Saturday, December 23, 2006

Individualism In Its True Light

Individualism is the position that holds that individuals (rather than society) responsible for their own good. The basic claim is that Reason is an individualistic property. No person can think for another; thought is an attribute of the individual. Since cognitive rationality implies that every cognitive unit seeks its own good, and since the individual is a cognitive unit, then the individuals seek their own good.

The opposite view of individualism is collectivism. Collectivism views the society as a responsible unit for its own good. Collectivism does not hold individuals accountable for the choices they make. Failing to save for retirement, having children one can't afford, making bad investments, becoming addicted to drugs or smoking --- These actions are called "social problems" that "society" has to deal with. On the other hand, individualism holds the individual responsible for their actions, and hence entitled for the consequences of those choices; The individual has the right to enjoy good outcomes, and the responsibility to suffer bad outcomes.

In this view, it is evident why individualists are not so keen to implement compulsory "safety-net", where individuals are required to provide help to those who made bad choices in their lives. Nonetheless, opt-in safety-nets might still be viable.

One of the common misconceptions about individualism is the concept of a loner. Social isolation is by no means synonymous with individualism. Individualism is a philosophy of how one person perceives their relations with other peers, and their role in their social group. An individual perceives each person based on their own merit rather than the collective value of the social group, and sees their relationship with their society as give-and-take compromise, rather than an altruistic duty.

Finally, it is important to note the high resemblance between Capitalism as an economic philosophy and Individualism, as Capitalism views the person responsible for their financial and social status.

PS: Based on this article [recommended-read]


No_Angel said...

thanks for the article, tho it would have been nice to include ur 2 cents rather than paraphrase it (ya i liked how u changed political to economical philosophy of capitalism)

Tala said...

i enjoyed the post a lot, the article as well, individualism thoughts are very appealing in the provided text,, but at the end of the day, i believe that the prime mover is collectivism since its a balance between the individual need and the society need, defining the society need as its right to be considered and taken care of since its a beneficial ad primary resource for the individual need knowing that the society is a collection of individuals.

Devil's Mind said...

No_angel, I recognize your concern. This post had the purpose of directing my reader's attention to the original article, rather than present new material.

Nonetheless, maybe you can as a reader and a commenter add your own insight. You can through your comments make up for the deficiencies of my articles.

In fact, I cannot make really good articles all by myself. Your contribution as readers IS what makes a really good article.