical setting.
Each organization has a physical structure that constrains physical locations and the
arrangement of work. With the physical control of work and communication, the
leader is better able to make use of information control, efficiency, and surveillance.
Adam Smith believed that the division of labor was natural, and that self-interest
made it possible, not some love of humanity. It is not from the benevolence of the
butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to
their own interest. Our economic organization creates our social order.
Eventually, William Ouchi introduced the idea of clans, organic associations
that resemble kin networks but do not necessarily include blood relations. For
example, Japanese firms have hired inexperienced workers specifically to socialize
them for the firm. Clans thrive off of the members interdependency and require
trust. Usually clans host traditions in order to secure reciprocity among members,
legitimated authority, and common values and beliefs. [As both a conflict theorist
and behaviorist, I am forced to reject the idea of believing in traditional views that
carry with them several anthropomorphisms, reifications, or what have you. A
development of future traditions would be difficult, and will require the work of more
than just one philosopher. Several academic disciplines must work to push out these
Actions are always embedded within their social context. Behaviors and
institutions are constrained by our ongoing social relations. In under-socialized views
of economic actions, social actors are assumed to behave or make decisions as atoms
outside a social context. Social contexts are often abstracted and ignored. Individual,
rational actors become less affected by traditional social relations or kinship
obligations. The over-socialized view represents an internalization of values.
Members blindly follow scripts written for them by their particular social categories.
Thus, the effectiveness of hierarchal power is exaggerated.
In contrast to hierarchal structure (but not necessarily, considering the various
ways that we can manipulate networks through the use of our structural holes, which I
will introduce in my section on philosophical pyramid schemes), networks are
collections of actors that pursue repeated, enduring exchange relations with one
another, and at the same time lack a legitimate organizational authority to arbitrate
and resolve disputes that may arise during the exchange. Network forms of
organizations provide a lens for examining both the individual relationships within
and between organizations to the inter-organizational relations.
Networks create lateral patterns of exchange, having interdependent flows of
resources, and reciprocal lines of communication. There is generally a climate for
mutual benefit and networks are neither formal nor impersonal. Communication is
relational to a commitment among the parties and not related to prices or routines.
Control is based on reciprocity and reputation as opposed to haggling or domination.
Networks provide for flexibility in contracts and decisions. Some examples of
networking firms include publishing editors and authors, and also film and recording
industries. Network forms of organization are also used in strategic alliances and
partnerships, business groups, franchises, and outsourcing agreements.
In contrast to organizations, viewed as rational, expendable, and technical
instruments used to achieve specific goals, institutions were introduced as adaptive
social organizations with distinctive identities consisting of their own historically
developed particular values.
Institutionalization refers to the historical process of the organizational
formation of self-identity, involving the process of permeating organizations with
values beyond the rational requirements of calculating means and ends. It involves
the infusion of organizations with culture(s) consisting of artificial values and norms,
beyond the technical requirements of the task; and this in turn creates an opposition
between institutional elements, both internally and externally, and tasks.
Organizations seek legitimacy from their environment(s) in order to survive. They
actually seek stability, legitimacy, and survival, as opposed to efficiency. The
artificial need to promote efficiency undermines an organizations ceremonial
conformity and sacrifices its legitimacy.
DiMaggio and Powells institutional isomorphism refers to the organizational
tendency to conform and become more similar to other organization through
something like Banduras social modeling theory, as opposed to competing for
innovation and more efficient means. Dominant forms and practices emerge and
organizations become mutually aware of a normal way of designing their products,
and we call this homogenization. Isomorphism actually refers to a constraining
process that forces one unit in a population to resemble the other units that face the
same set of environmental conditions. Mergers and acquisitions are the inevitable
outcomes of institutional isomorphism and economic uncertainty; merger
professionals, i.e. investment bankers, lawyers, and corporate managers, seem to be
the only ones who benefit by their existence. And, companies have increasingly
equated growth with mergers rather than with market expansion, thus there has been
an increase in the number of merger professionals. Mergers have since come to be
viewed as a normal business strategy.
Since our most recent and evolved sociological understandings have honored
both the micro perspective of networks and the macro perspective of institutions, I
wish to critique the works of the next three authors with respect these types of
organizations. It seems as though leaders will find structural holes in networks so
that they may assume positions of leadership, thus making themselves heads and
evolving the networks into institutions. This is how our organizations grow up and
Anthropomorphism in Western Philosophy
The philosophical anthropomorphism of social systems (or organizations) can
be found in three important western texts: Platos Republic, Pauls 1 Corinthians 12:12
of the Bible, and Thomas Hobbes Leviathan. Currently we find it in Common Laws
conception of the corporate person. I wish to explain how these social systems,
described within the texts and the law, are manifestations of the will to power, as
Nietzsche described, for the purpose(s) of individual profit and growth.
In my bachelors thesis, I chose to write on corporate personhood specifically,
beginning with the corporation, working my way back to the alter ego theorists, and
then back even further to Hobbesian philosophy, in order to capture the essence of
these social systems and how we may control their behavior for legal purposes. After
reading Nietzsche, I do not feel that I went back far enough. My object is not to
control corporations, but to explain them and finally leam how we may either
function more efficiently within them, or function more efficiently without them.
Plato, as far as I know, is to blame for the anthropomorphism of social
systems. He began by drawing an analogy between the soul and the state. I wish to
critique his philosophy, move on to critique St Pauls description of the body of
Christ, write a more accurate summary of Hobbes Leviathan, and finish with an
analysis of the corporate person. You will notice progressively physiological models
develop through the course of these writers, of both the individual and the society. In
the spirit of Collinss work, let us become even more physiological and behavioral in
our understanding of each entity, as this is my primary objective.
Beginning with the Greek Gods and onto the Christian God, from systems of
government to corporations and soon other social institutions, humans have learned
to grow, by standing on the shoulders of others in order to climb higher than they
ever have. You are familiar with the painting on the famous cover of Hobbes
Leviathan. I would have advised the artist to give the peripheral individuals less
stature, to more accurately portray the inevitable exploitation and conflict.
Plato described the republic, supposedly the perfect state, as parallel to the
human soul. St Paul unified the Christian church, incorporating both Jews and
Greeks, as one body with many parts. And Thomas Hobbes described government in
general as taking the form of the physical human body. This same theoretical
approach to social analysis was later adopted by the alter ego theorists in Common
Law. These legal theorists founded corporate personhood. I believe that all of these
predecessors have anthropomorphized such social systems for their own goals of
profit, power, and growth.
Not only does the anthropomorphism of social structures presuppose that
some individuals may be more or less rational than others, and thus fall into such
hierarchy, it enforces this hierarchy upon them. When we project our understanding
of what it is to be human onto other analogous social phenomena, we divide the
comprising individuals and assign them to play the role of specific body parts for our
own purposes. And since most body parts are expendable, relative to their hosts, the
vital organs, the analogy sets us up to rank some humans as vital and others as
expendable. When we impose our will on another living thing, this thing becomes
expendable, and we deem ourselves vital at their expense.
[Plato, you were a head of us all. You created anthropomorphism. You
created States and God(s) in your own image. Everything around you is rational and
mathematical because you are. God will surely have a seat for you in the front row of
heaven, because God acts just like you, and is proudest of you, most rational of all his
creations. How convenient for you! Woe to those of us who picked a worse lot.]
I would like to critique the psychological and sociological principles found in
Platos Republic. In the spirit of the German Philosophers, namely, Feuerbach, Marx,
and Nietzsche, I wish to formulate a more material perspective, incorporating this
understanding with my behavioral and physiological viewpoint(s).
There is truth in Socrates statement: A State arises out of the needs of
mankind, (Plato, The Republic). We should add, however, that a State fulfills the
needs of the ruler, and not necessarily the needs of the peripheral citizens. All
synthetic social systems (such are God, government, and corporations) do arise from
the needs, wants, and absurd luxuries of mankind, but more so their rulers. As a State
grows, develops, and begins to govern itself, it necessarily takes on its own needs,
wants, and absurd luxuries which Socrates believes to be parallel to the needs of the
individual citizen. Thus, we may infer that Nations eventually emerge from the
repetition of this pattern in the synthesis of many States and their various
satisfactions. Inevitably some states (certainly only the wisest among them), or
combinations of states, will rule over others, and likewise with nations.
