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What is society?
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Collective rationalization has imprisoned the individual

Societies have erected institutions designed to maximize efficiency. In doing so, they have built prisons that incarcerate the individual.


Human rationality and knowledge lead to the development of societal institutions designed to make our lives better. These institutions have become prisons within which we are trapped.

The Argument

We devise societal institutions to make our lives simpler, make processes more efficient and preserve our values. These technological, organizational and efficiency institutions are a direct product of our wisdom and rationalization, but they are ultimately imprisoning us. In rationalized populations, a capitalist system emerges through which every element of society is measured through the lens of returns on investment. While societies streamline labor and improve decision-making, they pursue efficiency for efficiency’s sake. In the pursuit of maximum returns on investment, values fall by the wayside and the individual is trapped in the machine of efficiency. [1] This is visible in the development of modern societies. When humans developed from hunter-gatherer societies to pastoral societies in which rationality played a central role in decision making and efficiency was prioritized, food surpluses resulted in the emergence of different economic classes. Along with the emergence of economic classes came slavery, patriarchy and other repressive organs in society.

Counter arguments



Capitalism is an unavoidable product of organized society. Once capitalism and the establishment of economic classes occurs, the individual becomes imprisoned by the machine and their value is reducible to a return on investment.


[P1] Societies strive to make the individual more efficient. [P2] The pursuit of efficiency is irreconcilable with the preservation of human values and the wellbeing of the individual. [P3] Therefore, societies create a prison in which the individual cannot escape.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Friday, 6 Mar 2020 at 12:11 UTC