Social Status
Sarah Kahn

21 September 2017
Ever thought social status could be understood through a philosophical lens? Kevin Simmler, engineer and philosophical blogger, thinks so. In the spirit of French computer scientist Jean-Louis Desalles’ scholarly work, Simmler claims that underpinning social status is dominance and prestige. Built into the notion of prestige is the idea of admiration, or how we curry favor with people we respect.
Note that Dessalles’ theory of prestige actually stipulates that admiration and prestige-seeking are two “complementary teaming instincts”. This means that these two qualities are part of our automatic response system that dictates how one joins up with a team and how one convinces the team of one’s acceptance, how to attract other members to the team, etc. Admiration fosters camaraderie in the sense that by admiring a prestigious individual, we “earn a spot on their team” so-to-speak.
Does Desalles’ philosophical story of social status make sense? If he does not have it right, what do you think gives rise to, or otherwise sheds light on, social status?

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