[Home]EnlightenedIndividualism

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The state that a society or group reaches when it has tried out a community approach and has realized all the fruit which that approach can bring. The society has come to recognize the limitations of community and collaboration, and as a result, has chosen a strongly individualistic approach as a matter of enlightened choice (as opposed to FearfulIndividualism or EconomicIndividualism).

RudyardKipling?'s short stories "AsEasyAsABC?" and "WithTheNightMail?" exemplify this attitude.


Are there other forms of individualism? Perhaps IgnorantIndividualism?, the unlikely case of growing up without awareness of the existence of other humans. I'm not sure that could be justifiably termed individualism, since one would have no choice in the matter.


Does individualism even truly exist? If one were alone on a desert island, it would not be unusual to end up talking to oneself, or talking occasionally to an imaginary presence -- not to mention conversing with God. Moreover, some suggest that the mind is best modeled as a community of individuals that (typically) are in substantial agreement. People who suffer from MultiplePersonalityDisorder?, however, provide fodder for this theory to claim the existence of the CommunityOfTheMind?. Another example would be a person whose brain hemispheres had been separated: they become (in one sense) two identities in one body. So is individualism even possible? -- anon.

I don't believe that RogerSperry? in his split-brain experiments determined that the patient had two personalities. Indeed, I believe he found that the person still acted as if they were one person. You might be referring to alien hand, though. Some patients whose two brain hemispheres had been disconnected (usually to stop whole-brain epileptic seizures) found that their less dominant hand (occasionally) had a "mind of its own." That is, they couldn't control it, but the hand acted with perceived goals and coordination. The (or one possible) implication is that the brain hemispheres are capable of individual thought; however, that is more of a communication failure (of one hemisphere to exert control) than a bona fide separate individual. Also, it has not been shown that MultiplePersonalityDisorder? really does exist.

Now, individualism is difficult. No man is an island. I suppose the term would have lack of contrast (and thus be meaningless) if the subject was not aware of others, as you suggest above with IgnorantIndividualism?. But I don't think you can claim pure individuality in the context of society. -- SunirShah

We can converse with ourselves through another technique: memory. The examples in the previous paragraph suggest spatial separation of participants in the same mind, but by simply employing your memory (or some mnemonic device such as a diary) you can have a one-way conversation with a past self, just as reading a book or wiki is a one-way conversation with the author(s). From my own experience, I've often been surprised (sometimes pleasantly, often unpleasantly) upon re-reading papers I'd written some time before. -- anon.

As a side note, reading wiki can be two-sided, but the conversation is asynchronous. -- SunirShah


"The society has come to recognize the limitations of community and collaboration, and as a result, has chosen a strongly individualistic approach as a matter of enlightened choice"

I'm feeling dense. Does this mean that "enlightened societies" dissolve themselves? I doubt that. I think that there is always a dynamic between community and individual goals... It is more personally optimal to join a community because you can share resources and help each other, but it is also important to maintain yourself.

Guess I phrased that too strongly... I was positing that it was a possible choice of the society to eschew community, but not that it was a logical or feasible choice. I should've stated the result first, and the conditions second. I'll let conversation continue a tad before I re-phrase it. The story AsEasyAsABC? was my introduction to this idea; it made me wonder what conditions would be necessary to bring about such a society, and whether such a society could even function.

How does the concept of PeerPrivilege fit here? -- SunirShah

I think that PeerPrivilege is an apt description for the state of affairs in the short stories mentioned above (confession: I have only read AsEasyAsABC?, though I would like to read WithTheNightMail? if I can get my hands on it. . . should be in the PublicDomain). In that case, since most individuals preferred to pursue their own affairs, there was fairly unanimous consent that the transportation board, ABC, could police the planet and control planetary transportation.

Discussion

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