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Is it bad/good to overlap socius with neighbor?
Differences Between Socius and Neighbor in Relationships
As much as we are humans, we are social in nature. For that reason, we interact with others and form relationships in our community. We cannot function well in this life without having some form of connection to other people around us since almost everything in our life necessitates contact with others – education, family life, economics, etc. the necessity of having such connections gives rise to the philosophy of society or social philosophy.
As I study social philosophy, I seek to understand the ultimate reason why I need to make and maintain relationships in society. First and foremost, I learned that there are two basic forms of relationship in social philosophy: 1) socius; and 2) neighbor. The difference between these two relationships is the degree of closeness or contact that a person makes for the relationships to work. Socius, basically speaking, is my relationship to a particular human in a social function. Example, socius is my relationship between me and my teacher because I treat him formally as much as his profession reaches out to my social needs. I have an interpersonal encounter with my teacher when we have classes. On the other hand, a neighbor is a more personal relationship wherein I can trust someone to be there with me. In most cases, people think of this relationship as friendship, familial, or romantic relationship because of the intimacy or direct personal connection of the persons involved in terms of knowing each other to the point of trusting each other for secrets and whatnot.
While it is true that there are occurrences where the relationships of socius and neighbor overlap with each other, I believe that it is not a very good thing to practice because of some harms that you might incur to yourself or to the other individual. For example, I cannot expect a socius relationship of teacher-student interaction to overlap into a neighbor-type such as friendship, familial or romantic connection because the standards of the social function we adhere to does not allow any form of intimate or personal connection. That would be classified as illegitimate, or in worse cases, immoral, resulting to bias, favoritism, harassment, or unlawful association. In most social functions, it degrades the value of objectivity in the function that you are supposed to act upon.
In the same manner, the degree of trust between neighbors, per se, cannot be given equal amount in the socius. The fact that I am privy to my own secrets, and my personal decisions means that I must qualify which part of myself I can show or give to others, based on the degree of the trust involved in the relationship. When socius and neighborly relationships overlap, there is a direct threat to my privacy, to what I consider mine by my own perspective of reality. For example, I treat the landlady of my boarding house as a formal steward. Even if I want to have a personal relationship – i.e. friendship – with her, the fact remains that she is not yet a part of my private sphere of connections. We have not yet spent much time together so I cannot trust her with any of my secrets and the problems I can only tell her are those regarding my stay in the boarding house.
As much as I see and experience social relationships, I believe that trust is the most important factor as to why it is not good to overlap socius with neighbor. You have to trust someone enough to know that he or she will not use any information or knowledge about you to your disadvantage. Most importantly, I firmly believe that it is necessary to observe the limits of social function and personal interactions so that there will no questions on my integrity or that of the other person/s involved in the relationship.