individual vs collective

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Waechter418
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individual vs collective

Post by Waechter418 » November 7th, 2020, 4:47 pm

Collectives are innately against the individual (Lat. undivided). The “individuals” propagated by their psychologists, philosophers, media, influencers & consumer strategists are actors who lure with the lie that Selfrealisation may be achieved in a collective.

The relationships of the members of collectives are largely parasitic, and increase with the complexity of a collective, which manifests in the growing numbers of laws with which it tries to regulate its parasitic interdependencies and the mutual devouring of its subjects.

Collectives are bound by the emotions of their members. Simple collectives evoke them with demons and taboos, stimulate them with gods of revenge and sacrifices, and refresh them with recycling religions. In more complex collectives, like those of the Occident, emotions are being taken care of by the media responsible for advertisements, fashions, entertainments, the personality designs of their members, their manner of conduct and communication and, last not least, the fomenting of the emotions which support the ideologies and politics of their rulers.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Greta » November 7th, 2020, 8:53 pm

My impression is that individualism and collectivism are features in all societies. The balance between individualism and collectivism, varies both between and within all societies, and the balance constantly changes somewhat over time.

A certain level of collectivism is needed for survival. Otherwise societies break up, which effectively means surrendering to more cohesive societies (not mentioning names, USA). This has been the case throughout history - more cohesive societies have always taken over less cohesive, ie. weaker societies.

On the other hand, a certain level of individualism is also needed for a society's survival. Creativity dries up when everyone follows the party line. This leaves such stagnating societies with two choices - to allow more individualism or to steal innovation from freer societies (not mentioning names, China).

New boundaries are being redrawn in this chaotic time. No, not secularism v theism or men v women. The growing division is between multinational corporations and everyone else. The former have enjoyed exponential growth while everyone else has stagnated or gone backwards.

If we did not already live in an oligarchy, we surely are heading that way. What does individualism and collectivism mean when one is effectively ruled by feudal lords? That will depend on how much they care. With automation, thee "lords" will have ever less need for the masses. As wealth concentrates at the top, one would expect multinationals to increasingly focus on B2B transactions, because that is where much of the wealth will increasingly reside.

The future of for masses - individuals and small business - seems reminiscent of Orwell's 'proles', or perhaps those living on Huxley's 'reservations'. That is, the future of the masses appears to be one where the top players simply don't care and leave the people to create their own systems.

There, in these reduced societies without the "gods of industry" it seems quite possible that theocracies could triumph. Religions have a stronger focus on collectivism than any other group, and it's easy to imagine them forming dominant blocs that would then fight for dominance, eg. Catholic vs Pentecostal vs Muslim.

It would be a case of back to the future, so to speak, except that God will increasingly be replaced by the untouchable "gods of industry" who will be busy with their own agendas. We can see the trend today, with the outgoing POTUS being worshipped as if he was a deity by millions of people. It's very strange to see.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by GE Morton » November 7th, 2020, 10:24 pm

Greta wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 8:53 pm
My impression is that individualism and collectivism are features in all societies. The balance between individualism and collectivism, varies both between and within all societies, and the balance constantly changes somewhat over time.
That is essentially true, but there is some terminological confusion going on here. Modern, civilized societies are not collectives (though there are many collectives within them). They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who have no natural bonds, no shared personal histories, no common interests, and no a priori obligations to one another. It's members are all individualized, by virtue of inherent differences in natural endowments and exposure to an infinite (practically speaking) variety of social and environmental influences.

I posted this in another thread a while back:

------------------
A fundamental choice when constructing any social theory is that between two different sociological assumptions, which we can call atomism and organicism. It is an assumption concerning the nature of the relationship between the individual and the society of which he is a member. If you go wrong at this point, you end up with a theory that is irrelevant, that describes (or prescribes) a society that does not (and perhaps cannot) exist.

Homo sapiens, if the anthropologists are right, has been on Earth for about 200,000 years. Until the last 10,000 or so of those years, he lived in small tribal villages, consisting of a few dozen to a few hundred members — small enough that all of its members knew all of the others; indeed, had known each other all of their lives. They midwifed one another’s births, tended one another’s illnesses, shared one another’s possessions, and married one another’s cousins. They knew and trusted one another, and had dense, intimate relationships among one another. They needed no formal ethics nor any political structure to govern their affairs, simply because each was and had always been a part of every other’s life.

