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Someone, No One: An Essay on Individuality

Someone, No One: An Essay on Individuality

Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Someone, No One: An Essay on Individuality
    Book Description:

    Examining the concept of individuality and the ideology of individualism in terms of a dialectic between the self and the social order, the author draws a distinction between the person as an identity-a "someone"-who conforms to social roles and norms, and the individual as a nonidentity-a "no one"-who holds particular nonconformist perceptions of truth that result in conscious and independent moral discrimination and innovation.

    Originally published in 1979.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6760-8
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)

      (pp. 3-16)

      Within the European or Western experience the thought which invests the human organism with individuality has been the home of many disparate and contradictory ideas. Whether in the here-now, this or that historical period, or in relation to other cultures or civilizations, residues from the past mingle with the present, and shades of understanding and lines of demonstration defy the clean chop of precision. Continually in flux, changing, developing, falling back into the past to metamorphose anew, thoughts about the individual and individuality—accreting into a variety of -isms—spell out the history of European thought: love, conscience, free will,...

      (pp. 17-31)

      Integrating the animal into a coherence with the sociocultural environment, the self reveals itself as particular or peculiar in its mode of integration. Capable of that integration which manifests the person, the self may also claim or be credited with an integration of those special attributes or relations which evoke the individual. Folded into the social categories and images of others, theIthat is the self’s image of itself can either reflect the light of others or strive to cut the coils and bid others note a new light. The more we suffer the sight and sound of uniformed...

      (pp. 32-52)

      Representing two quite different levels of experiencing and interpreting the social environment, “people" and “society” yet converge in or are mediated by the event. Events enable us to understand who people are and what they are doing in relation to the sociocultural categories which make up a community or society. Through events, which can only be relevant and understood or misunderstood in relation to their rationalizations, we can perceive what is happening, recognize people who do or do not fit into the identities prescribed by the categories. That which is rationalized or intellectualized or symbolized, whether the medium is painting,...

      (pp. 53-76)

      In summary fashion: failing to distinguish person and individual as opposed categories of thought and action centered on the assertion to autonomy and the integrating self, and the imbalance and often confusion between the experience of people on the one hand and of society on the other, may be returned to the sacral nature, in the Western tradition, of the human biological organism. And this, which we may contain in the formula,mouth = soul,indicates the union of flesh and word: an expression at once of Christian participatory values and the conjunction of an anomie with intellectual orderliness. Separating...


      (pp. 79-115)

      What has now to be explored is how far different kinds of social order produce situations which allow, encourage, or inhibit the moments of individuality as they have been discussed in the foregoing pages. The question whether social conditions produce the individual or vice versa is a false problem. For if the individual is as creative in the event as we suppose him to be, then he creates the conditions which allow him his opportunity. As a surface observation an individual is one who articulates new moralities even though no new conditions may result, and those that do may not...

      (pp. 116-143)

      Because individuality has been characterized as a movement between person and individual (person ↔ individual → individuality),it may seem confusing to consider some examples in which individuals or their likenesses are forced to occupy prescribed roles and positions within the community, and may not be individuals or like individuals outside those positions. Yet if one remembers that the characterization of individuality has been drawn from the European experience, and that the movement between person and individual is not necessarily restricted as to frequency or duration, much of the confusion disappears. What is important is to appreciate the ways in...

      (pp. 144-168)

      Generally, the truth of things comes into cognizance in two main ways: by means of deliberate and systematic processes of investigation; and by a variety of phenomena (dreams, visions, etc.) or procedures (meditation, trance, etc.) which permit a truth to impose itself, intervene and insist upon an awareness or intuition of itself. And although the two modes, metaphorically if inexactly the science and thesatori, are normally in a dialectical relationship, the truth of asatorican stand by itself, issui generis,has no need of the science. On the other hand, if the science is to develop it...


      (pp. 171-190)

      The human impulse to know the truth of things, manifest in attempts to articulate the real and true, is also a search for the springs of power. Whether in the curved beak of a hawk, the armed divisions and industrial base of a nation-state, a child’s innocent brown eyes, or revelatory experience, power moves to realize its own inherencies, determines. What is sought of and from the moralities, on the other hand, is an equilibrium of order, a harmonious balance of powers grounded in reciprocities: for each right a duty or obligation, for every privilege a responsibility, for every good...

    • 9 CHARISMA
      (pp. 191-212)

      The respect accorded to shamans and sanyasis seems to rest on that control and mastery of themselves which, through an integration of the components of being, can transform what appear as animal and moral ailments, lesions, or weaknesses into sources of power of benefit to the community at large. Demonstrating wholeness of being in relation to the necessarily partial truths of the moralities, the shaman’s and sanyasi’s many capacities make them “more than” those in community. Their beings are rounder and fuller, they are nearer than others to the truth of things. But apart from their apprentices neither shaman nor...

      (pp. 213-235)

      Because the guardians identify themselves with the given moralities, they have moral authority and can provide moral leadership. The active preservation of an environment of order which, because it is ordered, provides meaning and becomes idealized, is the basis of their power. Collectively, the guardians represent and make explicit to others that consensus to prescribed truths and realities which makes community life possible. They conserve the reciprocities which enable each to be fulfilled in and through others. Survival, whether in animal, cultural, moral, or spiritual terms, depends upon the consensus which is, too, the environment providing access to truth and...

      (pp. 236-248)

      Whether in some lonelyjungle outpost, city slum, or desert of railway tracks, cheap tenements, and sleazy boarding houses bereft of love, the most obvious exponent of individuality is the Christian missionary. Concerned with moral regeneration, he or she is the bearer of that tradition which, moving out from the home environment, seeks the face of God and a universal morality in otherness. And this quest entails a dialectic between what is brought to that otherness and what is learned from it: a process of mutual communication and acceptance as, on both hands, horizons of awareness are widened. And a part...

    (pp. 249-254)

    Under the rubric of “individualism,” individuality and the individual have been taking a beating. The movement away from a particular and passing “individualism” of greed, selfishness, and the exploitation of others toward the person and varieties of collective forms has been a necessary corrective. Too much had gone awry. Individuality had run wild. A reaction was bound to follow. Yet the individual never was authentic in autonomy, greed, selfishness, self-interest, and the exploitation of others. Those sorts of abuse are part of the risk entailed in generalized individuality. Overcorrection, on the other hand, puts on the straitjacket of the automated...

    (pp. 255-262)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 263-270)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-271)