Social Archetype

Animals so successfully embodied the Archetype of Doing Things that they permeated every accessible nook and cranny with some evolutionary tactic of doing. The way to gain a strategic advantage in this competitive environment was to work cooperatively as a group. Organized group actions can ultimately eclipse any genetically conferred trait. When 65 million years ago, a meteor profoundly disrupted the order of things animals that functioned as a social unit (Mammals) were able to apply cooperative actions to attain dominance. This transition had such a profound effect on the natural order as well as foundationally on our species living mammalian experience, that it is elevated here to the level of an archetype – the Social Archetype. In this Archetype, we express our presence, or Being through our social connections – our identity is our place in our social units (family, friends, tribe).

e Pluribus Unum: Out of many, one
Issues resulting from conflict over shared resources can be viewed as a tension between the Doing and the Social Archetypes. In the Doing Archetype, self-interest is defined solely by what action will provide the most significant benefit for oneself. Whereas, in the Social Archetype, self-interest is determined by what action will deliver the most significant benefit for one’s social unit, thereby indirectly providing the greatest self-benefit. This indirect benefit refines Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” to the survival of the fittest social unit, which can significantly exceed anything individually attainable.

Group actions are guided by much more complex neurological processes that need inhibition of our more primitive reflexes, drives, and instincts. This conflict is known as “The Tragedy of the Commons.” It is this writer’s view that the perspectives of the Doing and Social Archetypes assist in the clarification of issues relating to tension in the allocation of community resources. An extreme example of this tension are issues relating to climate, where short term goals that are driven by self-interest conflict with the long term, and less immediate and apparent goal of sustaining a habitable planet, both for ourselves and our mammalian cousins.


The strategic advantage afforded to those Vertebrates that figured out how to work as a team enabled an insurmountable synergistic advantage over those that had not evolved this ability. The transformations of structure and function facilitating multi-unit actions were based on utilizing the dimensional space surrounding these units – the horizontal plane. Utilizing the horizontal plane required more sophisticated auditory processing, structural adaptations, and the evolution of cognitive abilities that defined the Mammals that are our ancestors and eventually led to our advanced awareness of our social setting. The mutations that distinguish Mammals from their vertebrate antecedents are numerous, and they are discussed further here:
Complex Auditory Processing is a key trait of mammals. Continually maintaining an understanding of the surrounding horizontal space is crucial for group-based actions. The evolution of mammalian neurophysiology could not have advanced without the emergence of this sensory system. Discussion of this here:

A primary benefit of socially organized actions is specialization. Some members of the group can do one thing (nurture young, prepare or store food, etc.) while other members do other things (watch for threats, hunt). The limitation of these specializations for almost all species is the amount of variability that can be encoded genetically. Our species broke from free from this limitation when we evolved our forelegs into a configuration that enables tool use, thereby vastly increasing the range of accessible specializations to that which is limited only by the tools we can make. This is discussed further in the section on the:
Our species ability to use tools has, over ten or so millennia, resulted in the built world surrounding most of us. There is some discussion of this here:

Complex social interactions are required to facilitate specialization. The individual “cogs” need to know how/when to turn in the gear. Although many mammals demonstrate attributes of social engagement, our species has excelled at pushing the boundary of communication. Further discussion on social engagement here:
These complex skills are learned responses that integrate the underlying neurological substrate and the conditions of the surroundings into a set of functional responses. This configuration enables a broad spectrum of adaptation, far beyond that which could be genetically encoded. Play is the mechanism by which this learning occurs:

The special case of being in which protective mechanisms are triggered, as it relates to the Social Archetype, is discussed in the section on:
The key dynamic is the delegation of vigilance, which enables the core of the social group to function within an experience/emotion which we call Safety. Delegating vigilance for threat is a specialization only available within a group dynamic, where some members are vigilant for the whole group.


As species become more specialized, Archetypes facilitating those specializations can be observed. The Archetypes discussed below are those which are also specific to our lineage, becoming incrementally more focused on the peculiarities of our species as we diverged towards our unique niche from our common ancestor:
an overview of the qualities of archetypes:

Archetypes are elemental qualities that express both in the anatomical structure, and the forms creatures embody to interact with their surroundings.
The Structures associated with the Social Archetype are discussed in the section on the:
The Forms associated with the Social Archetype are discussed in the sections on:

Discussion of the attributes of a Living Thing, in the context of the emergence of our species, is facilitated by finding perspectives from which these attributes cohere into a framework within which the attributes form relationships. The frameworks discussed on this website can be found here: