Nowadays, when we look around us, we certainly think that we, Humans are special and completely different from other living beings on the planet but what exactly is it that makes us different than animals, most people will say it’s our brain but if you think deep enough then you will realize that talking about brain have far wider scope than you think, then what is that particular thing that makes us different or in other words what was the thing that took Humans from small tribes(initially like animals) to form villages, cities and even empires and work in coordination.
Firstly I want to say two things so we will be on same page:
1. When I say humans then I mean Homo Sapiens(duh!, I know but just to being cautious)
2. Read it completely with open mind before making any picture.
Secondly I want you to get familiar with something called DUNBAR'S NUMBER, now what is it?
This number was first proposed by anthropologist Robin Dunbar in 1990's, By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships. Dunbar explained it informally as "the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar. Now later it has been proposed to lie between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150.(and I'll also take it 150 to avoid confusion)
Now if you think about it then you will realize that the people used to live in tribal sizes around 150 in numbers because in those times tribes were like extended families and they can't trust strangers to live with, so there shouldn't have any cities or empires and hence no big progress that we see today. But as we can see it isn't true at all. Then what was it that changed course of history and we saw great empires and all the progress we see today.
Okay, I'm going to say the magic word : "Fiction" or "Stories".
Now what happened is that we have this mysterious ability to think about things that doesn't even exist and it helped us tremendously. We started creating stories and then stories get bigger and bigger and get passed to generations and people started to believe in them and in today's understanding we can say them religion, but don't think that it happened directly, of course not!
'''Now it may offend some people but I'm not trying to offend anyone.'''
First it was something like animism and then polytheistic religions and dualism then monotheism etc., now I’m not saying it was all religion but their was other fictional stories in different forms and then they finally took some form after evolving and I’m using the word religion for that overall picture of stories so you can understand it easily.
It is discussed in books of Yuval Noah Harari (great historian) and you can read about all these beliefs there if you want to know more about them or you can prefer some other books. Probably I’ll discuss them some other day.
Now fiction helped us to work in coordination in far bigger numbers than 150 because now when two strangers believe in same stories then they are more likely to trust each other and work with each other than two totally strangers. You can compare it with the analogy of corporation, in initial stages, I mean startups, people know everyone they work with but when it takes the form of big corporation they have to work by creating rules and culture and it is not possible to know each other personally in that case for everyone.
And these stories got bigger and our belief system also become stable on them after generations and those things helped empires to make laws and make people to actually follow them. Why people will follow king? Because now people believe that king is representative of some bigger invisible power and the laws made by him or queen are right and just.
Now this was all history but is it significant even today or we have passed that time. The answer is big NO!
The Dunbar’s number is also true today and we can’t coordinate without fiction even today. Some people may think that religions are myths and there are no Gods in the universe and what they believe today are realities like HUMANITY, NATIONS, GOVERNMENTS, IDEOLOGIES but sorry to burst your own little world of fiction, these things are also completely myths that we have created to work in modern times for coordination.
I'll discuss some of them here today to make my point more clear, like we all believe in equality(most of us) and think that we all are created equal and inequality is a myth but if you think logically then you'll realize that it is not true we all are different, our DNAs are different, our thoughts are different then how will you prove that equality is reality unless you say God made us equal but then you go from one myth to another, so there is no equality without believing in some form of myth.
Now coming to nations, they exist in the mind of people, we believe in certain principles and the way of living with some collective myths and that is the reality we imagined for ourselves, so it can be called an imagined reality and people believe in this form of myth(imagined reality) that’s why they die on borders of their nations believing that they will go to heaven. Again I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong.
Now coming to laws(constitutions of nations) they are also a form of myths,more appropriately you can say a “legal myth”, we believe that certain law exist because of faith in the government(another myth) and follow them. If the parliament passes some bill and make some things illegal which were legal in the past but from now they are illegal because we believe they are illegal.
They are not objective realities.These all are inter-subjective realities( inter subjective realities are those in which big number of people believe simultaneously but they are fabricated by the minds of people), that we have created around ourselves and follow them. Our myths are different but it doesn’t mean that they all are equally beneficial or harmful for the people. Some myths in certain forms do good for the people like believing in equality and some may be harmful in certain forms in certain time periods.
Now you can say that we have created a trap for ourselves and that is true and there is no going back(I know it doesn't sound pleasing). Now it's getting longer so I'll end it here and expand these ideas some other time.
I hope you’ve read it with open mind and logic to understand the core idea that I want to convey.