Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 12/09/2013 - 11:02am.
Individuality and society is the title of a fine, but hard to find article (1981) by the Polish sociologist Jan Szczepanski (1913-2004). Here I want very briefly to state what increasingly seems to me clear and crucially important (and of which I think Szczepanski would probably approve).
The distinction between individuality and individualism. Individualism is wanting to be different just to be different. Individualism also tends to be greedy: Each individual strives to get as big a slice of the social pie as he or she can (generally with the result that others get less). Individuality, on the other hand, is the flourishing of a person's creativity. Each new idea is genuinely unique ("individual"), because nobody else has ever had it. Individuality is generous: A person wants to share his or her new idea with others. One person having a new idea takes nothing away from anyone else. Even better: Each new idea increases the size of the social pie, so that there is more for everyone.
Szczepanski sees capitalist America as a model of individualism, where everybody competes to get more for him or her self ("selfishness"). Most societies throughout history, in contrast, have subordinated the individual to the group ("altruism"/"collectivism"). Either the individual wins and society loses (the U.S.A.) or society wins and the individual loses (e.g., the so-called Communist countries at the time Szczepanski was writing).
Szczepanski argues that a society based on individuality: each individual's unique creativity, is a third way, in which both the individual and the group can win. He observes that such a society has never yet existed, and may seem impossible. But he believes such a new form of social organization in which each individual's creative uniqueness is nurtured, could solve the dilemma of respecting the individual without giving rise to the socially disintegrative dynamics of individualism; it would thus preserve the good and eliminate the bad parts of both individualistic and altruistic/collectivist ways. Szczepanski concludes his article by stating his belief that such a society based on individuality not only is possible, but that we must transform our present societies, both individualistic and altruistic/collectivist -- both capitalistic and communistic --, into this unprecedented synergistic form if our civilization is to survive.
Individuality can only grow out of society. In its most rudimentary form, this is obvious from the fact that an infant must be nurtured by others or the infant will die. Beyond this, all the diverse variations of individuation depend on education and a supportive environment.
Submitted by Tom Last on Fri, 11/29/2013 - 12:05pm.
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Submitted by Tom Last on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 5:28pm.
Ethical Question: What would you do about nuclear weapons in the Middle East?
Currently, Israel has almost all of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Mideast and is the only country that has nuclear weapons. Israel is the only Mideast nation that has not signed the 1979 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which encourages nuclear disarmament.
Iran has felt threatened by Israel's stockpile of WMD. Iran has been suspected of developing their own nuke for self-defense.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Has threatened to attack Iran to prevent them from attaining nuclear weapons.
New Iran president Hassan Rouhani: Supports a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Mideast saying no nation should possess nuclear weapons.
Universal concepts: An ethical individualist tries to be fair and remove bias from their thinking by putting a particular situation into universal concepts. So rather than naming countries I am using Country A and B.
Country A has a large stock pile of weapons. Country A has threatened to attack Country B. Country B tries to attain more weapons as self-defense to deter an attack from country A.
An ethical individualist will also select an ethical principle they want to apply to the situation. The ethical principle I am selecting is to avoid a double standard. A double standard can be described as a biased or one-sided application of ethical principles, where one party is favored over the other.
Ethical Principle: avoid a double-standard
I see three obvious options:
1. Country B has a right to defend itself by having nuclear weapons as a deterrence.
2. Country B should be prevented from having nuclear weapons.
3. Pressure should be applied to both countries to not have nuclear weapons.
I agree with Iran president Hassan Rouhani that the Mideast should be a nuclear free zone. To avoid a double-standard the world should apply the appropriate pressure to both Israel and Iran to bring this about.
Submitted by Tom Last on Thu, 08/15/2013 - 2:37pm.
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Submitted by Tom Last on Fri, 07/12/2013 - 9:28am.
Each of the first 7 chapters of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom emphasizes a part of the process of cognition.
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