Social Convention and Samuel Butler's Erewhon
There are many conceivable explanations that have the potential to
rationalize the preservation of society through time. These
explanations clarify the fact that society, since its inception, has
continued to exist. I assert that the precise reason for this
self-perpetuation is convention, and moreover, that convention
encompasses all of the other possible explanations for this
continuance. Yet this conclusion merely follows from proper
distinctions of terminology. Real profundity stems from the
examination of convention in relation to individuals who follow it. I
find that many individuals are not cognizant of the fact that society
rests…show more content…
Thus, convention is a requirement of society.
Members of a given society must agree upon basic principles to be able
to share them. In American society, the use of English as a common
language, the use of dollars as an exchange for goods and services and
the use of traffic lights as a means for order are all conventions.
Mostly everyone who drives agrees that when a traffic light is red, it
means stop. When people stop following this convention, car accidents
occur. On a much broader scale, if people stopped following the
conventions of English as a common language and dollars as an exchange
for goods and services, American society would fall apart.
When usually speaking about convention and society, individuals
usually converse about religion and hand shaking, not language. Yet
one must realize that language is just as much a convention as hand
shaking is. Language is a general agreement about basic principle,
how to communicate verbally. Furthermore, I assert that religion and
hand shaking are not essential elements of the framework of American
society while English and dollars are. This distinction is often
overlooked and must be clarified.