Since, by his limited nature, man is not self-sufficing, and is forced to share
his produce, trade, and/or service with the many, he is also forced into habitation and
civilization with them. They begin to exchange goods, for their own good. They take
on occupations for the mutual benefit of themselves and the society in which they
live. In response, more needs are created and more occupations. The State grows
naturally. It trades with other states when both opportune and self-satisfying. But in
order to trade at all, it must also satisfy the needs of these other states. Each state
then, by its nature, is also not self-sufficing, and is forced by necessity to share its
produce, trade, and/or service with the other states in the many other regions. Again,
we may infer that these states form Nations, which soon seek to do the same with
Citizens, in their dealings with each other and with their high regards for the
various luxuries, naturally stumble upon issues of justice and injustice. Initially,
Socrates prescribes for them a moderate consumption of staples and an abstinence
from most luxuries in order to align the material body with the soul; this is how the
citizen and the State are to remain fit in his view. But when Glaucon asks Socrates if
modem luxury is possible for the State, Socrates feels compelled to introduce war and
several new occupations which accompany the art of war. The State continues to
grow naturally as it wishes to satisfy needs.
Socrates has thus far not faltered in describing the needs of the citizen, the
State, and as inferred by us from his logic, the Nation. However, I begin to disagree
with him in his discussion of censorships. In his state, Socrates wishes for the
censorship of fictional literature that makes erroneous representation of the nature of
god and heroes. And to this I say, Look whos talking! Does any man deserve to
represent or describe a God or gods, if one or the many of them even exist? As an
empiricist, I might be partial to believe that most pagans are correct when they refer
to both death and God as great mysteries.
God is an invisible matter (to make a joke), and humans love to apply all they
know to these concepts. They do the same with the concept of love, and for the most
part equate the two god and love. Some people say they love each other when they
have really only either cared for one another for some amount of time, which is also
empirically evident in other species (for example, when primates pick lice out of each
others hair, and also when dogs will lick each others teeth and eyes in the morning),
or when they know of their genealogical ties. But these things only prove that
animals become invested in each others well being. They do not love one another in
this open sense of the term; some may even think that love has some form. But
hasnt this form changed each time the person has fallen in love.
As an empiricist and materialist, I believe that man may only describe heaven
and God like he would describe the monster in a scary story, nothing more than a
compilation of his most extravagant and supposedly infinite ideas. Those of us with
the wildest imaginations have the most to fear. And so, Socrates is half-right in
comparing the erroneous representations of God found in fictional literature with
portraits not having the shadow or a likeness to the original (Plato, p 63); only we
must further remove the idea of portraits, paints, and shadows in a realm of God or
heaven if such things exist. In fact, concerning this realm we must remove ideas in
their entirety, since the nervous system, a biological entity, which eventually fails and
ceases to be, is responsible for the existence of ideas. All ideas will eventually cease
to be, along with the machines that make and process them. Back to dirt!
In this realization, one should not take their ideas for granted and hopefully
not give way to fiction at all, since fiction leads one life in meaningless, impractical
circles (and sometimes to a sooner, more certain death or ruin, i.e., Socrates suicide).
Socrates himself goes on to admit that young persons cannot judge for themselves
which tales are allegorical and which are literal, and that anything that young persons
receive into their minds are likely to become unalterable. Thus, Socrates and I both
agree that it is important that tales for the youth express virtuous thoughts and
actions. I believe that we should leave out the myth of eternity and eternal life, so
that our youth may recognize the real permanence and scarring of their actions in a
limited, material world. Forgiveness cannot erase the scars.
Again, I find fault with Socrates when he attempts to describe HIS real God.
Supposedly, God is always to be represented as he truly is...(Plato, p 64), but not as
something or lack of he-ness or even thingness which might also manifest God-ness.
In fact, just like Socrates, and convenient for him indeed, God is a man concerned
with the good and advantageous, but not the evil and hurtful. HE is the author of all
good and ethical, and nothing else, just like Socrates. He cannot change or represent
falsehoods so as to deceive mankind.
...Deception, or being deceived or uninformed about the highest realities in the
highest parts of themselves... and in that part of them to have and to hold the lie, is
what mankind least like. (Plato, p 68)
The part of the quote where Socrates refers to this highest part as being the soul, has
been purposely left out, because my nervous system, my most vital organ for
consciousness, detests what I wish to call the lie of the soul. Consciousness, once it
recognizes itself as an emergence of the functioning of so many vital organs, will no
longer consider itself to have eternal life as a soul. It is concerned with pleasures and
pains only, such as the fiery flames of hell or the other painful hell that Socrates
describes in Book X or maybe the abundant pleasures that supposedly pour out of
heaven; but it cannot escape its own understandings of its environment, which it
learns from experience only, where experience has already followed instinct, and this
instinct itself had developed from generations of experience.
The anthropomorphic stumble begins here: when man begins to assume that if
there were a God, HE would have the same characteristics of man, so as to care about
or express empathy towards human necessity. Man prays to God as though he could
care, but nothing could be further from fact. If God had a hypothalamus (the seat for
emotion), we could see it; and since we cannot, I am inclined to believe that it does
not exist. So why should we tell tales about God, and try to relate to HIM, if God
does not share our features and functions? It does not make sense to me, and seems
to be a waste of time. Excellent relations with our fellow citizens seem more
realistically attainable than relations with God.
Next, we come to the noble lie. And I feel that I should center on this
problem since the conception of relative nobility is deceptive to the true value of any
living thing. An occupation may be nobler or less noble than another in its pursuit of
human needs, while less noble occupations may even be performed with more
nobility than more noble occupations; but no human being, regardless of how long
they have held any specific occupation, is any nobler than his fellow man or woman.
[The first part of the lie, where Plato introduces the dream, is absurd and a more
realistic rendition has been pondered in the Matrix trilogy (given advancements in
psychological behaviorism, artificial insemination techniques, and virtual reality, this
seems to me to be sadly realistic indeed). I wish to ignore this part since I do not
have it in my conscience to harvest people for my profit in the tyrannical spirit of
scientific management, nor to lie to them about their genealogy.]
The second part of the lie is most intriguing. Socrates wishes to inform HIS
citizens that they are framed differently by nature. Golden citizens instinctually
posses the power of command; silver citizens then behave as their auxiliaries; and
finally, the brass and iron citizens act as the husbandmen and craftsmen. None of
these citizens, regardless of their rank, shall have property or consume more than is
absolutely necessary. But, it will be both convenient and amusing to me when we
find that the needs of the lesser, yet higher ranked citizens are found to be greater
than the needs of the many lower ranked, citizens.
Socrates eventually includes himself among these higher ranked individuals in
Platos Apology, bringing to light both his audacity and his delusions of grandeur
during his defense in court, claiming that he, an outcast and deviant, deserved to eat
with those who were to be remembered and honored. In Book IV of the Republic
Socrates adds under his breath: even as they are, our guardians may very likely be
the happiest of men; but that our aim in founding the State was not the
disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole;
we thought that in a State which is ordered with a view to the good of the whole we
should be most likely to find justice, and in the ill-ordered State injustice.
Unfortunately, our aim will not suffice in the search for justice, specifically
distributive justice, viewed through the eyes of Socrates with his own scope and
As an act utilitarian, I am only concerned with just and unjust outcomes in our
dealings with one another. Dividing our citizens into visible ranks only hinders their
ability to grow from the outset. Only a man who would overthrow his friends,
whether philosopher, soldier, or businessman, will thrive in such ranked societies.
Such a man is a tyrant and a barbarian, no matter what occupation he holds. As a
salesman, he will forcibly put his foot in your door and give you his pen. As a
teacher, he will not allow your children creativity and wisdom; but, instead you must
memorize his traditional knowledge. His way is the right way, and you must follow
his path to righteousness.
