THE GEOLOGY OF MORALS

The distinction between institutions which emerge from centralized and decentralized decision-making by its human components has come to occupy center-stage in several different contemporary philosophies.

However, even though most societies develop some rankings, not in all of them do they become an autonomous dimension of social organization. In many societies differentiation of the elites is not extensive, surpluses do not accumulate, and primordial relations (of kin and local alliances) tend to prevail. Hence a second operation is necessary beyond the mere sorting of people into ranks for social classes or castes to become a separate entity: the informal sorting criteria need to be given a theological interpretation and a legal definition, and the elites need to become the guardians and bearers of the newly institutionalized tradition, that is, the legitimizers of change and delineators of the limits of innovation.

In short, to transform a loose accumulation of traditional roles (and criteria of access to those roles) into a social class, the latter needs to become consolidated via theological and legal codification.

T Marq
Source: THE GEOLOGY OF MORALS
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