The organic model is a good approximation of the structure of such societies. But with the rise of civilization — societies characterized by cities — that model began to break down. People found themselves living in communities in which most of the people around them were strangers, with whom they had no familial or other personal ties, and often very little in common. People began to take notice of the differences among them — differences in coloration and bone structure, in choices of dress, in temperament and mannerisms, in interests and tastes, in the habits and practices of daily life, and eventually even in religion and language. They acquired individuality.

In tribal societies there is no free will, and no individuality. All the myriad choices we today are constantly obliged to make are prescribed by the tribe; they’re part of the tribal consciousness, codified in tribal tradition, the “folkways” of the tribe. How one dresses, what one eats, where one lives, how one earns a living, the choosing of mates, the Gods to be worshipped and the rituals for worshipping them, all the petty rules governing the tasks of daily life and the “standard methods” for performing them, are absorbed from the tribe, without question and without the need for thought.

There is no individuality to speak of in these groups because all members have known and interacted only with each other since birth, and they are locked into a resonance. There is no politics, no debate, no alternate point of view on any matter — and as a result, almost no innovation. Tribal cultures can remain all but static for thousands of years, with only a slight refinement in spear points to indicate any time has passed at all. Australian Aborigines, for example, when encountered by Europeans in the 18th century, were making didgeridoos indistinguishable from those made 2000 years earlier. In 40,000 years they never added another instrument to their musical technology.

That resonance, however, cannot be maintained in larger groups, because the required intimacy is impossible. The group becomes too large for everyone to know and interact constantly with everyone else; hence one soon finds oneself in the company of strangers — individuals with whom they’ve had no prior contact and whose habits, preferences, and beliefs cannot be predicted in advance. And because they’ve all been subject to different combinations of influences, they begin to differ in all the ways indicated above.

The breakdown of that resonance represented a huge transformation, not merely of the social structure, but of the human psyche. The traditional tribal control mechanisms, based on age and personal stature, gave way to formal systems of governance — politics. The tribesman’s intuitive sense of right and wrong, which derived primarily from his personal ties to and commonality with his fellows, gave way to formal systems of ethics. Indeed, ethics, like law, is a code for regulating behavior among strangers — among people who have no personal interest in one another’s welfare. As Jared Diamond pointed out in Guns, Germs, and Steel, “With the rise of chiefdoms around 7,500 years ago, people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without attempting to kill them.”

Every utopia conceived in the last 5000 years has been an attempt to recapture the tribal consciousness. The Garden of Eden story embodies this “fall from Grace” — the loss of mankind’s oneness with God and Nature, his “alienation,” his exile into a world of strife and temptation, where he seems to have free will and must constantly choose between good and evil, between this course of action or that, relying only on his own judgement, and must suffer the consequences when his judgments go awry.

All these laments of lost innocence and alienation are atavisms, psychic echoes of our tribal heritage, the social form honed over the course of our 3 million year primate history. All of our fellow primates still practice that form, and until the rise of civilization, so did all humans. It would be surprising were our brains not adapted to that social form. They have evolved syncronously with that form, and thus may be expected to function optimally in that environment, in many ways. So it is not surprising that we miss that form, or that we long to regain it. We are ducks out of water, trying to find our way back to the pond.

We remain “wired” for tribal life. We long for it, unattainable though it may be. And often we try to recreate or or substitute for it, by immersing ourselves in cults or joining in totalitarian movements. The cult seeks to insulate itself from the “society of strangers;” the totalitarian movement seeks to subdue it and impose a tribal-like conformity, a synthetic common identity and purpose — usually resulting in much bloodshed.

But civilized humans are individuated; they are no longer interchangeable instances or exemplars of a tribal identity, and cannot be forced into that mold. That individuality is what drives the dynamism of civilized societies; what enables it to change more in 100 years than tribal societies might in 10,000. It is what has permitted humans to overcome the famines, diseases, disasters, and other idiosyncrasies of Nature which beset them and all their primate cousins for millions of years, and to transform the natural world to better meet their needs and better satisfy their ever-evolving and proliferating desires.

