Individualism vs. Collectivism

Individualism vs. Collectivism

Individualism Vs. Collectivism

There are two basic ways of understanding the relationship between individuals in a group. The first way is individualism, which states that each individual is acting on his or her own, making their own choices, and to the extent they interact with the rest of the group, it's as individuals. Collectivism is the second way, and it views the group as the primary entity, with the individuals lost along the way.

Objectivism supports individualism in this sense. In a different sense, individualism is meant to be whether the individual is different from everyone else, or whether he makes up his own mind about things, or what-not. But in the individualist-collectivist sense of the term, individualism just means that the individual is a separate entity, making his own choices, thinking his own thoughts, and responsible for his own choices.

Collectivism views it in some other way. It sees the group as the important element, and individuals are just members of the group. The group has its own values somehow different from those of the individual members. The group thinks its own thoughts. Instead of judging the group as a bunch of individuals interacting, it judges the group as a whole, and views the individuals as just members of the group.

Collectivism might sound strange at first. I've known people who reject it as a straw man, a made up argument that's easy to attack. So let's give some reasons why people might accept it.

First, there's knowledge. Think about it in a few ways. First, how much of what you know did you learn from other people? That's taken to mean that nobody is truly an individual. Second, when coming up with an idea in a group, there's usually an exchange. It wasn't one person who invented the idea from scratch, but a group effort. So again, it's seen as the group that made the decision. Third, you're a product of your culture, right? Your outlook on life is at first very much dominated by the views of...

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