A topic over immortality triggered my extended thought over the similarity of life and society.
definition of life
The meaning of life has always been a philosophy problem that confuses generations. I have my own opinion, though, that life has only one simple target: existence. To exist, life must have some basic features, i.e. adaptivity to the environment, advantages over competitors, trend of reproduction.
The trend of reproduction is a obviously the most important feature. We know entropy tends to destroy things, and the only way to avoid that is to have a counter measure that at least balances the effect. Without the trend of reproduction, nothing can promise the long term existence. At this point, we may as well modify this feature to be more general as, trend and ability of lower the entropy locally, as globally is not possible.
With some thought, advantages over competitors can be included into adaptivity to the environment. Environment here as a counter definition of life implies the effective range that a life is subjected to, thus the same range that it can actively change, which happens to be included in the former feature, as 'locally', what a coincidence.
Everything now seems perfectly simple and beautiful to conclude, that life is something with trend and ability of lower the entropy locally. There may be other features that I may not think of, but I believe that those are negligible or can be categorized into the scope of the definition.
analogy to the society
The definition here is rather board that it allows me to view a lot of things as life that normally does not count as. A society, for example.
A society is just interaction among the individuals. However, it does lower the local entropy by assigning (as a phenomenon) different jobs to individuals that ensures an effective system to the welfare of most individuals.
More specifically, it is most likely to be ADAPTIVE to the productivity base, has ADVANTAGES over other forms of society, and often has a willing to impose itself on other groups, thus REPRODUCTION.
The most successful life form now, as within the human knowledge scope, in terms of species, in terms of ability to reform the environment, is human ourselves. (wow, a lot of restrictions here...) To be broader, it can also be mammals, or simply carbon based life-forms. To be narrower, it can be cells , or even basic like DNA of a human. The important thing is, what can we learn from these success?
The human species is a life form, thus the existence is its primary target. Ironically this is not the case of individual human, mammal, cells and DNA of human, and most of the carbon based life-form (with very few exceptions like turritopsis nutricula). These life-forms all use death as a primary tool to ensure long term adaptation to the changing environment (the definition of evolution). In other words, they exist as a group at the expense of death of individuals.
The analogy to the society does not simply convey the death part though (hopefully). It does however, convey the part that require individual sacrifice, willingly or not. A mammal does not choose which species which it is born to, just like a cell does not choose to become a brain-cell that last a life time or a skin cell that last several weeks. Refuse of death in cells causes cancer which endangers the entire human body.
Individual sacrifice seems to be the only way of having a strong society. It might be anything from freedom of speech, personal privacy and freedom, private properties. These explains a lot in the prosperity of Nazi, Soviet Union, and East Asia. What modern liberals are once afraid of and now look down on (and are afraid of at the same time), is a society that manage to maintain stable with those individual sacrifice.
is it necessary?
Technically not. The analogy is primitive as it views the natural death and sacrifice as the only tool to remain adaptive, having advantages, or even basically, to have the trend of lowering local entropy. But this is not the case.
One of the most successful invention of society is education, as it teaches individual to become a more adaptive and competitive one over other individuals, thus over all other species. But is this enough? We see educated liberals refuse to take vaccines for public welfare, and educated individuals exploiting the entire society for their own interest.
There must also be other ways though, with technology advances. However, as long as human nature remains, I do believe that, individual sacrifice to some degree, does benefits the society as a whole, at least for a while.
extended topics with no conclusions (most likely)
What does immortality mean to the society?
Freedom of speech, personal privacy and freedom, private properties, are these negotiable over stability, security and public interest?