The prejudice that Socrates inserts into HIS Republic occurs at the point of the
noble lie, but it becomes dangerous when he likens the ranks within the soul to the
ranks that we should deem natural in the State. His three part soul is not parallel to
the state like he believes. The idea of justice is one that should be shared between the
State and the citizen. We should not say that the idea of justice is parallel, but that the
State, in its service to the citizens must create justice for them. The misconceived
plurality of the idea of justice should rather be isolated and studied as one concept,
which serves the interests of real living things, and not the interests of the State.
Socrates believed that, in order for a man to be just, he must nurture a
harmony in his three part soul. Then he has to play his part in society, or rather mind
his own business, as one of the three parts which he possesses himself, in order to
nurture the harmony of the three part state. So, at once, man must host all three parts
of the soul, therefore making him an entire soul, and also act as one of these parts in
society, so as to defy his nature and become less than an entire soul. His conscience
will therefore be lessened. So, the Socratic individual is only partially just.
Every person should mind the various systems within their body as they are
subject to their own well-being and vitality. And, in a State, every individual must be
able to assume the position of guardian, and prove themselves to be vital to the
advancement of their own civilization. If each individual does not understand their
own allegiance to the well-being of the community, and also themselves, then this
may disrupt the decision-making process at large. Think like a games theorist. Do
what is best for both you and your community.
When a State celebrates rank, regardless of its poverty or wealth, it begins to
experience high levels of relative deprivation. People begin gossiping and comparing
themselves with one another. I could do better than this teacher or that boss, they
will say amongst themselves, and they will secretly hold discontent for all of their
neighbors and leaders, but more accurately their competitors. Bronze and Iron
mothers will leave their inadequate bronze and iron husbands after falling from rank.
They will have the State act as their father while they raise their own children to be
Golden, thus bringing the benefits of the State back into the family. Everyone wishes
to raise their standard of living.
So, each man, rather, must govern himself with wisdom and hold himself
accountable for his courage, temperance, and justness. As soon as we begin to
depend on each other for our specializations of the soul, i.e. training in the virtues,
we will inevitably find ruin, since the soul may not be divided, and in fact, does not
exist. We will never be filled by our soul specialists, but only taken from by these
sophists, by these others who seek to profit by our exploitation and demise, at the
expense of our reason.
Until Philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit
and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those
commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to
stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils, -no, nor the human race, as I
believe, -and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the
light of day. (Plato, p 166)
According to Socrates, only our elite individuals will have enough wisdom to govern
a state. They will have proven themselves through longer educational circuits in both
learning and gymnastics. The rest of us will be provided with reason by the elite,
despite our own curious faculties, and fall into place as governed faculties. Although
Socrates does not admit to his political ambitions, he has divided his State in such a
way as to grant himself a kingdom, in which reason (or rather, HIS reason) will rule.
Be careful of anyone who speaks to you in this way. To them, you are expendable.
Governments vary as the dispositions of men vary, and there must be as
many of the one as there are of the other, (Plato, p 235). This is obvious, since every
man governs differently, and only some are given the rank to do so. But, to suppose
that a leader would model his State after oak and rock, is to commit a reductio ad
absurdum. These things are stagnant, and no man models his livelihoods, i.e. his
work, education, and religion, after such things as stagnant rivers, rocks, or pieces of
wood, no matter how delusional he has become. His consciousness is firmly rooted
in his own material impermanence, and so he seeks to be productive and to live, but
never to be stagnant. Man desires to grow, not to shrink. He is organic.
Because man is organic, and should be held responsible for taking care of his
own organism, I agree with a later statement made by Socrates. Only I believe that
Socrates is both a hypocrite and a drone (though stingless) himself. I will quote the
argument for my reader, but I am leaving the bee and biological-human analogies in
place to better serve my concluding section:
..What is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is
the ruin of both?
... the class of idle spendthrifts, of whom the more courageous are the leaders and
the more timid the followers, the same whom we were comparing to drones, some
stingless, and others having stings.
These two classes are the plagues of every city in which they are generated, being
what phlegm and bile are to the body. And the good physician and law-giver of the
state ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them at a distance and prevent, if
possible, their ever coming in; and if they have anyhow found a way in, then he
should have them and their cells cut out as speedily as possible. (Plato, p 257)
Today, Socratic dialecticians work as sophist, corporate lawyers. These are the
drones with words for stingers, while the corporate executives do not have stingers
When humans adopt gluttony as a principle, i.e. when drones begin to rule and
feed at the expense of others, the workers starve and the State weakens as a whole. It
becomes unable to provide for itself, which is entirely contrary to its own purpose.
The individuals begin to form unhealthy eating habits. The workers starve in order to
gorge themselves, while the leaders just gorge themselves. Both habits are bad for
the digestive system. And when one part of the body suffers, eventually the rest of
the body suffers as well.
Socrates divides HIS soul into three principles, and each principle corresponds
with a pleasure, and also three desires and governing powers (Plato, p 274). Through
a first principle, man learns and gains knowledge; through the second principle, he
experiences his passions; and through the third principle, man discovers his sensual
appetites, and learns to love money as a means to that end. The just man, Socrates
claims, will be able to tune each of these principles into harmony, and the just State
will be governed by the just man.
If we were to extract the idea of the soul (since the idea of the soul was first
extracted from the body) from Socrates argument, we may still have something
useful to apply to our current physiological understanding of the human being. The
brain both learns and experiences passions (although we use to believe that passion
came from the heart). And in all actuality, the brain hungers for the sake of the
stomach and limbs, but they do not do hunger themselves. The stomach works for the
brain, the heart works for the brain, and the brain works for itself. Every organ in the
body works for the central nervous system. But this argument is not to downplay the
vitality of the heart, or the stomach. These organs are necessaiy for the survival of
the brain, and likewise a brain is necessary for their survival. So, later I must
compare these vital organs with expendable parts in my final deconstruction of
anthropomorphized social systems.
There is no soul, unless we are simply and materially referring to the harmony
of functioning systems within the physiological human body, and this body is neither
immortal nor imperishable. Corrupting this harmony in a living animal, purposely, is
what I claim to be evil. And this harmony can be corrupted by any kind of
physiologically or sociologically metaphorical severance of functioning systems.
Physiologically speaking, we may not remove (without replacement) the brain, heart,
stomach, or lungs, without destroying a harmony between these organs. They are
responsible for each others livelihoodss, but more properly each others existences.
In social metaphor, when one is not the brain they lack control, when one is not the
heart they lack courage, and so on. This is the story of the Scarecrow, the Cowardly
Lion, and the Tinman from the wizard of Oz.
But first, to conclude with the Socratic anthropomorphism of God, I must
cover book ten, since it venture into St Pauls territory. And then I must proceed with
my critiques of St. Paul, Thomas Hobbes, and the corporate person.
Socrates claims that God is the maker of all the works of all other workmen,
(Plato, p 289). The workman ranks second and the artist ranks third as types of
creators. God is perfect, the workman imitates God, and the artist imitates man. So,
God has one product which is the form, the workmen have many products which are
imitations of the form, and the artist imitates the imitations. According to Socrates,
these imitations are twice removed from their respective form(s). From this logic,
the artist is twice removed from God, relative to the workman who is once removed.
But I would never rank an artist below a philosopher myself, since most of my ideas
have been synthesized as I watch movies that relate to my topics, or while I entertain
certain works of art. I would assume that many paintings have also influenced
philosophers for centuries. Art and poetry are just different forms of communication
for different types of learning.
I strongly oppose ideas on Gods creation of formal wisdom, since the
environment holds so many uncertainties. And, as a behaviorist who takes social
modeling theory for granted, I would rather adopt the previous sociological concept
of institutional isomorphism. Some maker or innovator finds a beneficial way of
making his product and the others model after them, homogenizing their product. We
do this as philosophers when we create philosophical institutions, i.e. as Marxists,
Hegelians, Hobbesians, and so on.
