Homo politicus, homo economicus, legalis homo, etc.

We may reduce the complexity of the human condition by highlighting one function system, such as the politics, as in Aristotle’s claim that man is a political animal (homo politicus), or we can follow John Stuart Mill speak of Homo economicus. We might also focus on law, again with reference to Aristotle’s Politics: “For as man is the best of the animals when perfected, so he is the worst of all when sundered from law and justice” Aristotle (Pol. 1.1253a). Black’s Law Dictionary uses the term legalis homo, the lawful man. Finally, in the contemporary so-called information or mass media age, we can might use the term homo medialis.

But we lose a great deal when we attempt to reduce the complexity in this way.  Human beings are far more complex that homo politicus, homo economicus, legalis homohomo medialis. But rather than focusing on human beings, we can think of different kinds of communication that society produces—political communication, economic communication, legal communication, mass media communication, scientific communication, etc. Society produces and reproducing all of these kinds of communication, and more—and no single communication system can steer or dominate global society.

The term legalis homo seems very obscure, but it was not so uncommon in the 18th century. This Google Books Ngram indicates that homo economicus has been the most commonly used of these three terms since 1950.



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