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Every, society must assign rankings to its members. Among gregarious animals there are orders of status that are fought over. The strongest is the boss.

This also occurs among human beings as, for instance, in street gangs of young people. In general, though, this turns out to be impracticable since more is involved than mere muscle power. Other criteria have to be sought. Heredity plays a special role in traditional societies. The oldest son inherits the farm, the title, and authority. There is wisdom in that since conflicts are avoided. Violence must not be employed to contest decisions that derive from nature itself.

In modern industrial society, with its high degree of division of labor and adaptation to rapid change, the criteria of heredity alone again turn out to be impracticable. The fact that someone is his father's oldest son scarcely guarantees that he is not a fool who will ruin the farm, the firm, or the state. For that reason, the old natural criteria increasingly seem unjust and are being replaced by new and artificial yardsticks.

These latter include the principle of achievement determined through competition. This can be illustrated by way of sport. A stop-watch or tape measure can be used to as- certain beyond question whoever runs fastest or jumps furthest, and whoever is the victor or the champion. It is hardly a matter of chance that competitive sports exert such great fascination.

Wherever the stop-watch and the tape measure are insufficient because intelligence or attributes of character are required for specific tasks, the gap is filled by a test. The development of tests in a diversity of forms and applications, ever more elaborated, is logical since what is required is to separate the suitable from the unsuitable, and to find the right man for the right position.

Anyone who protests and rebels, saying something like, 'The achievement principle is invalid since in reality only success decides', gets entangled in contradictions. Such object- ions only pressurize people into making the criteria even more precise, into improving the initial opportunities for the many over the few and into further perfecting the tests. The "tested" man demonstrates our society's striving towards justice. Is there any alternative? Should we once again give preference to the principle of inheritance, or of membership of church or party?

The problem lies elsewhere. My thesis is that this equitable society where everyone - thanks to tests - gets a suitable position would be a completely inhumane society. After all, what becomes in such a society of people who achieve little - the handicapped, the ill, the failures, the old people? Even the greatest achievers must be filled with fear of not making the grade. We know that some time we will weaken, and that each of us will succumb. Viewed in that way, the many psychological illnesses, depression and aggression and resort to alcohol and drugs are all too understandable.

Material provision is not enough. Even though our society could not have developed and cannot survive without the achievement principle, it also cannot remain in existence on that basis alone. The achievement principle must be complemented and balanced by a counter principle -- the principle of love. That entails an incalculable and infinite value, taking precedence over and above all achievements, being man's due, every man's need.

The principle of love cannot be measured or proved but only believed in. Arguments can be brought forward on its behalf only if there exists a foundation beyond social calculations.

Taken literally, the principle of love is the consideration for the superfluous. In practical terms it appears to achieve nothing, and not to be necessary. If, however, our society is to remain humane or to become humane again, it is indeed the superfluous that turns out to be necessary and absolutely crucial for existence.

  (i)   Why does the author claim that heredity is (a) important in traditional societies, (b) less successful in modern societies ?
  (ii)   Explain in about fifty words why the author comes to the conclusion that 'the "tested" man demonstrates our society's striving towards justice.'
  (iii)   Why does the author consider that an 'equitable society' fails ?
  (iv)   Give the meaning of the following words as they are used in the passage :
      (a)   gregarious   (d)   attributes
      (b)   criteria   (e)   precise
      (c)   impracticable   (f)   complemented
  (v)   In about 150 words, describe what the author says about 'the principle of love'.
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  (i) (a) The writer argues that there is wisdom in assigning authority on grounds of heredity, because conflicts are avoided. Thus in many societies the oldest son inherits and becomes head of the family, irrespective of actual qualifications, that is in traditional societies.
    (b) This system cannot work in modern industrial societies, because labor becomes specialized and flexible in relation to changing tasks. The heredity principle might throw up fools as bosses. Thus, different standards of judgment are required in the appointment of leaders.
  (ii)   One argument advanced in favor of traditionalism against meritocracy is that the test of success is achievement rather than technical qualification in leaders. He implies two things; that leadership quality is not confined to the scions of traditional leadership families and that tests may include leadership tests. Justice lies in this wider spread of opportunity.
  (iii)   The writer thinks that an exclusive meritocracy would fail on humane grounds. It would not help the handicapped or support the failures. He argues for an admixture of achievement and 'love', the 'consideration for the superfluous', as being more realistic and, indeed, kindly, as criteria in making human value judgments.
  (iv) (a) The herd. Animals and humans who live in communities.
    (b) standards of assessments.
    (c) unworkable; cannot be put into effect.
    (d) qualities.
    (e) accurate and detailed.
    (f) completed; taken in conjunction with
  5. The writer argues that although a modern society probably cannot survive without a degree of meritocracy, it must incorporate the 'principle of love.' This is because every member of society, however weak, and for whatever reason, is entitled to due consideration as a human being. In fact man himself is of infinitely more value than any achievements of mankind.

The value of the individual in relation to the society in which he lives cannot be measured. Arguments to prove that value cannot be advanced; the value of the individual is generally realized by everybody and must therefore be accepted. The well-being of society does not depend on material progress alone.

The truth of this depends on a concept of humanity which goes beyond materialism. "Man cannot live by bread alone." Seemingly 'superfluous', and unproductive in material terms, this concept is essential in practice of society is to be humane. ( 150 words )


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Comprehension 1


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