TREATISES
of
The Society of HumanKind

8

OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS

SUMMARY
Achievement of the Aim of the Society requires cooperation between, and a consensus of, the whole of humanity over a considerable period of time. However, the Society accepts that its own founding ideas, set out in the Treatise of Knowledge and elsewhere, lead to the conclusions that human knowledge is uncertain; that we cannot predict our own development either as individuals or as a species, and that our future abilities, skills and knowledge cannot be foreseen. Under those conditions this Treatise shows how the Society can nevertheless create and maintain the long-term and effective relationships required for the achievement of its Aim. In so doing the Treatise also sets out the Society's general rules for all types and levels of human relationships.

Acceptance of the Axioms and choice of the Dogma gives rise to the Third Principle which identifies our willingness to combine and co-operate with each other as our only hope for the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma and the Aim of the Society of HumanKind. The general conclusion drawn from the Third Principle by the Society is that humanity is a communal species whose prospects for the achievement of any long term purpose ultimately rest on the ability of the individuals involved to maintain stable, co-operative relationships with one another. That must apply with special force to any attempt by adherents of the Society of HumanKind to realise its Aim.

All the aspirations of the Society of HumanKind depend on the establishment and maintenance of stable and mutually supportive relationships between individuals and groups. Successful relationships are indispensable to the effort of the Society to maximise the skills, capacities and qualities of every individual, and apply their energies and abilities to the solution of the ever-present and infinitely changeable problems of the survival and progress of the human species. The problem for the Society is that other implications of the Axioms point to an inherent tension between the conditions that make any human relationship viable and useful, and the observable qualities and abilities of our species.

Joint actions by groups of individuals can, of course, be organised on the basis of leadership and/or duress. However that approach to its communal activities is not available to the Society of HumanKind in view of the uncertainty of all human knowledge arising from the Axioms described in the Treatise of Knowledge. In the light of the conclusion of that Treatise, and by its Principles, the Society will require that every participant in any joint activity should be equally valued, and equally permitted to influence any decision-making process. It is possible that leaders, directing organisers or the like may arise in specific co-operative actions taken by the Society, but only because there has been a general agreement among all those involved that this is the best way forward in the enterprise in hand, and that some form of leadership is necessary in the specific circumstances.

In applying its principles to co-operative activity between individuals undertaken in pursuit of its Aim therefore, the Society will begin with, and rest upon, the development of a consensus between the participants about the form, nature and purpose of the joint venture, rather than any other approach. The practical benefits of that approach by the Society are two-fold. First, it allows the whole range of the available individual qualities, characteristics and abilities to be applied to the search for the best way forward. Second, it enables every participant to estimate and anticipate, with at least some degree of confidence, how others involved are likely to react to problems, changes and developments as the joint activity progresses. Indeed, many would regard the creation and maintenance of such a consensus about the future of an activity as indispensable to success in any co-operative venture.

Yet two other implications of the Axioms and Dogma of the Society stand in the way of that search for consensus. In the Treatise of Knowledge it is concluded that the First Axiom implies absolute uncertainty in all our knowledge, while the Second and Third Axioms identify a fundamental characteristic of our species as being a lack of any attribute enabling us to foresee our future with any accuracy. Taken together these implications of the Axioms show that neither the Society nor its adherents can ever assume or believe that humanity, or any individual member of it, is able to predict or control with any confidence, either the future consequences of their own social behaviour, or the manner in which human social life will progress and develop. This is a condition of the human species set out in the Principle 1.2.

How then, are members of the Society to come to any common agreement about what each individual should do in order to achieve any common purpose, particularly where any such objective is to be shared by large numbers of individuals over a long period of time?. The Aim of the Society of HumanKind is, without question, just such a large scale co-operative venture by humanity. It would seem the Axioms suggest that the Aim of the Society may not be attainable, since they question whether the necessary degree of long-term human co-operation can either be achieved or maintained.

The difficulty for the Society in this respect can be precisely stated. The Society needs to establish and maintain long term co-operative arrangements if it is to carry forward the search for a means to extend life beyond death. Unfortunately, its own founding ideas and principles lead to the conclusion that humanity has neither the necessary attributes nor the potential to sustain them. The question to be addressed in this Treatise then is, given that conclusion, is it possible for adherents of the Society of HumanKind to foster, encourage and establish those stable and useful co-operative relations with others which are an essential prerequisite for the maintenance of the Conditions of the Dogma, and hence the pursuit of their Aim. Or must they resign themselves to rely solely on their faith and devotion to the Society to bring about their liberation from the oblivion of death?

The Society and its adherents must never abandon their faith in the Dogma, nor their hope for the future of our species. And despite the difficulties already described in this Treatise there are positive actions adherents can take to foster good and productive social relationships in pursuit of their Aim. It has already been concluded that the Society cannot solve the problem it has with co-operation between individuals by using any form of coercion to achieve its Aim. But the Society can begin to find a solution to its problem by recalling the implication of the Axioms taken as a whole; that we are alone in our universe. That proposition removes the possibility of there being any external all-pervading power or authority to restrain or direct human behaviour.