St. Paul's One Body, Many Parts
Although not as practiced in the art of anthropomorphism, St Pauls short
work is probably much more influential than Platos entire Republic, even in respect
to such a topic. Using a similar dualism of spirit and flesh to the Socratic one, St Paul
created a spiritual body for Christ. This idea, although its objective is spiritual, seems
to be growingly physiological in its dialect. Notice the evolution of thought. After
Paul introduces the concept of spiritual gifts in I Corinthians, he anthropomorphizes
the church of Christ:
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are
many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one
Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given
the one Spirit to drink.. .If the foot should say Because I am not a hand, I do not
belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if
the ear should say, I am not an eye, 1 do not belong to the body, it would not for that
reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the
sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell
be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he
wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? ...The eye
cannot say to the hand, I dont need you! And the head cannot say to the feet, I
dont need you! On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are
indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special
honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while
our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members
of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there
should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for
each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every
part rejoices with it. (Zondervan, Holy Bible, pp 1306-7)
Here comes the catch...
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the
church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then
workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others,
those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles...prophets...teachers? Do all work miracles...have gifts of
healing... speak in tongues... interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
(Zondervan, Holy Bible, p 1307)
As you can see, the appointment has been ranked and compared with a body made of
both vital and expendable parts, some more or less vital or expendable than others.
People know better than this. They have their own feet, their own hands, and rule
over them by virtue of their own reason and will. To say that a body of people takes
the form of the human body is to hypostatize the term. This fallacious reasoning
holds the obvious motive of profit and power. The few will rule as the profit driven
vital organs and the expendable parts will suffer at their expense.
To reconsider Pauls notion that the human bodys parts are equally dependent
on each other, I will need to conduct a thought experiment influenced by the recent
SA W movies which will help me portray this point. Some human parts are vital, and
most are not. If a human was to be given a choice, whether they would spare a vital
organ or some appendage, they will most likely go with the latter.
So, say you have been kidnapped by a deranged serial killer, as most killers
probably are. They have given you the choice whether you would rather lose your
eyeball or have part of your spinal column removed. You choose your eyeball
because you know you may be able to leave or escape afterwards, but you know that
you will not if you lose a piece of your spinal column. In fact you would die.
Without making grandiose claims to eternal life, you know that you have a biological
life and you are secure with this. For these reasons, you choose to lose your eyeball,
but you still live. Unless there is more at stake, I believe that most people would
make the same decision.
Anthropomorphized social systems governed by human beings will make a
similar choice. In times of economic and environmental uncertainty, these systems
will protect their vital organs when the choice is necessary. In fact, most body parts
serve to protect vital organs anyways; this is their function. In practical terms,
shareholders, leaders, and ministers take care of themselves like a nervous system,
while their respective employees, citizens, and churches are responsible for taking
care of the vital members at their own expense, like expendable limbs.
And, just as expected, St Paul asks for money seven chapters later in The
Collection for Gods People even though he had initially downplayed his need in
The Rights of an Apostle. So first he downplays his need for money to get his foot
in the door; second, designs a metaphor for his own purpose; and third, asks for the
cash, even threatening to make collections if Gods people do not put their money
aside. (Zondervan, pp 1303 & 1311)
In leaving behind the notion of a soul as the perfect reflection of natural
human bodies, we move towards a more physiological and behavioral, yet still
spiritually-delusional, Thomas Hobbes.
Thomas Hobbes Leviathan
In his work Leviathan, Hobbes describes both man and the commonwealth as
machine-like organisms. Their lives are nothing more than the motion of their limbs.
The first part of Hobbes text explains the workings of the organic, material man and
the emergence of the commonwealth, while the second part focuses on the organic
workings of the commonwealth, and its various forms. I have chosen to ignore the
second half of the book for this essay, although I may find relevance later.
Man as Machine
Hobbes lists the vital motions of man as the course of the blood, the pulse,
the breathing, the digestion, nutrition, excretion, etc., and also the voluntary motions,
to go, to speak, to move any of our limbs in such manner as is first fancied in our
minds, (Hobbes, p 33). But, although I disagree with this notion of in our minds,
in the spirit of behaviorism, Hobbes claims that man endeavors towards the
satisfaction of his desires, i.e. hunger and thirst, and he endeavors away from his
aversions. Those objects which satisfy his appetites are termed good, and those
which cause him aversion are termed evil. He considers good things to be profitable
and evil things to be unprofitable, just as I or any act-utilitarian philosopher would.
Pleasure is the sense of profitable and good, while displeasure is the sense of
unprofitable and evil. We love what we desire, and hate what is aversive to us.
Hope is the opinion that our appetites can and will be satisfied, while despair
is the lack of this opinion. Fear is the opinion that an object will hurt us or cause us
aversion. And fear of an invisible power, whether feigned by the mind or imagined
from publicly allowed tales, is termed religion. The tales which are not publicly
allowed are termed superstition (Hobbes, pp 33-37). Hobbes holds that legislators
should possess responsibility for deciding which tales are deemed religions and which
are superstitions. So, I have made it my goal to combine religion and superstition
into one same category. All invisible powers should be seen as superstitions and
illusions; this is to include both the perfect archetypes of human beings and states.
During our deliberation phase, we must erase these archetypes.
When in the mind of man, appetites, and aversions, hopes, and fears, concerning one
and the same thing, arise alternately; and diverse good and evil consequences of the
doing, or omitting the thing propounded, come successively into our thoughts; so
that sometimes we have an appetite to it; sometimes an aversion from it; sometimes
hope to be able to do it; sometimes despair, or fear to attempt it; the whole sum of
desires, aversions, hopes and fears, continued till the thing be either done, or thought
impossible, is that we call DELIBERATION. (Hobbes, p 39)
Deliberation is voluntary. It separates operant conditioning from classical
conditioning, but not exclusively. Both man and beast calculate what is more or less
beneficial to their own nature(s). They both have wills; where a will is nothing but
the last appetite or aversion remaining in deliberation. Both man and beast
understand imperatives such that do this, forbear that whether subject to counsel,
command, or prayer (Hobbes, p 39-41). Otherwise we would not be able to train our
animals, and in fact, we would not be able to train people through scientific
management. We can do these things.
Hobbes defines power as mans present means for obtaining some future
apparent good. Natural power (i.e. strength, form, prudence, arts, eloquence,
liberality, nobility) generates from the faculties of the body. Man acquires
instrumental power (i.e. riches, reputation, friends, and the secret working of God)
through the use of his natural powers or buys it at a price. It is mans nature to obtain
more power, so that he may in turn obtain goods, profit. Hobbes professes (and
The greatest of human powers, is that which is compounded of the powers of most
men, united by some consent, in one person, natural, or civil, that has the use of all
their powers depending on his will; such as is the power of a commonwealth; or
depending on the wills of each particular, such as is the power of a faction or of
diverse factions leagued. Therefore to have servants, is power; to have friends, is
power: for they are strengths united. (Hobbes, p 58)
Naturally, when man is liberal with his riches, he is likely to make more friends and
servants; and if a rich man lacks liberality, the people will envy him. But, every man
desires to preserve his own liberty, and to acquire dominion of others. These desires
are dictated by an impulse to self-preservation. Ultimately, man allows others to put
restraint on him in order to better serve these desires. Hobbes even explains how
power ultimately generates and/or degenerates through mans various social actions,
though I do not cover it.
Men are generally built/created equal with respect to both their bodily
strengths and faculties of the mind. Even more so, each man experiences himself (his
own wisdom) firsthand, while he experiences others at a distance. And since the
other mans wisdom is always further away, it will naturally appear smaller to him.
Therefore men are grieved by each others lack of wisdom, when they are forced to
keep company with each other. Every man expects his company to value him at the
same rate he values himself, but it is impossible since each man values himself so
highly (Hobbes, pp 82-83)
According to Hobbes, for either justice or injustice to occur, a coercive power
must be set in place which compels men equally to perform their pacts; but more
importantly, the fear of punishment from this power must be greater than the benefit
expected from the breaking of a pact. This power emerges first out of a
commonwealth. Justice is the constant will of giving to every man his own. And
since outside of a commonwealth there is no own, injustice cannot exist. The validity
of pacts begins with the constitution of a civil power that is sufficient enough to
compel men to keep them; propriety begins here also (Hobbes, p 96).