What worked for pre-civilized societies never worked very well, and cannot work at all for the unrelated, individuated members of civilized societies. There is no longer a collective consciousness, and in communities of more than a few hundred members, not even any common goals. Modern societies are meta-communities — public venues for personal interactions. They provide opportunities for individuals to forge relationships with others, but supply no content for those relationships. They are like public playing fields; they offer space and seating, but each team brings its own gear, its own personnel, and its own game with its own rules. The house rules are few and general: “No reservations accepted: first-come, first served,” “Do not intrude on others’ games,” and “Pick up your litter.”

"Collectivism" is an atavistic social/political doctrine which seeks to resurrect the organic model of human society and superimpose it on modern societies by force. Every totalitarian movement that emerged in the bloody 20th century began with some version of the organic sociolological assumption. But that premise is false, destructive, and obsolete.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Greta » November 8th, 2020, 12:02 am

GE Morton wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 10:24 pm
Greta wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 8:53 pm
My impression is that individualism and collectivism are features in all societies. The balance between individualism and collectivism, varies both between and within all societies, and the balance constantly changes somewhat over time.
That is essentially true, but there is some terminological confusion going on here. Modern, civilized societies are not collectives (though there are many collectives within them). They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who have no natural bonds, no shared personal histories, no common interests, and no a priori obligations to one another. It's members are all individualized, by virtue of inherent differences in natural endowments and exposure to an infinite (practically speaking) variety of social and environmental influences.

I posted this in another thread a while back:

------------------
A fundamental choice when constructing any social theory is that between two different sociological assumptions, which we can call atomism and organicism. It is an assumption concerning the nature of the relationship between the individual and the society of which he is a member. If you go wrong at this point, you end up with a theory that is irrelevant, that describes (or prescribes) a society that does not (and perhaps cannot) exist.

Homo sapiens, if the anthropologists are right, has been on Earth for about 200,000 years. Until the last 10,000 or so of those years, he lived in small tribal villages, consisting of a few dozen to a few hundred members — small enough that all of its members knew all of the others; indeed, had known each other all of their lives. They midwifed one another’s births, tended one another’s illnesses, shared one another’s possessions, and married one another’s cousins. They knew and trusted one another, and had dense, intimate relationships among one another. They needed no formal ethics nor any political structure to govern their affairs, simply because each was and had always been a part of every other’s life.

The organic model is a good approximation of the structure of such societies. But with the rise of civilization — societies characterized by cities — that model began to break down. People found themselves living in communities in which most of the people around them were strangers, with whom they had no familial or other personal ties, and often very little in common. People began to take notice of the differences among them — differences in coloration and bone structure, in choices of dress, in temperament and mannerisms, in interests and tastes, in the habits and practices of daily life, and eventually even in religion and language. They acquired individuality.

In tribal societies there is no free will, and no individuality. All the myriad choices we today are constantly obliged to make are prescribed by the tribe; they’re part of the tribal consciousness, codified in tribal tradition, the “folkways” of the tribe. How one dresses, what one eats, where one lives, how one earns a living, the choosing of mates, the Gods to be worshipped and the rituals for worshipping them, all the petty rules governing the tasks of daily life and the “standard methods” for performing them, are absorbed from the tribe, without question and without the need for thought.

There is no individuality to speak of in these groups because all members have known and interacted only with each other since birth, and they are locked into a resonance. There is no politics, no debate, no alternate point of view on any matter — and as a result, almost no innovation. Tribal cultures can remain all but static for thousands of years, with only a slight refinement in spear points to indicate any time has passed at all. Australian Aborigines, for example, when encountered by Europeans in the 18th century, were making didgeridoos indistinguishable from those made 2000 years earlier. In 40,000 years they never added another instrument to their musical technology.

That resonance, however, cannot be maintained in larger groups, because the required intimacy is impossible. The group becomes too large for everyone to know and interact constantly with everyone else; hence one soon finds oneself in the company of strangers — individuals with whom they’ve had no prior contact and whose habits, preferences, and beliefs cannot be predicted in advance. And because they’ve all been subject to different combinations of influences, they begin to differ in all the ways indicated above.

