The complexity-sustainability trade-off and Dunbar’s Number

“It is suggested that the number of neocortical neurons limits the organism’s information-processing capacity and that this then limits the number of relationships that an individual can monitor simultaneously. When a group’s size exceeds this limit, it becomes unstable and begins to fragment. This then places an upper limit on the size of groups which any given species can maintain as cohesive social units through time.”

Systems, not People, Make Society Happen, free book by Michael King

“Michael King takes recent academic debates concerning the nature of knowledge, the observation of reality and the relationship between social and conscious systems and, by reproducing them in the form of a highly readable narrative makes them applicable to contemporary social issues. Anyone who has an interest in the future of humanity and is concerned by claims that the future can be controlled by decisions made in the present will find this book fascinating and disturbing reading.”

Problems with spatial mapping

The nation, or the nation-state, has been the privileged unit of modernity, but has never ruled out entirely other units of mapping cultures – from the “tribal” units of anthropology to the civilizational units of high cultures. These mappings establish boundaries that are thought to express something about what they contain – more often than not a political unit that derives its identity from particular social and cultural practices, the one not clearly distinguished from the other.

Notes on Georg Simmel

According to Georg Simmel (1858-1918), the inability to actually know another person creates the condition for social relations. Society has created categories, type, or generalizations to facilitate social interaction. For example, when a student talks to a teacher, the student relies on a generalized concept or image of teachers. But the role of “teacher” doesn’t tell us much about the person who plays that role.

1 2 3