Distributive justice, Hobbes defines as the distribution of equal benefit to
men of equal merit. When a number of parties enter into a pact, they collectively
measure just value. And in times of dispute, the arbitrator is responsible for
distributing justice and the parties must submit their rights to his judgment (Hobbes, p
100). The arbitrator must be conscientious that eveiy man is equal by nature and that
he should always deal equally between them. No man is fit to be arbitrator or judge
in his own cause because every man behaves for his own benefit. And for this same
reason, arbitrators cannot be partial to either partys cause (Hobbes, pp 102-104).
A PERSON, is he, whose words or actions are considered, either as his own, or as
representing the words of another man, or of any other thing to whom they are
attributed, whether truly or by fiction. (Hobbes, p 106)
When a man speaks his own words, he is deemed a natural person; but when he
speaks another mans words, he is an artificial person. Artificial persons sometimes
have their words and actions owned by an author, who grants authority to an actor
that represents him. Authority cannot be given to inanimate objects, children, fools,
or madmen, nor can it be given to false gods; but all of these have been granted
personhood in their various ways, and Hobbes goes onto include the three part trinity
as naturally accepting of this analogy also (Hobbes, pp 107-109)
One person emerges from a multitude of men when this multitude is
represented by one man. The representative brings unity to the multitude, because
otherwise unity cannot be understood in multitude. They are the many authors of
both their representatives words and actions. Each man gives his own authority to
the common representative (Hobbes, p 109). And when a multitude is so united, we
call it a commonwealth.
Men ultimately agree on the erection of a commonwealth for their own
security and self-interest. (Hobbes, pill) The only way for men to erect this
common power is to confer all of their power on one representative, or upon one
assembly, that reduces its will unto one will. This is to appoint one man or assembly
of men to bear their person. Each man shall say:
I authorize and give up my right of governing myself, to this man, or to this
assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy right to him, and authorize
all his actions in like manner. (Hobbes, p 114)
When each man says this, the multitude will unite in one person as a commonwealth,
which Hobbes calls the Leviathan, and also the Mortal God. With this authority,
the representative will have so much power and strength conferred upon him, that
through fear of punishment, he will be able to conform the wills of the people for the
purpose of creating peace at home. Thus, Hobbes defines a commonwealth as
one person, of whose acts a great multitude, by mutual covenants one with another,
have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use the strength and
means of them all, as he shall think expedient, for their peace and common defence.
(Hobbes, p 114)
When a multitude of men agree to give the right to present the person of
them all to some representative, their commonwealth becomes an institution
(Hobbes, p 115). Although Plato named five different forms of government, Hobbes
considers two of the forms redundant. If one were to use Nietzsches concepts of
master and slave morality as lenses for viewing different forms of government
(although Hobbes lived before Nietzsche), you will find that monarchy is labeled
tyranny by the slave, and aristocracy is labeled oligarchy. According to Hobbes,
these forms of government are just one and the same. (Hobbes, p 123)
Hobbes explains the parts of a commonwealth as resembling the similar parts,
systems, or muscles of a natural body. He defines systems as any number of men
joined in one interest, or one business (Hobbes, p 148). A commonwealth receives
its nutrition from the distribution of materials conducing to human life, and we call
this distribution propriety (Hobbes, pp 163-164). And Hobbes believes that our
circulatory system is best represented by the circulation of money within a
By the means of which measures all commodities, movable and immovable, are
made to accompany a man to all places of his resort, within and without the place of
his ordinary residence; and the same passeth from man to man, within the
commonwealth; and goes round about, nourishing (as it passeth) every part thereof;
in so much as this concoction, is as it were the sanguification of the commonwealth:
for natural blood is in like manner made of the fruits of the earth; and circulating,
nourisheth by the way every member of the body of man. (Hobbes, p 167)
The value of currency cannot be altered by one man, or by a few commonwealths,
because it is a common measure of the commodities in all places. Currency gives a
commonwealth the power to move, and stretch out its arms into other lands for trade.
And the conduits for giving and receiving blood within the body are on the one hand
like the collectors and treasurers, and on the other, like the public payment officers
and treasurers again. In this way, the artificial man (the commonwealth) maintains
resemblance with the natural man, whose veins receive blood from the several parts
of the body and carry it to the heart, where it becomes vital, and the heart, by way of
the arteries, sends it back out, to enliven, and enable for motion all the members of
the body (Hobbes, p 167-168).
Concerning the infirmities of a commonwealth, Hobbes likens excessive
greatness, manifested by a multitude of corporations, to many lesser
commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural
man. (And on that note I would like to next discuss the corporate entity.) Also, any
commonwealth that consists of multiple representatives and represents a form of
mixed government will be like a Siamese twin, triplet, or so on. We may even want
to liken this now with multiple personality disorder because it forces mans actions to
be debilitated by the division within his own mind. According to Hobbes, the law is
the public conscience, so it must be uniform and concentrated. (Hobbes, pp 212-221)
Since I chose to ignore the Christian Commonwealth for now, although it may
hold interesting clues to Hobbes motivations and understandings of human nature, I
now move onto the corporate person. Through the use of corporations, people have
taken advantage of the anthropomorphism of social systems in order to exploit their
workers, our land, and ultimately avoid legal battles. Was Hobbes onto something
with his fear of excessive greatness in a commonwealth, specifically when it was
manifested by a multitude of corporations; does Corporate America have worms?
The Corporate Entity
We discuss the concepts of self and identity in both the behavioral and social
sciences. For example, a branch of psychology studies organizational behavior and
how the individual interacts at work, while sociology looks at the organization as a
group and how it might react to these individuals. Social psychology provides a
framework for looking at both subjects together. It looks at their relationships to each
other, whether they are evolving or not, whether they are structured or functional, etc.
However, a monster has arisen in academia, which, if I may be permitted to use the
term, I will call psycho-sociology for now. Because of the overlap and
interdisciplinary nature of these fields of study, we can recognize a pattern which
makes it possible to analyze two kinds of systemsnamely humans and human
organizationsanalogously. Whereas social psychology studies the individual
within the group, this psycho-sociology studies the group as an individual, with
institutionalized norms and generalized ways of thinking and acting towards other
groups. And, since corporations are legally considered persons for certain purposes, I
believe them to be perfect subjects for such a field of study.
A corporation is a legal entity, separate from, but acting through, its principals
and agents. It is distinct in having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities, and is
qualitatively (though not quantitatively) separate from the members constituting it. A
corporation enjoys many of the rights and obligations of individual citizens, such as
the abilities to own property, to sign binding contracts, pay taxes, to have certain
constitutional rights, and to participate in society (but in most jurisdictions,
corporations do not possess the right to vote). These resemblances between actual
persons and corporations give rise to the terms artificial personhood, and corporate
personhood. Corporate personhood implies, among other things, the idea that
corporations have constitutional rights, just like real, natural persons.
Joel Bakans Corporation explains to us both the inner and outer workings of
the corporate person. This person is a legal phenomenon we have created, which
carries its own implications for self and identity. The individual has an immediate
relationship with both society and the environment, where each of the three forces
(i.e., individual, society, and environment) may either cooperate and/or conflict with
each others wills. Within the corporate person, we may try and compare each
individuals role, as the social psychologist George Herbert Mead would, with an
organ. In this way, each organ is partially responsible for the overall functioning of
the organization. And in this anthropomorphic type of society, where the individual
acts as a legal, moral agent and at the same time subjects himselfTherself to a greater
legal moral agent, what can we say about the social implications for self and identity?
To be defined as a corporate person under U.S. Law, a body of people files
articles of incorporation with the state government, laying out its general nature, the
amount of stock it is authorized to issue, and the names and addresses of its directors
and officers. When the articles are approved, the directors meet to create bylaws for
the internal functions of their business, which covers meeting procedures and officer
positions. Corporate laws require that corporations be structured into classes of
superiors who are subordinated within a centralized pyramidal structure: chairman,
directors, chief executive officer, vice presidents, division managers, etc. The laws of
the state of incorporation regulate most of the corporations internal activities and
The legal fact of corporate personhood is argued in terms of precedent found
in Common Law. A few United States and United Nations provide will us with an
understanding of corporate identity before the dynamics found within the corporation
can be explained. In other words, Common Law as the context in which corporations
find themselves may have implications for corporate behavior at the macro level as
well as the micro level.
