Toward a Genealogy of Individualism
This engaging interdisciplinary study examines the emergence, rise, and decline of individualism as a central feature of the Western world view. Building on research into the concept of self, Daniel Shanahan argues that the seeds of individualism - "that system of beliefs in which the individual becomes the final arbiter of truth" - were sown in ancient civilizations where subjective consciousness first became apparent. He then traces the evolution of the Western self-concept through its various historical representations: the "analog self" of the Greeks and Hebrews; the "authorized self" of Augustine and the Christian era; and the "empowered self" of modernity.
In Shanahan's view, the current collapse of individualism reflects growing skepticism about the capacity of the self alone to determine truth. These doubts can be attributed in part to the inherent tensions of a self-referential epistemology and in part to the increasing alienation of the individual from modern society.
In a final chapter, Shanahan draws on cross-cultural and anthropological studies of non-Western cultures to show that alternatives to the individualistic paradigm not only exist, but may already signal the advent of a new world view based on the recognition of human interdependence.
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ability age of individualism alienation allowed analog analog-I analysis ancient Hebrews argues assumption attitudes Augustine authenticity authorized become behavior belief bicameral Burckhardt C. B. Macpherson Calvin categorical imperative century chapter characterization Christian tradition concept contemporary critique cultures discussion divine domain Dumont Emergence of Consciousness emphasis empowered empowerment epistemological Eric Fromm eventually existence fact Freud Fromm genealogy Greeks human experience humankind Ibid Iliad individual's individualistic Jaynes says Jaynes's Kant Kant's lexical field logic Lukes M. H. Abrams metaphoric Middle Ages mind mind-space modern moral Morris narrative nature perceptions perspective philosophy pluralistic political possessive individualism premises psychoanalysis psychological question reality Reformation religious remarks Renaissance represents Romantic Romanticism secularization seen self-concept shift simply Sincerity and Authenticity social society spiritual structure subjective individualism suggests Suzanne Langer tion transformational Trilling Trilling's truth understanding University validity vidualism Walter Ong Weber words world view York
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