The breakdown of that resonance represented a huge transformation, not merely of the social structure, but of the human psyche. The traditional tribal control mechanisms, based on age and personal stature, gave way to formal systems of governance — politics. The tribesman’s intuitive sense of right and wrong, which derived primarily from his personal ties to and commonality with his fellows, gave way to formal systems of ethics. Indeed, ethics, like law, is a code for regulating behavior among strangers — among people who have no personal interest in one another’s welfare. As Jared Diamond pointed out in Guns, Germs, and Steel, “With the rise of chiefdoms around 7,500 years ago, people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without attempting to kill them.”

Every utopia conceived in the last 5000 years has been an attempt to recapture the tribal consciousness. The Garden of Eden story embodies this “fall from Grace” — the loss of mankind’s oneness with God and Nature, his “alienation,” his exile into a world of strife and temptation, where he seems to have free will and must constantly choose between good and evil, between this course of action or that, relying only on his own judgement, and must suffer the consequences when his judgments go awry.

All these laments of lost innocence and alienation are atavisms, psychic echoes of our tribal heritage, the social form honed over the course of our 3 million year primate history. All of our fellow primates still practice that form, and until the rise of civilization, so did all humans. It would be surprising were our brains not adapted to that social form. They have evolved syncronously with that form, and thus may be expected to function optimally in that environment, in many ways. So it is not surprising that we miss that form, or that we long to regain it. We are ducks out of water, trying to find our way back to the pond.

We remain “wired” for tribal life. We long for it, unattainable though it may be. And often we try to recreate or or substitute for it, by immersing ourselves in cults or joining in totalitarian movements. The cult seeks to insulate itself from the “society of strangers;” the totalitarian movement seeks to subdue it and impose a tribal-like conformity, a synthetic common identity and purpose — usually resulting in much bloodshed.

But civilized humans are individuated; they are no longer interchangeable instances or exemplars of a tribal identity, and cannot be forced into that mold. That individuality is what drives the dynamism of civilized societies; what enables it to change more in 100 years than tribal societies might in 10,000. It is what has permitted humans to overcome the famines, diseases, disasters, and other idiosyncrasies of Nature which beset them and all their primate cousins for millions of years, and to transform the natural world to better meet their needs and better satisfy their ever-evolving and proliferating desires.

What worked for pre-civilized societies never worked very well, and cannot work at all for the unrelated, individuated members of civilized societies. There is no longer a collective consciousness, and in communities of more than a few hundred members, not even any common goals. Modern societies are meta-communities — public venues for personal interactions. They provide opportunities for individuals to forge relationships with others, but supply no content for those relationships. They are like public playing fields; they offer space and seating, but each team brings its own gear, its own personnel, and its own game with its own rules. The house rules are few and general: “No reservations accepted: first-come, first served,” “Do not intrude on others’ games,” and “Pick up your litter.”

"Collectivism" is an atavistic social/political doctrine which seeks to resurrect the organic model of human society and superimpose it on modern societies by force. Every totalitarian movement that emerged in the bloody 20th century began with some version of the organic sociolological assumption. But that premise is false, destructive, and obsolete.
I enjoyed your post, GE, but your last paragraph misread collectivism, which does not be about totalitarianism, but cooperation (consider the US space programs during the Cold War). Collectivism comes in various models that differ in how much they use the carrot (US 1970s) or stick (China). Also note that anarchism also leads to authoritarianism because, without rules and protocols, the strongest collectives can ruthlessly dispatch opposition without consequence.