The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in
the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these
corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does. (Santa Clara County v. Southern
Pacific Railroad Company, 118, U.S. 394, 1886)
Chief Justice Waite
A company may in many ways be likened to a human body. It has a brain and nerve
centre which controls what it does. It also has hands which hold the tools and act in
accordance with directions from the centre. Some of the people in the company are
mere servants and agents who are nothing more than hands to do the work and
cannot be said to represent the mind or will. Others are directors or managers who
represent the directing mind and will of the company, and control what it does. The
state of mind of these managers is the state of mind of the company and is treated by
the law as such. So you will find that in cases where the law requires personal fault
as a condition of liability in tort, the fault of the manager will be the personal fault of
the company...So also in the criminal law, in the cases where the law requires a
guilty mind as a condition of a criminal offence, the guilty mind of the directors or
the managers will render the company itself guilty... Whether in any particular case
there is evidence to go to a jury that the criminal act of an agent, including his state
of mind, intention, knowledge or belief is the act of the company... must depend on
die nature of the charge, the relative position of the officer or agent, and the other
relevant facts and circumstances of the case. (H.L. Bolton Engineering Co. Ltd. V.
T.J. Graham & Sons Ltd., 1956)
The corporation lives by virtue of legal and social fact. Whether we see the
reasoning as counterintuitive or not makes no difference. Sociologists rightly
consider churches to be social institutions whether I believe in God or not; likewise
the law is also magnified as fact under a sociological lens. However, this is not to say
that corporations will always be persons. Indeed, laws have changed, evolved, and/or
developed in the past. But in order to change this specific law, we will have to set
forth a new identity which may transfer between disciplines, and be convincing in the
face of a long history in Common Law.
History of Corporate Dominance
Corporations have the capacity to combine the capital, and thus economic
power, of unlimited numbers of people (so, later I will make the comparisons of ideas
on capital to Marx, and those on power to Nietzsche). They took over partnerships as
the dominant form of business over 150 years ago (Bakan, p 8-9). Just over 100 years
ago, corporations themselves became capable of owning stock in other corporations,
and thus mergers and acquisitions became popular, giving rise to an era of corporate
capitalism. Shareholders eventually became too broadly dispersed to act collectively
when their numbers increased to combinations of thousands, and even hundreds of
thousands of different people. Eventually scholars, with the motive of assigning the
corporations legal rights and duties to a someone, defined the corporation itself as a
person (Bakan, p 13-15).
During the 1890s, the states of New Jersey and Delaware began ridding their
corporate laws of unpopular restrictions including those pertaining to the control of
mergers and acquisitions, and specifically the rule that one company could not own
stock in another. A number of states, in the spirit of competition, followed this
example (Bakan, p 13-17).
A corporation is legally the property of its stockholders. Therefore, the
interests of the corporation are the interests of its stockholders. There is but one
social responsibility for corporate executives: they must make as much money as
possible for their stockholders. The money goes to the top. Milton Friedmans most
popular article title reads: The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its
Profits. This is, legally, a corporations duty. In contrast, executives who choose
democratic and environmental goals over profits act illegally and contrary to the
corporations fiduciary duty (Bakan, p 34). This is where I begin to wonder if
corporations rationally compute their own effect on the planet, since they seem to
pursue only their immediate self intereststhe difference between a psychopath and
a sociopath lies in whether one hurts themselves or others.
The corporation is an institution, probably the worlds most dominant
economic institution, with a unique structure and set of imperatives that direct the
actions of people within it; it is specifically a legal institution because its capacity to
operate and indeed its very existence both depend on the law. The law mandates that
a corporation pursues its own self-interest. It does so by increasingly dictating the
decisions of its supposed overseers in government and controlling certain domains of
society once embedded within the public sphere (Bakan, pp 1-5); and this seems to
prove that corporations seek self-preservation.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporations are created by law and designated a purpose by law as well.
Common Lawpracticed in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia,
and New Zealand (with some exceptions)dictates that directors and managers
prioritize the interests of their companies and shareholders above all others (Bakan, p
35). This priority has come to be known as the best interests of the coiporation
principle. The law forbids any other motivation for their actions, whether to assist
workers, improve the environment, or help consumers save money (however, citizens
are free to do as they please with their own private money). Corporations, on the
other hand, are stewards of other peoples money, and have no legal authority to
pursue these goals as ends in themselves, but only as means to serve the corporations
own interests, the main one of which is to maximize the wealth of its shareholders.
Corporations are protected by a law that drives market economy, a business must
make money, because otherwise it would cease to exist (Bakan, p 36).
Like a real legal person, a corporation conducts business in its own name,
acquires assets, employs workers, pays taxes, and goes to court to assert its rights and
defend its actions. Corporations are considered to be natural entities analogous to
human beings, and are thus also protected by the Fourteenth amendments rights,
originally entrenched in the Constitution to protect freed slaves. By in large, society
views corporations as amoral leviathans (Bakan, pp 16-17). Originally, providing
them with limited liability was meant to end class-conflict by expanding the pool of
potential investors; however, it has also allowed investors to undermine personal
moral responsibility by helping them escape from the consequences of their
companies failure(s) (Bakan, p 12).
Legally, corporations must pursue profit, even at the expense of the
environment, but not contrary to other laws (Bakan, p 41). So, when corporations
destroy lives, damage communities, and endanger the planet as a whole, they choose
to do so vicariously, through such things as environmental waste, destroying natural
habitats, exploitation of persons, etc. We use the economic term externality when
referring to the effect of a transaction on a third party who has not consented to or
played any role in the carrying out of that transaction (Bakan, p 60-61). And
corporations do in fact profit at the expense of the other people in society (Bakan, p
70). On the other hand, some may argue that corporations create jobs and roles for
human beings in societies; nevertheless others will argue that they take some jobs and
roles away in the creation of those that are in their interest (p 61). Soon, we will
discuss how corporations serve as an outlet for power and growth for the constituting
Corporations appeal to human beings by branding themselves, creating
unique and attractive personalities for the sake of communicating and advertising.
We see and hear these personalities on the television and radio, and make friends with
them when they represent themselves publicly (Bakan, p 26). In turn, corporations
influence people and their culture(s). They influence what people eat, how and where
they work, etc. and overall, how they behave in their daily lives while playing their
various social and economic roles (Bakan, p 5). Social psychologists believe these
corporate actions to be manifestations of corporate personality and identity. And
further, the corporation may be acting this way in order to preserve itself amongst its
Groundwork for Corporate Species-Being
The corporation is in a sense programmed to exploit others for profit. As a
result, people often work in dehumanizing conditions, exploited for the purposes of
the much larger organization (Bakan, p 69). In turn, such individuals are often
encouraged to compartmentalize their lives. They are often pressured by the
corporate culture to disassociate themselves from their own values, and separate
themselves from their natural sense of empathy with other human beings, and alienate
themselves from the human condition generally (Bakan, pp 55-56). These values are
centered in what Marx termed species-being. As a species-being, mans life is an
object for him, and through this understanding his fellow man can be understood also
as a subject; this conscious life activity directly distinguishes him from the animal.
Marx would believe that the corporation alienates workers from their species-being,
and mans free activity is lowered to a means of existence. But what about the
corporations species-being...May we philosophers ask, Does the corporation have
its own species-being? George Herbert Meads work on the self may set the
groundwork for such a thought as this. Here we will go through the thought
experiment. In the first step, we have the upright, individually behaving entity, and
we call it a human being. We do not include animals (in this paradigm), plants, or
any machines that have undergone synthetic construction, as having species-being.
Mead believes that human beings can easily distinguish between the self and
the body. Bodily experiences and sensations are organized for the self. As humans,
we can lose body parts without any serious invasion to the self (although most
disabled persons would disagree entirely, namely Robert F. Murphy, a social theorist
on the topic of identity who was paralyzed during his academic career). The body
does not experience itself as a whole, but the self is capable of observing itself in
some waysMead refers to this strictly human characteristic as reflexivity (Mead, p
136). Humans can play the parts of both subjects and objects in their relation to the
world, as Marx would agree.
