What purpose in the field of evolutionary biology does the loner serve?
If human society can be seen not as a group on individual organisms, but as one massive organism where all of the parts work together towards one goal, the loner seems to be outside of that goal. The loner slinks around on the outside of the world, avoiding human contact and shunning interaction.
It would seem that the loner does not belong in the system, as if the loner is the appendix of the human organism.
Perhaps the loner is the appendix of the human organism. In an earlier time the loner served the purpose of being the scout on the outside of the main body of society. If there was an external threat the loner was the most edgeward of the members of the society and was there to raise the alarm so the rest of the rank and file could then group to defend the society.
Since then the advancements of society has replaced the scouts with other means of early warning, and the scout is no longer as necessary.
But perhaps, as all things has a tendency to do, the purpose of the loner can evolve as well.
In the society of today perhaps the loner has the advantage of being able to look at the ways that society works, or fails to work, from a different viewpoint. We can watch from the edge how things are proceeding on the interior and raise the alarm when all things start to go askew.
Perhaps it is in the fields of science where this is most evident as massive groups work together building a consensus, but it takes the loners on the fringe to occasionally keep things in check.
I think we should have a discussion on this, it is only the beginning of a theory, and I am a geologist not a social scientist or a biologist. Thankfully my co-blogger is a biologist (Meagan, where are you), perhaps she can add more to this thought.