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Individualism - Part II

Some of the concepts and notions within individualism include:

 

  • The individual is the level of existence which matters.  Creation was made for man's use in fulfilling his purpose, and we are to exercise stewardship in its use.
    • We were all created with the same innate nature, and share the same kinship.  Therefore, we all share an equality of that nature.
    • Rule can be by the one, a few, or many.  However, the power t orule is to be subservient to our Creator's Law and governance.  Power under this approach is more likely to be limited and dispersed, and to come from the people who are to be ruled.
  • We have divine rights which come from our Creator, through divine and natural law.  Other rights can come from the people itself, but these should be aligned with our divine rights.
    • Human law exists only to promote the common good, and at the very least should not contradict divine or natural law.
  • Individuals are called to be a 'people'.  For a people to exist there must be both a mutual recognition of rights and a mutual cooperation for the common good.
  • Citizenship belongs to all those who choose to be within the people.
  • Virtue, morality, education, and religion are cornerstones of individualism.
    • Virtue is required in order to individuals to make sound choices.  Clement stated that while we are not born with virtues, we are surely made to acquire them.
    • Applying effort and reason to acquire knowledgeeducationis needed to acquire virtue.
    • Religion provides the morale basis to encourage virtue's development.

 

There are at least two further distinctions between collectivism and individualism which must be considered.  The first concerns emotion versus reason.  This is captured by Milton Friedman who wrote, ‘The argument for collectivism is simple if false; it is an immediate emotional argument.  The argument for individualism is subtle and sophisticated; it is an indirect rational argument.  And the emotional faculties are more highly developed in most men than the rational, paradoxically or especially even in those who regard themselves as intellectuals.’ 

 

The second concerns the means and the ends.  Also from Friedman, ‘Unfortunately, the relation between the ends and the means remains widely misunderstood.  Many of those who profess the most individualistic objectives support collectivist means without recognizing the contradiction.  It is tempting to believe that social evils arise from the activities of evil men and that if only good men (like ourselves, naturally) wielded power, all would be well.  That view requires only emotion and self-praise—easy to come by and satisfying as well.  To understand why it is that ‘good’ men in positions of power will produce evil, while the ordinary man without power but able to engage in voluntary cooperation with his neighbors will produce good, requires analysis and thought, subordinating the emotions to the rational faculty.’  Perhaps this explains why party politics is so prevalent in our society.

 

If the above are true, then individualism cannot be successfully maintained without education, nor can collectivist means be used to obtain individualistic ends.  Education was cited by both Plato and Aristotle as being critical to their view of the world as well.  That is where we will start the discussions.

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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.