Following in the traditional view of Hegel, Mead claims that the individual
indirectly experiences himself as an individual from the particular standpoints of
other individual members of the same social group, and eventually a more
generalized standpoint of this social group as a whole. The individual becomes an
object to himself, just as the others in the group are already objects to him. And all of
these human objects use language between themselves to satisfy their instinctual,
Thus, at the end of step one, we may say that humans are naturally, social
beings, for they depend on each other to satisfy their individual physiological needs,
and language would otherwise disappear if humans did not depend on each other for
such a purpose (Mead, pi38-139, and footnote a). Recently, language has been
disappearing at fast-food drive-ins as comedian Jim Gaffigan has observed: now, we
just shout numbers at each other. Even, the words on our register keypads have been
replaced with icons/images (some consider this to be a symbolic form of
communication, as I will agree, but the language has been lost). So, may we say that
the physiological drives are more important than the need for communication? I
would say so. Language is only necessary for the mutual satisfaction of physiological
In step two, Mead takes us further, claiming that the social process itself is
responsible for the appearance of the self. Utilizing his concept of the generalized-
other, he explains how the self internalizes the social process and directs its own
behavior accordingly, with respect to the others who help constitute the whole
(Mead, pp 155-156). Individuals thus become organic members of society, taking
over the morale of their societies and becoming essential members, or parts we can
say, but still self-conscious parts. And so we may also say that each self-conscious
part has a personality, but not necessarily of its own. This may be compared with
Hegels idea of the master and slave relationship. As opposed to the stoic way of
perceiving the slave as dependent on the master, we also see the master as dependent
on the slave. Recognition must be equally credible for both parties. In this case the
slave, or corporate worker, becomes credible through his work imposed on the world
and is thus credible for recognizing the shareholder, or corporate person, as master.
So, for my own purposes, I might have wanted to stop here and assume that
many personalities cannot synthesize in such a way as to create one personality, but I
feel that Mead would disagree and equate this synthesized personality with what he
calls the generalized other. Hence, we should entertain the topic further and see if
corporations are logically, from what Mead has claimed, able to develop their own
personalities, and see if this idea carries with it a much larger version of species-being
than Marx had probably hoped for. Soon, we will have to ask the question: Do
corporations generalize themselves with other corporations?; but first we will have
to prove that they are entities carrying their own objectives, and behaving with
regards to these objectives (that is, psychologically, sociologically and
metaphysically speaking, and not necessarily legally yet).
In a third step, we take what we know and we put it all together. First, we
found that the self can only emerge from a social process, which implies the pre-
existence of a group prior to the individual personality. Second, we have said that
these individual personalities co-operate in activities, such as language at the most
basic level, and this implies that they interact in other structured activitiesall of this
on behalf of their organization. So we may now view these individual personalities
as essential organs to their social organization; and to this organization they owe
their very existence and individual consciousnesses, since without it, they themselves
could not have emerged (Mead, p 164-165).
As a materialist philosopher, however, I have problems with saying that an
organ can be conscious. But Mead recognizes that we as humans reform the order of
things (as we have seen with corporate law), since we are not simply bound by the
community, but we are engaged in a conversation with it. So, in order to carry the
idea of corporate personhood further, we could compare this level of communication
with that of die neurotransmitters, which intercommunicate the bodys messages of
pain and pleasure, life and death, and help it advance, i.e., in both development and
evolution. Once again, Meads philosophy carries us further with his idea of the
social act, but I feel that Blumer, a later researcher and founder of symbolic
interactionism, explains it better for our purposes.
In a fourth step, we come to acknowledge joint action, already having
discovered joint purpose in the idea of the generalized other, as Blumer also sets forth
the idea of common values (analogous to joint purpose) which supports this.
Individuals align their actions with one another. First they interpret each others
actions; then they indicate to others how they should act. A joint action is usually
planned in advance by individuals who make a common, or generalized identification
with it. This adds to the regularity and stability of joint action. Joint actions may
exist as collaborations of two people or they can span into huge organizations and
institutions. Each participant occupies a different position, again relative to the other
participant(s), and engages in acts relative to each of these factors. So, it may be
possible, that analogous to the organs within the human body and the various systems
they make up, individuals fit together their acts in such a way as to constitute a joint
action for something greater. (Blumer, pp 70-72).
But, as was expected, Blumer agrees that roles are fashioned for the needs of
people (Blumer, p 75). So, can we argue that corporations have to deal with their
own environmental pressures, which may in turn influence role construction as well?
Or should I say, can a corporation develop to withstand environmental pressures?
The answer is yes.. .but only for the needs of the people, as Blumer would agree.
However, does not each person also take care of their own individual organs,
especially those that are vital to their existence? It seems as though Meads argument
for social pre-existence could counter our problem well. The individual is
responsible for his/her own organs, while the organs are also responsible for the entire
make-up or emergence of the individual. And likewise, a corporation is responsible
for the individuals whose needs give it existence, just as the individuals are
responsible for the corporations profits and externalities.
So, now that we recognize corporations as their own entity, we musk ask
ourselves if they can be self-conscious. Marx provides an argument for our fifth step
and leads us to believe that they may indeed have their own species-being. The
fourth steps purpose was to establish that a corporation can have the same first step
as the human entity, proving that it is conscious. So the purpose of the fifth step is to
prove that it is self-conscious, via other persons and corporations. Legally, human
beings have declared it a social fact, so it is by virtue of real human persons. But is it
conscious of other corporations? The answer is yes, because they settle on prices
with each other, while both chaining themselves from and at the same time striving
towards monopolies, towards power. Marx elaborated this idea in his works Wage-
Labour and Capital, which will be brought up in the section on Corporate Profit
Maximization; but he also gives to us the idea of a self-conscious, Corporate Species
Being, which we turn to first.
Corporate Species-Being, Profit Maximization and the Will to Power
Man is a species-being not only in that practically and theoretically he makes both
his own and other species into his objects, but also...he relates himself as to the
present, living species, in that he relates to himself as universal and therefore free
being. (McLellan, D. 1977. Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 2nd ed: Alienated
Labour, p 89)
What can we say to this, that corporations are not a species? If Marx
would grant my argument as analogous, even as a materialist (which I profess
to be), they are indeed a species of some sort. For the first example,
corporations make people into their objects as organs of an organization.
They use animals to create products for profit as we see with various fashion
items, etc. They even waste animal life, via externalities, for their own more
synthetic products. And for the second example, corporations are conscious
of each others business affairs. They must compete just like normal beings,
for profit, and for power.
Marxs purely theoretical explanation of species-being justifies why
the corporate person may be considered a capitalist itself. The corporation
exploits the worker through the circulation of capital. It banks on surplus-
value. First the corporation obtains the means of production legally and
contractually. Second, the worker sells his labor to the corporation as a
commodity for a wage. And finally, the corporation sells the product of the
labor for more money than (1) the sum of the labor, (2) its own corporate self-
sufficiency (which may be the same thing), and (3) its growth combined with
these (McLellan, D. 1977. Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 2nd ed.: Wage-
Labour and Capital & The Economics 1857-1867: The General Formula for
Capital). We may find this behavior related to the pursuit of power that
Nietzsche claims. As a result, corporations have come to develop perpetual
lifetime(s), living beyond the employees which constitute them.
The corporation grows, via will to power, so that it may impose its will on
others: more corporate profits circulate with more corporate power. The corporation
wants to be master over others. This includes other institutions (as was said before),
and especially other human beings, which constitute the organs. It wants them to be
its slaves (Nietzsche, F. W.1886. Beyond Good & Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of
the Future. Translated by Kaufmann, W. Vintage: New York). And so, you may
slave as an organ to the corporate species. You may be a foot, a face, or at most have
some presence in the nervous system, which gathers, processes, and possesses all
perceptions of profit and power for itself, but all in all, you are no more than a slave
yourselfto the greater pursuit of profit and power!
