03 September 2016

Man and Social Reality

In addition to living in the material reality of nature, man also moves within a social reality of his own creation.

Social reality consists of those institutions (in a broad sense) created by human beings as a result of cooperative actions in order to facilitate those cooperative actions. These institutions may be informal cultural practices or formal organizations. Examples include such things as language, property, money, marriage, schools, corporations, law, and governments.

Last week's post observed that most secularists, whether conservative or liberal, differ from traditional Christians about the origins and attributes of material reality. Similarly, secularists differ as well about the origins of the institutions that constitute our social reality. For secularists, these institutions are human conventions to meet human needs. These institutions emerge in particular historical circumstances and differ from place to place. They also evolve over time to adjust to changing historical circumstances.

For traditional Christians, however, many of these institutions came from God. As "revealed" in the Bible, God created marriage, property, language, government and a host of other practices and institutions.

Because social reality is man-made, however, the attributes of particular institutions are contestable. Conflicts occur in every society over whether existing cultural practices or institutional organizations need to adjust or, if so, what kind of modifications are needed. Much of political debate both in the past and the present centers on just this question how a societies and their institutions adapt to change.

This contestability of social reality to some extent alters the ideological landscape. On the question of the origins of social reality secular conservatives side with "the secular left" against religious conservatives. On the question of the attributes and ends of our social institutions, however, most secular conservatives will find themselves on the same side as most religious conservatives.

The "Rational Right" and the "Religious Right" are both on the right--in the right.

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