So large societies have layers of collectivism - from small and tight collectives within them like football clubs and church communities to huge and very loose collectives like states and nations. It all boils down to common concerns. If Russia and China decided to join together to hobble US trade, for instance, then most of the US would operate as a collective to defend their shared turf, despite the internal divisions.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Count Lucanor » November 8th, 2020, 12:24 am

Waechter418 wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 4:47 pm
Collectives are innately against the individual (Lat. undivided).
No, that's not true. The safety and well-being of most individuals rely on collective actions. Every human is born and raised in some form of structured society, as basic as it can be, and cannot survive the first years without it.
Waechter418 wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 4:47 pm
The “individuals” propagated by their psychologists, philosophers, media, influencers & consumer strategists are actors who lure with the lie that Selfrealisation may be achieved in a collective.
Since no person exists or has existed that is not the product of a society where they are raised, how come they pretend to achieve something by denying their social, collective foundation? Will they repel their natural language, their education, their relations of kinship, the economic organization? What would be left seems more like a brute animal. I wonder if that is what is meant by self-realization.
Waechter418 wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 4:47 pm
The relationships of the members of collectives are largely parasitic, and increase with the complexity of a collective, which manifests in the growing numbers of laws with which it tries to regulate its parasitic interdependencies and the mutual devouring of its subjects.
In what sense it would be parasitic? By definition, in a parasitic relation, only one of the members receives benefits, while the other loses in a zero-sum game. But where there's mutual dependency, such as in ecological mutualism, each one receives some benefit from the interaction. Of course, human society does not work in that simple way and there are forms of social organization, specially in a society divided by classes, where there are parasitic relations. The point is that living in a society does not imply it.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Waechter418 » November 8th, 2020, 11:30 am

To be born and raised in a collective (society) does not rule out to build and live in an abode of own choice. Latter does not have to be asocial and/or a hindrance to the function of the collective.
(it could be a physical and mental survival need - a conscious or intellectual choice - motivated by love of life, self, nature ....:)

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by GE Morton » November 8th, 2020, 11:58 am

Greta wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 12:02 am

I enjoyed your post, GE, but your last paragraph misread collectivism, which does not be about totalitarianism, but cooperation (consider the US space programs during the Cold War). Collectivism comes in various models that differ in how much they use the carrot (US 1970s) or stick (China).
Collectivism is not always totalitarian, but it always involves force. Cooperation achieved with a "stick" is slavery, by definition.
So large societies have layers of collectivism - from small and tight collectives within them like football clubs and church communities to huge and very loose collectives like states and nations. It all boils down to common concerns.
But that is the point --- there are no common concerns among the members of modern civilized societies --- shared, that is, by all members of those societies. In rare cases, such as invasion by a foreign power, agreement on a policy may approach consensus, though it never quite achieves it (even in WWII more than a few citizens of Allied countries opposed the war). But most "collective" decisions are actually decisions of some faction, and imposed upon the rest by force. They are collective decisions of that faction only.

I take a collective (in social/political contexts) to be a group of people working cooperatively in pursuit of a common task, interest, or goal. Football clubs, jazz bands, business partnerships, and thousands of other organizations are true collectives. Because (by hypothesis) all members of such groups share that goal or interest cooperation is voluntary; no force is required to secure it.
Also note that anarchism also leads to authoritarianism because, without rules and protocols, the strongest collectives can ruthlessly dispatch opposition without consequence.
I agree. And those rules and protocols would be vacuous unless they can be enforced. So a moral question arises: under what circumstances, if any, may one moral agent exert force against another? That question only arises because modern societies are not collectives.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Ecurb » November 8th, 2020, 12:04 pm

GE Morton wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 10:24 pm


We remain “wired” for tribal life. We long for it, unattainable though it may be. And often we try to recreate or or substitute for it, by immersing ourselves in cults or joining in totalitarian movements. The cult seeks to insulate itself from the “society of strangers;” the totalitarian movement seeks to subdue it and impose a tribal-like conformity, a synthetic common identity and purpose — usually resulting in much bloodshed.

But civilized humans are individuated; they are no longer interchangeable instances or exemplars of a tribal identity, and cannot be forced into that mold. That individuality is what drives the dynamism of civilized societies; what enables it to change more in 100 years than tribal societies might in 10,000. It is what has permitted humans to overcome the famines, diseases, disasters, and other idiosyncrasies of Nature which beset them and all their primate cousins for millions of years, and to transform the natural world to better meet their needs and better satisfy their ever-evolving and proliferating desires.

