The Individual

Nick_A

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I saw this excerpt from Brian:

Originally Posted by Brian
the human animal is torn by two opposing sociobiological forces - survival of the group, and survival of the individual.

Survival of the group requires that everyone understands their positions, and are held to account by the group in the interests of the group.

Survival of the individual plays out in the dynamics of social inequalities - by nature, social groups have heirarchies and increasing the chances of survival tends to relate to increasing social standing, ie, access to resources, mates, protection, etc.

I think it's especially worth suggesting that the lower social classes - where social advancement is less of an option - may be more prone to positive moral judgements with regards to the group element. The need to stick together due to the vulnerability of being alone. The reverse is that the higher social standing, the the greater the opportunity of flouting social rules for personal gain.

I was attracted to the expression "survival of the individual." It seems that this can only be meant in the physical and behaviorist sense. But is that all that is meant by individuality?

Naturally as a believer in conscious evolution, objective individuality has a distinct meaning for me. But I am curious about you dear reader. How do you define individuality and what is required for its development and its survival? Is it even anything to be strived for especially in these times when often we are all considered as "one?"
 
I'm not quite sure what you are after. I see it pretty well the way Brian mentioned...a given person has the competing demands of self and community...and these influences mold the person's thoughts and groom the behaviour across the spectrum; mental, physical and spiritual.
 
I'm not quite sure what you are after. I see it pretty well the way Brian mentioned...a given person has the competing demands of self and community...and these influences mold the person's thoughts and groom the behaviour across the spectrum; mental, physical and spiritual.

But is this all an individual is or can be? Consider this question of individuality in the light of Prof. Jacob Needleman's description of "acornology" from his book "Lost Christianity."

Acornology

I began my lecture that morning from just this point. There is an innate element in human nature, I argued that can grow and develop only through impressions of truth received in the organism like a special nourishing energy. To this innate element I gave a name - perhaps not a very good name - the "higher unconscious." My aim was to draw an extremely sharp distinction between the unconscious that Freud had identified and the unconscious referred to (though not by that name) in the Christian tradition.

Imagine, I said, that you are a scientist and you have before you the object known as the acorn. Let us further imagine that you have never before seen such an object and that you certainly do not know that it can grow into an oak. You carefully observe these acorns day after day and soon you notice that after a while they crack open and die. Pity! How to improve the acorn? So that it will live longer. You make careful, exquisitely precise chemical analyses of the material inside the acorn and, after much effort, you succeed in isolating the substance that controls the condition of the shell. Lo and behold, you are now in the position to produce acorns which will last far longer than the others, acorns whose shells will perhaps never crack. Beautiful!

The question before us, therefore, is whether or not modern psychology is only a version of acornology.

Most define individuality from the perspective of the shell and how it is created by society . Dr. Needleman is referring to the living kernel of life within that has the potential to evolve.

It is "normal" for secularism to define individuality by the personality or the shell. It is normal for Christianity for example, to define individuality as a potential in the context of the living kernel of life the shell surrounds. Since we are a secular society, few ever consider the distinction described by Dr. Needleman as "Acornology."

How do you define individuality?
 
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