Aristotle, the Greek philosopher writes "Man is a social animal. He who lives without society is either a beast or God". Thus, man is by nature a social animal. He is born in society lives in society and dies in society. Society is indispensable for man. Man cannot live as man, without society. Isolation from society is regarded as a punishment. Solitary life is unbearable for him. Social life is necessary for man. The instinct for some form of social life is innate in human being. Professor Park says, "Man is not born human but to be made human". Man can be called social animal for the following reasons:
1) Man is social by nature:
Human nature is such that it cannot but live in society. Man's nature impels him to live in society. The human child is endowed with some latent capacities. Human qualities like capacity to learn language, enquire and think, play and work ,help or harm others, etc. are developed in human society only. These capacities grow through social interaction with others. One cannot develop into a normal person in isolation. There are eminent sociologist like Maciver and others who have cited a number of cases. Studies. These case studies show the fact that man develops human qualities only in society.
(i) The case of Kasper Houser:
Kasper Hauser, a young German boy, was isolated from all kinds of human contact when he was a small child. He lived in isolation in the forest of Nuremberg till he reached the age of seventeen. He was brought out form the forest in 1928 and was taken to the city of Nuremberg. It was found that he could neither walk nor talk properly. He simply muttered a few-meaningless phrase. He could not distinguish between inanimate and animate objects after his death, the post-mortem. Report revealed that his mental development was not normal In spite of his subsequent education be could never become a normal man.
ii) The case of Amala and Kamala
Two Hindu children Amala and Kamala were discovered in a Wolf den in 1928. By then Amala was two years old and Kamala was nearly eight at the time, when they were discovered from the den. Amala died soon after discovery. Kamala continued to live until 1929. It was found that she behaved like a beast and walked like a four-footed animal. She could not speak and growled like a wolf. She was shy of human contact. It was only after careful and sympathetic training that she could learn some social habits like simple speech, eating, dressing and the like.
iii) The case of Anna.
Recently the case of Anna, an elegits mint American child was studied by some sociologists and psychologists. Anna at the age of six months was placed in a room in complete isolation for nearly five years. She was discovered in 1938. On the discovery, it was found that, she could not walk or speak and was indifferent to people around her. She was given careful training after which she rapidly developed human qualities. She died in 1942. The case of Anna proves that human nature develops only when he is one of many people sharing a common life.
These cases prove that human being is social by nature. Human nature develops in man only when he lives in society.
2) Development of self.
The human infant, at his birth, is not fully aware of his own "self'. He develops the idea of self through the interaction with others. Charles H.Cooley says that the very idea of "self' or "I" can arise only in relationship with other people. G.H.Mead says that at first the child performs the role of others with his parents and other persons at home. Then, gradually he takes the role of other persons such as playmates, friends etc. In this way self develops.
3) Social heritage determines Human personality
Man is social because he depends on social heritage which is a mixture of customs beliefs and ideals etc. Society preserves social heritage and transmits it from one generation to another. Social heritage molds man's attitudes, beliefs, morals and ideals. It is said that "Man only becomes man among Men". Man is born with some inborn potentialities. It is the social heritage, which determines the manner in which his innate potentialities express themselves in society. Emotional development, intellectual maturity is not possible without society. Therefore, society determines our mental equipment's. It shapes our identity, our thought and our emotions.
4) Necessity makes a man social.
Necessity compels man to live in society. Man has a variety of needs. If he leads a cooperative life with his fellow beings in society he can easily get his needs fulfilled. Many of his needs will remain unsatisfied if he does not lead a cooperative life with his fellow beings. The human child is born helpless. Without proper care he cannot develop himself. During infancy he must be provided with nutrition, shelter and affection. It is society, which extends protection, attention and opportunities necessary for his survival and growth.
The society protects the child against all sorts of danger and difficulty. Apart from fulfilling the basic needs of a man, the society satisfies his desires and aspirations. The society fulfills various needs like educational, protection, nurture, opportunity and equipment's etc. The need for self- preservation which is felt by everyone is fulfilled by society. So the prolonged dependence of human child compels him to live in society.
There are mainly two theories of the relationship of man and society. One of them is Social Contract Theory and the other is Organismic Theory.
Social contract Theory was originated by three eminent philosophers namely, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1778) and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). The exponents of this theory believed that people lived in the 'State of Nature' before the society came in to existence. At this primitive stage, people had no idea about society. But, the exponents expressed different views on the prevailing conditions of the 'State of Nature'. The society was the result of the contract among individuals for their collective as well as personal benefit.
Organism Theory is divided into two kinds namely, the organic theory and the Group-mind theory.
The organic Theory was propounded by Herbert Spencer, Novico, Spengler, Bluntschli and others in the nineteenth century. This theory states that society is a kind of living organism. Its structure and functions resemble the structure and functions of the living human body. The human body goes through different stages of development such as birth, youth, maturity, old age and death. Society also passes through similar stages. The organs of human of human body like the ears, eyes, hands, head, legs etc. are all inter-dependent and they form an organic whole, although each of them has distinct functions of its own. In the same way, society is composed of associations and institutions with specific functions.
The circulatory system of the human body corresponds to the communication and transport system of the society, the nervous system corresponds to the system of the government in the society. The biological being is composed of cells. Similarly, society is composed of individuals who are regarded as its cells. In this way, organic theory shows that the relation between the individual and society are intimate,
The group mind Theory states that society has a collective or group mind. A number of philosophers have subscribed to this view, but for the first time, it was Plato who mentioned the social mind in his Republic. Plato regarded civil society as a mind "writ large". The idealistic philosophers hold the view that society is a super-individual entity. It has a mind of its own. It is more than the minds of the individuals.
William Mc Dougall accepts the concept of the social mind or, what is the otherwise known as group-mind. According to him, "The Society has a mental life or its own which is not the mere sum of the mental lives of its units existing as independent units.
Emile Durkheim also believes in the social mind. According to him, social mind is distinct from the mind of the individuals and is superior to it. The social mind or collective consciousness is the higher form of psychic life.