What worked for pre-civilized societies never worked very well, and cannot work at all for the unrelated, individuated members of civilized societies. There is no longer a collective consciousness, and in communities of more than a few hundred members, not even any common goals. Modern societies are meta-communities — public venues for personal interactions. They provide opportunities for individuals to forge relationships with others, but supply no content for those relationships. They are like public playing fields; they offer space and seating, but each team brings its own gear, its own personnel, and its own game with its own rules. The house rules are few and general: “No reservations accepted: first-come, first served,” “Do not intrude on others’ games,” and “Pick up your litter.”

"Collectivism" is an atavistic social/political doctrine which seeks to resurrect the organic model of human society and superimpose it on modern societies by force. Every totalitarian movement that emerged in the bloody 20th century began with some version of the organic sociolological assumption. But that premise is false, destructive, and obsolete.
Good post. However, the notion of a "collective consiousness" in small societies is a stretch. "Consciousness" (a difficult concept) cannot be "collective". Of course it is true that small societies offer little access to diverse points of view or sources of information. That (rather than "collective consciousness") probably explains the lack of technological innovation. It is also true that there was little diversity in education and economic or political roles. Again, that helps explain the continuity of culture in those societies. Specialists are innovators. Our complex, diverse society thirves on specialization, producing both innovation and alienation.

Eden provided humans with everything we needed, but we wanted something more. We sought knowledge of good and evil, ate the apple, and both paid the price and reaped the benefits. You are right: we cannot return to Eden, try as we might.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Count Lucanor » November 8th, 2020, 12:13 pm

Waechter418 wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 11:30 am
To be born and raised in a collective (society) does not rule out to build and live in an abode of own choice.
It rules out the possibility of denying the social base in which individuality can flourish. To reaffirm individuality one must acknowledge our sociability first.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 8th, 2020, 12:42 pm

Waechter418 wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 4:47 pm
Collectives are innately against the individual (Lat. undivided). The “individuals” propagated by their psychologists, philosophers, media, influencers & consumer strategists are actors who lure with the lie that self-realisation may be achieved in a collective.
Greta wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 8:53 pm
My impression is that individualism and collectivism are features in all societies. The balance between individualism and collectivism, varies both between and within all societies, and the balance constantly changes somewhat over time.
Collectives are no more "innately against" individuals than individuals are "innately against" societies. As Greta says, individualism and collectivism exist in all societies. More than that, it is the balance between the two that forms a fundamental part of any political philosophy. American libertarian culture promotes individualism uber alles, even to the point of smearing socialism with its own sad history of racial segregation. So-called left-wing politics tends to favour the collective much more, but only the unworkable extremes of left-wing politics seek to submerge or suppress the individual, in favour of the collective. [Contrast this with the equally unworkable American position that collectives must be suppressed if individuality is to survive. Your own phraseology confirms this impression of collectivism as something inherently bad and wrong.]
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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 8th, 2020, 12:46 pm

Greta wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 8:53 pm
My impression is that individualism and collectivism are features in all societies. The balance between individualism and collectivism, varies both between and within all societies, and the balance constantly changes somewhat over time.

GE Morton wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 10:24 pm
That is essentially true, but there is some terminological confusion going on here. Modern, civilized societies are not collectives (though there are many collectives within them). They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who have no natural bonds, no shared personal histories, no common interests, and no a priori obligations to one another. It's members are all individualized, by virtue of inherent differences in natural endowments and exposure to an infinite (practically speaking) variety of social and environmental influences.
This is libertarian dogma. Societies are nothing but families, but bigger. They comprise individuals who are linked with one another, sometimes intimately, other times more distant. The individuality of these individuals is not besmirched or compromised by also being part of the collective. Both must exist in balance, I feel.
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Re: individual vs collective

Post by GE Morton » November 8th, 2020, 1:47 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 12:13 pm
Waechter418 wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 11:30 am
To be born and raised in a collective (society) does not rule out to build and live in an abode of own choice.
It rules out the possibility of denying the social base in which individuality can flourish. To reaffirm individuality one must acknowledge our sociability first.
Yes. Individuality makes no sense, and would be undefined, in the absence of a social context. But sociability does not entail collectivism.

