Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Individuality" and Bigotry

"Individuality" and Bigotry

If one makes "individuality" the primary social value, you run the danger of promoting prejudice.


Part of the problem of understanding individuality has to do with too much focus on the term “individuality”.

Individuality is actually not the highest principle or concept. Individuality is a subset of something more general and more to the point, and that is diversity and difference.

Individuality is one expression of diversity and difference. And there are many other specific examples. There is social diversity in the sense of race, ethnicity, religion. We have different genders, we have differing sexual orientations. There are subcultures and differing lifestyles. Individuality is only one form of difference or differentiation among human beings.

The world is full of diversity and difference, this is its fundamental nature. Evolution and development produces more diversity and difference overall as time progresses, whether in the cosmos, in nature, in a human brain or in human society.

When you speak only of freedom of the individual, one might forget or exclude other types of differences among human beings. But if you proceed first from the principle of human diversity then you are not likely to be a bigot or narrow minded.

Appreciation of difference maintains a broad and open view, it leads to strong rules about defense of difference. It leads to a double perspective of practicing one’s own individuality and respecting that of others.

In Tea Party logic this does not happen. One particular form of diversity is posed against all other forms of diversity, and yet it masquerades as a form of difference thinking. In the end, variety is destroyed.

Here is a core intellectual mistake that if unimpeded will lead to suppression of difference, diversity and individuality, and creativity too.

If we just proceed from my "individuality" and do not consider the needs of others, then we may well end up in the camp of bigotry. If we make this kind of individuality primary, then many who are bigots will come along for the ride, because their ideas are no longer stigmatized, their ideas  are legitimate and in fact sanctified by "my individuality". The noble idea of individuality makes a short trip to the inevitable destination of selfishness.

And if this "individuality" were to triumph, we would have an organized selfishness on a large scale.

And what would that be?  A new Apartheid.

So here is an example of how philosophy gets you to a higher level and gives a general perspective that allows you to see what is essential, and what is merely a sub-idea -- perhaps an important idea, but one with limitations which can be very dangerous operating on its own.

Cage Innoye

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