Essay by guru tony
Thinkers’ Corner features theoretical essays on everything from politics to the paranormal, science to religion, crime to love, offering a different way of thinking best described as Rational Holism.
What is ‘you’? I say this as opposed to ‘who are you’ because as a personality it may not be down to you. It is all to do with what an ‘individual’ is and is not.
The idea of individuality is quite recent for most of us. It is most likely a spin-off of social evolutionary processes. It requires the time to think that you ARE individual. Hence, it will arise at such time that you are no longer preoccupied with survival.
In this sense it came down the classes. The old God-Kings can be said to be first to not have to worry about survival, so were the first to appreciate their individuality. As technology advanced, so, too, the numbers able to be individuals, descending down the aristocracy, the middleclass, and finally the working class.
Of course, in a mass consumer society this is important. You need to express yourself individually to be a good consumer. Indeed, throughout history trade has occurred to expand the numbers of individuals. In this sense, individuality is a consumer device.
This does, of course, suggest that individuality is a concept rather than an absolute. We don’t like to think in this way, but it could be true. We’re back to what is ‘you’? Well, ‘you’ is shaped by many things outside of you.
Ancestry, culture, environment and society all shape who you are. Then there are instinctual drives. Now, we’re said not to be controlled by these any more. We’re no longer just animals. But is this really the case, or have such drives merely adapted to our evolving species?
We all express emotions of various kinds, but whilst the reason for such expression may be personal, the emotion itself is universal throughout the species. Jung identified universal archetypal character types which we all express. So these, too, seem to be of the species.
As I see it, individuality is really an amalgam of outside influences, shaped into ‘you’ by your experiences, certainly, but a cauldron of outside impulses nonetheless.
Don’t get me wrong. Individuality is good, but maybe not as absolute as we think. We should bear this in mind when we say individuality is everything. It may give us a new understanding of community and togetherness.
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