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How is society possible?

But this very certainty has for us, justifiably or not, also the
fact of the thou; and as cause or as effect of this certainty we
feel the thou as something independent of our representation,
something which is just as really for itself (genau so fur sich
ist) as our own existence. That this for-itself of the other
nevertheless does not prevent us from making it into OUr
representation, that something which cannot be resolved into our
representing still becomes the content, and thus the product of
our representation-this is the profoundest
psychologico-epistemological pattern and problem of
socialization. Within our own consciousness we distinguish very
precisely between the fundamentality of the ego (the
presupposition of all representation, which has no part in the
never wholly suppressible problematics of its contents) and these
contents themselves, which as an aggregate, with their coming and
going, their dubitability and their fallibility, always present
themselves as mere products of that absolute and final energy and
existence of our psychic being. We must carry over to the other
soul, however, these very conditions, or rather independence of
conditions, of our own ego, although in the last analysis we must
represent that soul. That other soul has for us that last degree
of reality which our own self possesses in distinction from its
contents. We are sure that the case stands the same way with the
other soul and its contents. Under these circumstances, the
question, How is Society possible? has a wholly different
methodological bearing from the question, How is nature possible?
The latter question is to be answered by the forms of cognition,
through which the mind synthesizes given elements into "nature."
The former question is answered by the conditions residing a
priori in the elements themselves, through which they combine
themselves actually into the synthesis "society." In a certain
sense the entire contents of this book, as developed on the basis
of the principle announced, may be regarded as the material for
answering this question. The book searches out the procedures,
occurring in the last analysis in individuals, which condition
the existence of the individuals as society. It does not treat
these procedures as temporally antecedent causes of this result,
but as partial processes of the synthesis which we
comprehensively name "society. "But the question must be
understood in a still more fundamental sense. I said that the
function of achieving the synthetic unity, which with reference
to nature resides in the observing mind, with reference to
society passes over to the societary elements themselves. The
consciousness of constituting society is not to be sure, in the
abstract, present in the individual; but everyone always knows
that the others are connected with himself, although this knowing
about the other as the associated, this recognizing of the whole
complex as a society usually occurs with reference to particular
concrete contents. Perhaps, however, the case is not different
from that of "the unity of cognition" (die Einheit des
Erkennens), according to which we proceed indeed in the processes
of consciousness, arranging one concrete content with another,
yet without having a separate consciousness of the unity itself,
except in rare and late abstractions. Now, the question is: What
lies then, universally and a priori at the basis, what
presuppositions must be operative, in order that the particular
concrete procedures in the individual consciousness may actually
be processes of socialization; what elements are contained in
them which make it possible that the product of the elements is,
abstractly expressed, the construction of the individual into a
societary unity? The sociological apriorities will have the same
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