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Re: individual vs collective

Post by GE Morton » November 8th, 2020, 2:13 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 12:46 pm

This is libertarian dogma. Societies are nothing but families, but bigger.
Not unless you define "family" so broadly as to render the term meaningless. A group does not become a "family" merely by occupying a common territory. Nor by being members of one species. Some specific affinities, a "family resemblance," is required.

FAMILY (noun):
2: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : HOUSEHOLD
3a: a group of persons of common ancestry : CLAN
b: a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock
4a: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : FELLOWSHIP
b: the staff of a high official (such as the President)
5: a group of things related by common characteristics: such as
a: a closely related series of elements or chemical compounds
b: a group of soils with similar chemical and physical properties (such as texture, pH, and mineral content) that comprise a category ranking above the series and below the subgroup in soil classification
c: a group of related languages descended from a single ancestral language
6a: a group of related plants or animals forming a category ranking above a genus and below an order and usually comprising several to many genera

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/family

None of those definitions describe the relationships between members of modern civilized societies.
They comprise individuals who are linked with one another, sometimes intimately, other times more distant. The individuality of these individuals is not besmirched or compromised by also being part of the collective. Both must exist in balance, I feel.
That leads to a reductio ad absurdum: everything is "linked" via some path to everything else. You need to specify that "link" more precisely. Otherwise you, the trees in the yard, the birds in the trees, the distant mountains, and the stars in the sky are all members of a "family."

Modern societies are not "big happy families," tribes, "teams," brotherhoods, giant co-ops, or collectives of any kind --- at least, per the common meanings of those terms.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: individual vs collective

Post by Count Lucanor » November 8th, 2020, 2:59 pm

GE Morton wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 1:47 pm
Count Lucanor wrote:
November 8th, 2020, 12:13 pm

It rules out the possibility of denying the social base in which individuality can flourish. To reaffirm individuality one must acknowledge our sociability first.
Yes. Individuality makes no sense, and would be undefined, in the absence of a social context. But sociability does not entail collectivism.
I does not entail collectivism, as much as it doesn't entail individualism (social atomism).

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thrasymachus
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Re: individual vs collective

Post by thrasymachus » November 8th, 2020, 4:49 pm

G E Morton wrote
We remain “wired” for tribal life. We long for it, unattainable though it may be. And often we try to recreate or or substitute for it, by immersing ourselves in cults or joining in totalitarian movements. The cult seeks to insulate itself from the “society of strangers;” the totalitarian movement seeks to subdue it and impose a tribal-like conformity, a synthetic common identity and purpose — usually resulting in much bloodshed.
To say tribal life is is wired on the on hand and unattainable on the other put you in a precarious position; because then you proceed to say all attempts to even substitute are bound to failure.

Your trouble, as I see it, is that you identify the modern attempts at tribal life with only cults and totalitarian failures. If this is instinctually hardwired, then abandoning it is out of the question, for it is bound to human fulfillment. You would have us living lives of alienation, and this is exactly what philosophy wants to overcome.

Better to think more clearly about this tribal need and seek an intelligent understanding of its compatibility with our modern affairs. It is not at all removed from family life and the emotional closeness of brothers and sisters and parents and children and so on. In fact, it is the same thing, even by your descriptions of tribal life, family is the unity that binds people in sameness.

Or, perhaps consider Hirsch's Cultural Literacy idea: the one thing that threatens the social fabric is difference. So, says Hirsch, we need to assimilate immigrants more comprehensively to be more comfortable and feel less threatened by others. Unfortunately, this plays out in real circumstances in terms of intolerance of others and an odious sense of privilege and superiority and the so on, but the idea is not altogether wrong minded. I may be a flaming liberal in all nearly all matters, but I do think the liberal assumption that "respect for persons" being an intellectually acquired ability is pitted against this tribal nature in us all, and will successful only where this latter is overcome.

Hmm, I guess my thinking comes to this: the issue really comes down to whether or not one feels threatened by others in society, and whether or not others can affirm who you are by talking and thinking and valuing as you do. Call this a tribal necessity, if you like. to me, it's just comfort. My cat an I are miles apart in our "thinking" but we are quite content to be with each other. I dismiss Hirsch and I dismiss tribal instinct. I think the we the self is malleable in the extreme on this point.

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