by Isaac Asimov
Foundation Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
A [Seldon]. By saving the knowledge of the race. The sum of human knowing is beyond any one man; any thousand men. With the destruction of our social fabric, science will be broken into a million pieces. […] But, if we now prepare a giant summary of all knowledge, it will never be lost. Coming generations will build on it, and will not have to rediscover it for themselves. (I.6.85)
In a way, a society is the accumulation of all the knowledge in that society. When the knowledge is lost, the society is lost too. Kind of how it's your computer when all your torrented music is on it, but when the data is deleted, it's just another computer. (Just kidding! We know you Shmoopers would never pirate content.)
"I shall not be alive half a decade hence," said Seldon, "and yet it is of overpowering concern to me. Call it idealism. Call it an identification of myself with that mystical generalization to which we refer by the term, 'humanity.'" (I.7.9)
Seldon's concern comes from his connection with society, not humanity. Even a barbarous society is still a part of humanity, so even though he says "humanity," he's really doing everything he can to prevent the loss of society.
"We are not part of the Prefect of Anacreon or of any other prefect. Memorize that! We are part of the Emperor's personal domain, and no one touches us. The Empire can protect its own." (II.1.21)
Societies are supposed to protect their people. That's part of what they're for. But what happens when societies are split? Now that can be a problem.