Essay on individualism and collectivism


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The social currents in a society are one of the most basic characteristics of society, but at the same time, they might not have the durability and stability that some parts of collective consciousness or collective representation have. It seems, however, that Durkheim viewed suicide rates as a collective phenomenon. Giddens explains the use of 'conscience collective' by Durkheim as a metaphor for the cultural inheritance that has been evolved in the social respects and one that forms the basis of everybody's experiences.

This gives us very insightful ideas as to what would become of the society if everyone was allowed to freely express him or herself. A government and its laws are therefore very important for a society to function in a respectable manner. If the people are left to do what they please then there is no limit to the havoc that they might cause. Thus, even in a democratic environment, the full authority is never given to the public but the public chooses their representatives that are there to govern their actions.

According to Locke, it should be the other way around and the public should be left to do what ever they please and the government should only be there to overlook all that.

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Durkheim, however, draws that there exists a very significant consequence that emanates from a democratic system. He believes that the social lives of people take on a very conscious and directed character. The cooperation of the public and the government is what creates the conscience collective and the government must maintain a good living environment for the public in order to achieve a worthwhile social atmosphere. Thus the government is a very necessary part of the social affairs of the public.

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Some of the thoughts that people exhibit do become part of the social norms but the work of the government is to filter out many of these thoughts so that only the good ones turn out to become the values of the society. If the people were not monitored and controlled, there could be an influx of many undesirable values within a society, and a destruction of collectivism. Friedrich von Hayek wrote the book The Road to Serfdom in and this book predicted how the world would be like in the next 50 years of so.

This book basically talks about the destruction of the socialist movement all over the world following the Second World War and why this was the only thing that the world could witness and undergo in the post war scenario. Why do these questions arise? Why do we need to answer them? Such questions arise and need to be answered only because individuals exist and need principled guidance about how to live and prosper.

We are not born knowing how to survive and achieve happiness, nor do we gain such knowledge automatically, nor, if we do gain it, do we act on such knowledge automatically. As evidence, observe the countless miserable people in the world. If we want to live and prosper, we need principled guidance toward that end. Ethics is the branch of philosophy dedicated to providing such guidance. For instance, a proper morality says to the individual: Go by reason as against faith or feelings —look at reality, identify the nature of things, make causal connections, use logic—because reason is your only means of knowledge, and thus your only means of choosing and achieving life-serving goals and values.

Morality further provides guidance for dealing specifically with people. For instance, it says: Be just —judge people rationally, according to the available and relevant facts, and treat them accordingly, as they deserve to be treated—because this policy is crucial to establishing and maintaining good relationships and to avoiding, ending, or managing bad ones.

Collectivism Essay Examples

By means of such guidance and the foregoing is just a brief indication , morality enables the individual to live and thrive. And that is precisely the purpose of moral guidance: to help the individual choose and achieve life-serving goals and values, such as an education, a career, recreational activities, friendships, and romance. The purpose of morality is, as the great individualist Ayn Rand put it, to teach you to enjoy yourself and live.

Just as the individual, not the group, is metaphysically real—and just as the individual, not the collective, has a mind and thinks—so too the individual, not the community or society, is the fundamental unit of moral concern. The individual is morally an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others. Each individual should pursue his life-serving values and respect the rights of others to do the same. This is the morality that flows from the metaphysics and epistemology of individualism.

What morality flows from the metaphysics and epistemology of collectivism?


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Just what you would expect: a morality in which the collective is the basic unit of moral concern. In a civilized society man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. And so that society may not perish, so that it may reach a still higher plane, so that men and women may become better citizens, society permits them certain privileges and restricts them in the use of others.

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Sometimes in the exercise of this power the individual is put to a great deal of inconvenience, even, at times, he suffers what appears to be injustice. This is to be regretted, but it is inevitable. The aim of civilized society is to do the greatest good to the greatest number, and because the largest number may derive benefit from the largest good the individual must subordinate his own desires or inclinations for the benefit of all.

Because Mr. This slogan has no concrete, specific meaning. There is no way to interpret it benevolently, but a great many ways in which it can be used to justify the most vicious actions. None, except: whatever is good for the greatest number.


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Who, in any particular issue, decides what is good for the greatest number? Why, the greatest number. If you consider this moral, you would have to approve of the following examples, which are exact applications of this slogan in practice: fifty-one percent of humanity enslaving the other forty-nine; nine hungry cannibals eating the tenth one; a lynching mob murdering a man whom they consider dangerous to the community. There were seventy million Germans in Germany and six hundred thousand Jews. The greatest number the Germans supported the Nazi government which told them that their greatest good would be served by exterminating the smaller number the Jews and grabbing their property.

This was the horror achieved in practice by a vicious slogan accepted in theory. But, you might say, the majority in all these examples did not achieve any real good for itself either?


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The collectivist notion of morality is patently evil and demonstrably false. Any attempt to turn the purpose of morality against the individual—the fundamental unit of human reality and thus of moral concern—is not merely a moral crime; it is an attempt to annihilate morality as such. To be sure, societies—consisting as they do of individuals—need moral principles, too, but only for the purpose of enabling individuals to act in ways necessary to sustain and further their own lives.

Thus, the one moral principle that a society must embrace if it is to be a civilized society is the principle of individual rights: the recognition of the fact that each individual is morally an end in himself and has a moral prerogative to act on his judgment for his own sake, free from coercion by others. The politics of individualism is essentially what the American Founders had in mind when they created the United States but were unable to implement perfectly: a land of liberty, a society in which the government does only one thing and does it well—protects the rights of all individuals equally by banning the use of physical force from social relationships and by using force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.

In such a society, government uses force as necessary against thieves, extortionists, murderers, rapists, terrorists, and the like—but it leaves peaceful, rights-respecting citizens completely free to live their lives and pursue their happiness in accordance with their own judgment.

Individualistic and Collectivist Cultures

Toward that end, a proper, rights-respecting government consists of legislatures, courts, police, a military, and any other branches and departments necessary to the protection of individual rights. This is the essence of the politics of individualism, which follows logically from the metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics of individualism. This, historically, is the moral basis of liberal governance—not justice, not equality, not rights, not diversity, not government, and not even prosperity or opportunity.

Liberal governance is about demanding of citizens that they balance self-interest with common interest. This is the only justification leaders can make to citizens for liberal governance, really: That all are being asked to contribute to a project larger than themselves. So growing in this environment I have learned to share not only with brother and sisters but sometimes cousins. The traditional views of individualism and collectivism suggest that Eastern countries will exhibit collectivistic tendencies while Western countries will exhibit individualistic tendencies Parker R.

According Sen L. Being raised in a collectivist environment, the transition at UGA was a bit complicated. Many of my friends at UGA were born and raised in Georgia; some of them have a different way of approaching this subject. For example one of them had a total different situation than mine.

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He has 2 sisters and was told by his parents that if they each get something each of them have the right not to share. Since both individualist and collectivist orientations may coexist within the two cultures, it is practically impossible to say that everyone in western countries is an individualist or that everyone in eastern countries and Africa is a collectivist.

As a within the communities it might be possible. For example most of the time in my country if someone is getting married everyone is pretty much invited.

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