The absence of any external restraint on human behaviour gained by an acceptance of the Axioms significantly affects the nature and structure of all human relationships. In the uncertain world of the Axioms every individual is autonomous, with unfettered power to choose whether or not to enter into any relationship and how they should behave within it. That degree of freedom must include the contribution each individual chooses to make to co-operation with others. The advent of the Society may change much in lives of its adherents but it leaves them fully in control of their own behaviour. It follows that in the era of the Society free co-operation between individuals begins with everyone involved recognising that the only part of the relationship over which they can properly exercise any degree of effective control is the contribution they make to it. With that perspective the pursuit of stable and productive human relationships in a Society in which nothing is certain resolves itself into the problem of how each individual in those relationships should best shape and mould his or her own behaviour toward others.

The First Axiom puts an absolute restriction on the certainty of human knowledge. It does not however, as the Second Axiom indicates, dismiss the possibility that we can, by practice and study, improve both the scope and quantity of our information about ourselves and our universe, and our skills in dealing with each other and our environment. We can therefore hope that, with experience and practice, we can all develop an ability to understand, within a reasonable degree of accuracy, how other members of our species feel about, and are therefore likely to react to, events and incidents in our mutual social life. That proposition is sufficient for this purpose even if that ability is a wholly learned rather than in any sense an acquired or inherited characteristic. Given only that proposition and the earlier discussion, it is possible to develop a guide for adherents of the Society of HumanKind on how they can best maintain the relationships necessary to the pursuit of its Aim. The rule that emerges is that adherents of the Society can foster and support effective and productive relationships by cultivating their ability to make their intentions and behaviour predictable to others.

A simple example of the type of rule of individual behaviour being described is a maxim of ancient lineage, drawn from a now almost forgotten era, but which has served humankind admirably as a buttress and reinforcement of our communities in the past. It is the honourable tradition that a man's word should be his bond. That if he says he will do something, then that is a sufficient and complete guarantee of its actual performance whatever the cost or circumstances. Great societies and incredible human achievements have been built around that seemingly slender framework. Predictability of intent and performance is of the greatest value to others in the conduct of our social life, and, through the medium of the Society of HumanKind, it can become of inestimable value to the hopes of all humanity.

In all our social and political relationships in the era of the Society of HumanKind, our Duty and our interests are both best served by our making every effort to make our behaviour predictable to others. We should ensure that all those who may be affected by our actions and decisions are able to anticipate what we mean to do or say, and we must faithfully meet the expectations we have created.

Those necessary preconditions for success in the development and maintenance of individual co-operative relationships are not confined to individual co-operation. They hold equally true for all aspects of human communal life. The conclusions that have been drawn in this Treatise about the structure, nature, and skills required for the maintenance of successful individual relations, and their importance to our efforts to determine our fate, apply in equal or perhaps greater force to those between communities and among the groups within them.

If the Objective of the Dogma is to be achieved and the Aim of the Society realised we must not neglect the development and application of the skills involved in the maintenance of inter-group relationships. Group and other kinds of division are deeply rooted in the social life of our species. Our history records the existence and persistence of groups and aggregates of individuals as a universal feature, especially those based on divisions between the different varieties of humanity. Weight is added to the argument that such divisions are the usual or normal condition of our species by the observation that this is also a common feature of the social organisation of most of the other life forms that share our planet.

In any event, our tendency toward social, political, national, racial and other groupings cannot be ignored or denied. Indeed, as the Principle of Peace indicates, the variety of our species is one of its greatest strengths, giving range and depth to the skills, abilities and qualities that are available to meet the constant challenge presented to us by our hostile environment. The ingenuity of humanity should be applied to the development of competence in managing and maintaining co-operation and communality between human groups, rather than to any attempt to eliminate the differences between them. In the light of the Axioms and the earlier discussions of this Treatise, all that work must have as its base predictability of individual and group behaviour, and confidence that every promise and commitment, whether by an individual, or the group or community of which he is a member, will be faithfully discharged in full.

Those who may object that these conclusions are ambiguous and give no guidance to the resolution of future disputes and differences of opinion in human relationships have failed to understand the argument of this Treatise, or to appreciate the consequences of an acceptance of the Second Axiom. In the age of the Axioms, as was anticipated earlier, no prescription or universal description of human relationship can be given. Nothing can usefully be specified beyond the attitudes and approach that all parties to any human relationship should adopt and maintain.

A social life based on the Axioms and Principles cannot be prescribed in advance, nor can it be specified for all time. In the pursuit of its Aim the Society of HumanKind will accept that any human relationship, whether it be between individuals or groups, and whether it takes the form of a fleeting contact; a life long partnership, or a co-operative effort to liberate ourselves from the oblivion of death, must be based on the principles of openness and flexibility. Its form must allow for a continuous process of change and adaptation in the light of the development of new skills and knowledge, and changed circumstances. Almost paradoxically acceptance of the Axioms and choice of the Dogma leads to the conclusion that, in the field of human relationships, stability and utility can only be safely sought in flux; order and security in apparent anarchy; and the best prospect of permanence in a constant willingness to change. Only the roots of mutual confidence and trust based on predictability of commitment and performance must be planted deep and remain undisturbed.

Of all the activities in which humanity must engage, co-operation with others is the one most clearly subject to the Second and Third Axioms. Which, taken together, tell us that in our relations with others we can neither foresee all our future problems, nor the solutions we will find to them.


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©Lawrence Thornton Roach
2000-2005 AD