Sociology and Misanthropy
by Sociology is a Science
Misanthropy is a point of view.
It says that all humanity is cruel and vile. People cannot be trusted. The closer you are, (friendship,romance) the further away you get (the creeping pain of vulnerability). Emotional closeness deconstructs and destroys us.
Misanthropes see human beings as sharks with huge frontal lobes. That is, humans are as predatory and strategic as any animal, yet they ALSO have a neo-cortex with which they can engage in highly sophisticated planning, memory, abstract thinking ability and alliance formation.
We are the king predators. We dominate Earth, as we dominate each other.
I contend that sociology gets us to precisely this conclusion.
The study of sociology is misanthropic in its essence. Truly, its ESSENCE, and I choose this word specifically. Sociology did not start out misanthropic. Historically, it’s trajectory is indeed often emphatically humanistic. All I am suggesting here, is that sociology’s basic foundational theoretical assumptions are misanthropic in their implications.
Sociology gave the world its first conscious statement of the doctrine of symbolic interactionism. This school of thought argues that all of human life is the shared construction of symbolic meaning during various encounters. So, a husband and wife are “married” because they have constructed a fictive world of fairy tales, eternal promises, and entwined souls. Symbols with which this fantasy world is constructed and maintained include stone-encrusted rings on fingers, new ways of behaving, unusual, rule-based dress during ‘sacred’ ceremonial proceedings and new socially demanded identities, even new names among other things.
This is just an example of marriage, but in principal, symbolic interactionism is applied to all domains in one’s life, not just the family (e.g., occupational, peer/friend, parental). This account of social life is Herbert Blumer’s, and he promoted it heavily.
It was Erving Goffman who came along in the 1960s and 70s and emphasized how strategic and self-absorbed all of this symbol-manipulating really was.
It was Goffman who showed us that symbolic interactionism entails misanthropy.
Why? Because the SIZE of the ring a man gives his wife is a signal to her about his economic lavishness.
It does not, however, and in fact, indicate this.
The sizeof the ring might only indicate only how many months he was willing to go without Netflix to supplement his shit income to get you to finally agree to let him hump your indifferent and half-asleep (you being the only breadwinner) body for the rest of your life. Yes, it often turns out like this.
Goffman showed us that the ring, the dress, the hair, the outfits, the walk, the talk, fuck, ALL of it is just a bunch of (mostly bad) acting in pursuit of self-interested goals like adulation and support.
Consider, on an everyday basis, why you REALLY wear the clothes you wear or say the things you say or believe what you believe. If you changed ALL of these things TOMORROW, how many of your friends would you have? How much of their respect would you lose?
On Goffman’s account, your life is a fucking circus act of manipulation to accumulate an ever more bloated self-image.
In other words, humans do not use symbols only to communicate — they use symbols to profoundly and tirelessly exploit.
Sociology also answers the question of why humans bother to dress and act as though they were mere parts in a play. They do so for continuous admiration and adulation,of course, but specifically, they do it for 4 reasons.
This is Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology, by the way. He argued that humans possessed four forms of ‘capital’. Cultural capital is comportment; that is, styles of dress, ways of talking and walking and standing, ways of starting, conducting and ending conversations and so on.
Cultural capital is behavior in an interaction.
It’s the difference between your plumber being a temporarily out of work Economist named Bertrand from Harvard vs. a chronically out of work rapist named Biff from the local homeless shelter. These guys would act completely differently, and one would be acceptable while the other creepy and unsettling — knowing the difference and knowing how to act correctly is cultural capital.
Social capital consists of network connections/networking opportunities. Networking opportunities can be turned into cash, status and power in rather obvious ways. I won’t belabor this point.
Symbolic capital, on the other hand, includes ideas and worldviews. You know how some music is ‘cool’ to like? I remember when I was in high school, all the kids would be EXTREMELY, LIKE TOTALLY absorbed in some rather awful, obscure underground music.
Now, some unknown artists are great, nobody is denying this. However, liking a musician primarily because they are ‘underground,’ along with knowing the difference, is symbolic capital.
Generally, symbolic capital are things like worldviews, political commitments and the like. But to the degree that music constitutes a worldview (as it does for many), it is symbolic capital.
So people engage in dramatized ‘acting’ with others so as to manipulate them into disseminating valuable cultural, symbolic, social and material (money) capital.
Sociology teaches that man is the parasite of man and that social blood has four types.
Is it so? Is social life a beautiful abandonment?