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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Social Texture
By David Atwood Wasson (1823–1887)
 
From ‘Essays; Religious, Social, Political’

ALL genesis is social. Every production, not of life only, but of faculty, power, action, motion, is conditioned upon a social constitution of beings, objects, or elements.  1
  Society, as we commonly speak, signifies relation between conscious individuals. But it is obvious that every system of relation through which diverse objects, animate or inanimate, concur to one effect, is of a like nature. Now, in such relation lies the quickening of the world. Without it, nothing lives or moves; without it the universe were dead. Illustrations of this truth are to be seen on all sides: one cannot look but they are before the eyes. As the seed germinates, and the tree grows, only by effect of a society, so to speak, in which the sun, soil, air, and water concur with the object itself; as chemical correlation is in the grass of the field, in the soil that nourishes it, in the earths that sustain the soil, in the rock of which earth is formed; as locomotion is possible only through a determinate mode of relation between the active power of the mover (itself a product of relation) on the one hand, and the earth’s attraction and resistance on the other; as the flow of rivers and fall of rain are conditioned upon the whole system of relations which effect the production, distribution, and condensation of aqueous vapor; as the powers of steam, of the lever, the pulley, the screw, are in like manner conditioned,—so it is always and everywhere: a social constitution of things, and order and play of relation, is required for any and every generation of effect. In the crook of a finger and the revolution of a world, in the fertilization of a pistil and the genesis of a civilization, the same fact is signalized as the fountain of all power. The birth, therefore, of the individual from social relation is anything but anomalous or singular; rather, it is in pursuance of a productive method from which nature never departs.  2
  For the method is continued in the production of those faculties and qualities by virtue of which the individual is a human creature. Relation between men is, in the order of nature, a necessary means to the making of man. It is just as impossible there should be a really human individual without a community of men, with its genetic effect, as that there should be a community without individuals. By a man we do not mean merely a biped animal conscious of its existence, but a speaking, thinking, and moral, or morally qualified, creature. Speech, thought, and morals;—with these, there are human beings; without them, none. But, one and all, they are possible to the individual only through his relation with others of his kind.  3
 
 
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