Philosophical Pyramid Schemes
At this point I would like to introduce the idea of philosophical pyramid
schemes. These schemes occur when two separate roles in a group benefit from the
creation or exploitation of a third role. The entire scheme faces top-down, so that the
primary role benefits most at the expense of the auxiliary roles, and likewise the
secondary roles benefit more than their auxiliary roles. The secondary role is
provided with enough benefits to support the primary role, but not enough to
overthrow the primary role, and likewise the third role holds this same relation to the
secondary role. In true tyranny, neither the secondary role, nor the third role, nor the
combination of both, will ever be able to overthrow the primary role.
In a tyranny, the primary role becomes primary ruler by taking advantage of
the structural holes that he or she has been afforded. The primary ruler alienates the
secondary role from the third role so that they form a weak bond, and thus their
ability to overthrow is weakened. The primary ruler controls both parties by keeping
them separate. The ruler might create images for each party, one of the other and vice
versa, so that the parties are at odds with one another, just enough to weaken and
preoccupy them. And during these periods of preoccupation, where the secondary
and third parties are at war with one another, and are therefore weak, they will
naturally seek comfort in the arms of an arbitrator, their primary ruler, who further
benefits from the scenario by profiting, growing, and gaining power by their
exploitation. For example, law enforcement seeks to correct certain unlawful
behaviors, while the oppressed masses seek to express their freedoms and liberties.
The leaders naturally benefit from the battles that emerge. They are Caesars,
arrogantly staring over the masses, while directing the battle in the lions den. They
own the market, the church, the government, and they feel that they might as well
own man, and his very existence.
As I believe that the anthropomorphism of social systems represents an
outwardly spiraling reification circle, let me conduct a thought experiment, influenced
by a television episode of The Office. Say we were to play a game by some primary
persons request. This primary person wishes to observe our communication with
each other, while wearing flashcards on our foreheads of the primary persons design.
Little do we know, at first, the card on our own forehead represents a derogatory
assault on someone elses personhood. Therefore, we go about mingling, laughing at
the expense of others aristocratically, until finally we come across a symbol that
disgraces our own being or personhood. Since we have forgotten that we are playing
a game, and we have personalized the messages on our foreheads by this time, we
begin to fight with each other. Amongst our quarreling, and in our defense, we forget
that the primary person, along with their audacity and arrogance, are initially
responsible for the whole display. To this, I ask: How many of us must take it
personal before we turn back on the primary? We have been divided, not unified.
We are unified in the primary rulers mind, and in our own display of their power, but
we are divided amongst each other.
Bravo for Nietzsche! We are not like sheep or cattle anymore, who cling to
the herd, afraid to grow. Instead we are house dogs, who hover over the food dish
and growl at each other in light of the pecking order. For our masters we will jump
through hoops, speak, and roll over for food. But all of this is for display. None of
these behaviors are natural for the dog. Hunger is natural for the dog. And so the dog
must do these things in order to please the master, in order to eat. Naturally, the dog
must hunt, but unfortunately for his personal growth he has been housebroken; as
We need to eliminate the pecking order. It disgusts me to see parade after
parade, vote after vote, and war after war for these popularity contests, nothing more.
Our instinct for rank should rather be focused on natural selection for the
development of our species, instead of meaningless contests in an eternal, beauty
pageant. We must learn to grow with each other, instead of at the expense of each
According to the anthropomorphic analogy, in calling some citizens vital and
others appendages, this is where I would part with Nietzsche, Paul, Plato, and
Hobbes. I do not rank living things. I believe that mutual respect for life is necessary
for a well-functioning state. We must not consider some individuals vital and others
expendable. The saying goes: Who are we to judge?
By uncovering the present ideology, citizens should be able to freely, and
hopefully, unselfishly compete in the present environment with a necessary, legal
understanding of their current socio-economic situation so that they may eventually
focus on leveling out the playing field. I would hope that someday, Robin Hood
philosophies in distributive justice such as egalitarianism will not be necessary, and
more justified entitlement theories will be the natural effect, ffow may we take
advantage of the benefits ofproduction, i.e. the satisfaction of needs, without taking
advantage of the means ofproduction, i.e. people, environmental resources, and the
needs of others? This is the question I would like everyone to eventually ask
themselves before producing or destroying anything. Only they will need to have in
their possession both general and specific understandings of this question in order to
If you are to bear with my imagination and picture the entire world composed
of ranked countries, some more vital to our civilization than others (namely
manifested in the egocentrism of the United States and the United Kingdom) as one
giant anthropomorphized system, you may find similarities with the metaphor. The
most vital countries, analogous to the central nervous system, are the receivers and
givers of information. They process both the input and the output of all experiences
(namely media), including those related to power, profit, and growth. You will find
that these countries have more advanced communication technologies, trading and
traveling both faster and further than their counterparts. As a result, they seem to
share in the advancement of all other technologies. Countries that model after the
central nervous system will undoubtedly benefit in relation to the much larger society,
only at the exploitation of other countries who must be appropriated as other parts.
Naturally, the head needs other vital organs, so it recognizes this and appoints allies.
All other surroundings may be seen as useful, but expendable.
The church is not expendable. It is our endocrine system. Who could put up
with the hardships, pains, and toils of this life without opiates? Not us. Our own
bodies naturally create hormones that resemble opiates. The endocrine system,
however, still operates as an informational signal system (...the word was with God,
and the word was God. John 1:1) only it uses blood vessels as information channels,
as opposed to nerves.
It is funny to me how our anthropomorphism seems to continue as each
person down the chain sees themselves as the head and the others around them as the
necessary and unnecessary parts. How very anthropocentric! Did Copernicus not
already teach us that we were not at the center of the universe? But now we must go
further, and admit that our minds do not hold everything into existence, despite
Berkeley. We are lucky to be alive; not blessed, nor privileged, nor deserving, nor
by any other act of grace other than luck. You emerged out of your surroundings as a
consumer of these surroundings.
And now that we find ourselves in competition with a predator/consumer of
our making, at this point we must ask: How can we re-organize society for the
purpose of environmental sustainability without suppressing our natural instinct for
growth, profit, and power? Although I lack experience in developing political
systems, I would like to study this topic further, and I wish to develop an idea of what
society would have to look like in order to function sustainably.
In this thesis, I hope I have expressed my viewpoints as an empiricist, animal
behaviorist, and materialist. I did not wish to make reference to souls or social spirits
in my work, other than when referring to other authors. Human beings are limited,
Before we work with the topics of personal and social identity as concrete
phenomena in psychology and sociology, we must define them under empirical terms.
This thesis ignored any metaphysical debates regarding personhood and provided an
account for the empirical person as Gilbert Ryle would have. Here is a paraphrase of
his university example:
During a campus tour a man asked to see the university. The tour guide led him to
the classrooms, where the man asked again. He took him to library, where the man
asked again. Finally, when the man asked at the next stop, the tour guide realized
that the man had committed a category mistake. He explained to the man that the
university was the functioning of so many parts, and not necessarily a specific
building or place.
This example lends us a model for identifying persons. Up until now, we had
suffered from category mistaken-identities. Persons, like universities, may also be
seen as the functioning of so many parts, and not necessarily found in any specific
part (i.e., the soul, nervous system, heart, etc.). Granted, some parts may be removed
and the body will still function as a person. Persons have lost both limbs and
features, yet have remained persons. Grandma had Alzheimers disease but we
continued to refer to her as Grandma, and indeed a person. But would we call a
nervous system floating in a tank a person? It would need a heart. If we gave it a
heart, it would still need a stomach and various other parts to be considered a person.
We eventually find that the person is indeed a system, like the university. This
system, in order to be identified, must continue its life course and simultaneously
respond to external systems and the stimuli which they present. And with this type of
system, we may now measure identity in terms of its inputs and outputs, but more
specifically learning and behavior.
After making this point, I hope I drew many parallels between animal and
human behavior. Sometimes we act like the herd, sometimes we acts like the pack,
sometimes we do not belong to either. The point is we as humans have the ability to
observe other animal behavior in nature and adapt to our situation, just as some
animals do the same to us. We call this social modeling theory. I believe the answer
to our problem might already be present in the animal kingdom, but it must be sought
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