(1) a group of persons regarded as forming a single community, esp. forming a distinct social or economic class.
(2) the system or condition of living together in such a group.
(1) of having to do with human beings living together in a situation or group relation.
The answer is simple. It is beneficial to men that they live together. If man were to be like the tiger with huge canine teeth and sharp claws, living off deer and other miscellaneous organisms, he could have probably afforded to live alone. But the nature of man is that he is born physically weak and remains so till the end of his life.
So, in the evolution of man, when survival depended on who had the bigger teeth or the sharper claws, there was strength in numbers. A fish in a school of fish fares better than the loner fish in a sea of predators.This is not to say that primitive man worked out the pros and cons of living alone and living together and finally came to conclusion to live together and therefore did so. All this was an automatization in the process of evolution.
Society, at its basic level, came to exist when man gave up hunting and foraging as the only means of food gathering. The accumulation of experience of raising crops and harvesting them helped him live on a fixed spot of land instead of moving in search of food.
Since man is a physically weak animal, his survival depends on the use of his mind. And the greatest discovery of philosophy was the discovery of the fact that although man lived together, the tools of his survival were all products of single minds. That, although men lived and existed together, they were able to do so only because of the products of the minds of individuals. The individual is thus the functional unit of society, a thinking mind is the functional unit of society. A mind can be housed only in a single body; ten pairs of hands may move a rock but ten minds cannot function like a single mind.
This discovery that although men's bodies functioned together for common purposes, there could be no collective brain was an intoxicating idea. This idea is found expressed in the philosophical thought of every civilizationPrometheus in Greek civilization, the Atmâ in Hindu philosophy
And it is this same idea which is still in a struggle to find expression to its fullest form. Man is free from physical danger from the elements of nature only as long as he uses the ideas of men or originates ideas on his own. The logical extension of this concept is that although man lives with other men, he is a self-contained self-sustaining primary. That man is an absolute, an end to himself and not a means to anything else is the only logical extension possible to the fact that man's functioning is the functioning of his mind.
From this perspective, the meaning of society becomes clear. Man lives with other men as long as they are willing to trade with him, not take from him, the products of their minds. As a result, everyone stands to gain enormously. Man has access to the wealth of ideas originated by men who lived before him because of his language (oral or written) and he has access to the ideas and the products of the ideas of the men around him because of trade. These are only legitimate forms of interaction open to man in society. And this is the only method wherein there can be no conflict between the individual and group of men with whom he livessociety.
The origin of conflict in the idea of society is minds of men is when they try to violate this principle. For example, while stating that he sees no scope for conflict between the individual and society, Prof. Upadhyaya states that:
"...in reality, society is an entity with its own "SELF", its own life; it is a sovereign being like an individual; it is an organic entity. We have not accepted the view that society is some arbitrary association. It has its own life. Society too has its body, mind, intellect and soul. Some western psychologists are beginning to accept this truth. McDougal has produced a new branch of psychology called group mind. He has accepted that the group has its own mind, its own psychology, its own methods of thinking and action." [emphasis mine]
Here, we can see the crystallization of the opposite of the principle that ideas can originate only in the mind of an individual. Thus we see Prof. Upadhyaya attributing qualities of 'body, mind, intellect and soul' to society. We don't have read in between the lines, he tells it straighthis view of society, without the 'soul-of-the-society' concept, is nothing but that of an "arbitrary association". The most evil and disgusting of such a negation of reality is the concept of a "group mind".
It is such forms of perversions that the altruists have used to hijack the word "society" and absorbed it to make it a part of their vocabulary. It is for these people that there is a fundamental conflict between the individual and society and this is why they go around proclaiming loudly that there is no conflict and try to secretly slink in their actual ideas about society and its relation with the individual into their theories.
Anybody, any ideology, which directly or indirectly or secretly proclaims that "society" is supreme and the individual is only a integral part of society and not a self-contained being is immoral. It is immoral because it fails to recognize or evades the fact of reality that men live together using the products of the minds of men and that they do so only by choice. Such theories are immoral because they want to remain blind to the fact that the mind of man is a functional entity which is self-sufficient.