Lip service is always paid to our species being composed of social animals. We are well aware that without cultural learning we would be not only worse off than any savage, but also worse off than most animals and quite probably dead. It is uncertain, for example, if we can even think without use of language.

A baby is genetically constructed to be able to learn. Adults have little trouble learning even more. All it requires is the cultural package which is always much the same in type even as it varies in specific content. Then the individual fits into its place and all is well _ usually.

Lately, it turns out that there is more to it. Epigenetics shows that just as certain steps at certain times must be properly taken as the baby is being formed, so certain stimuli and actions are required at certain times if a child is to be able to become a normal adult. All, for humans, supplied by society.

The most striking outcome, however, is that once basic social features and language and so on have been imprinted, each of us becomes our own complete society, carrying a full complement of voices internally. Once grown, people may become happily solitary, yet still remain sane, and even fully independent of others.

That might be a sad development. Nevertheless, without our social experiences at the proper time, no odd old hermit would ever exist.

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