D e f in it io n s o f human relationships 1 occur only in the living experiences of individuals functioning in roles ap propriate to their biological grouping (sex, age) and to social adequacy acquired by growth and training. Around the clarifications of these functional and biological differences for each human being occur the most significant events of individual and group living. The comparisons, imitations, rivalries, satisfactions, and disappointments constitute the drama of humans living together and finding the means to maintain their individual status in a world of others. The interrelation between the big and the little, the young and the old, the male and female invests these universal descrip tions of difference with dynamic significance for every hu man being. The child in adapting to these evidences of dif ference defines and gives meaning to his own individual role which he lives in relationships with others. In the process of defining this role each individual, whether child or adult, becomes an integral influence in defining the roles of others who complete his social setting. (In Chapter X I have used
a passage from Thomas Mann’s Joseph in Egypt to illumi nate this point.)
Malinowski emphasizes “the impossibility of envisaging any form of social organization without the family struc ture.” 2 This is the indispensable unit of all social organiza tion throughout the history of man. The family gains this dynamic significance for human nature because, in its func tioning, a setting is provided for the definition and conserva tion of human difference and is given objective form in the different but related roles of father-mother-child, the basic roles in any culture. Biological factors provide the frame work in which an individual functions in a role, but cultural influences in the form of law, taboos, rituals, and customthe precipitates of human experience-give direction and meaning to the emerging self. The universal interplay be tween the biological and cultural forces gives the individual a sense of his own uniqueness. Thus man becomes not merely a recapitulation of the past, but creator of a new force that gives meaning and form to the ever new in life.