Individualism and its definition, characteristics. The value of the individual in Western culture. Non Western culture and individualism. Independence and sovereignty

Individualism means emphasis on the individual person. Western culture’s embrace of individualism stems from its embrace of reason because, as we shall see, the individual — and only the individual — has the ability to reason.

Hero of Humanity is the Individual
A group of people does not have the ability to reason, strictly speaking. Only the individuals comprising the group do because all perception and thought takes place within the individual mind. There is no group brain.

A group of people, for example, may create something new. However, since a group is merely a sum of individuals, what the group produces is ultimately the result of individual reason and judgment. For example, the television is considered a group invention. And it is true that no single person invented it, but this does not change the fact that it resulted from the contributions of individuals, not a faceless collective.

Also, when a person uses ideas and achievements of others to create something new, something above and beyond what already exists, the creation is the person’s own individual accomplishment, a result of his or her own initiative, effort, ingenuity and reason—not that of his or her predecessors. The light bulb, for example, is Thomas Edison’s achievement, and his alone, because he brought it into existence, even though others before him invented glass, a screw base, etc.

Everything that makes human life secure and enjoyable—from achievements in medicine, music and engineering to breakthroughs in transportation, literature and government—was ultimately the creation or discovery of one: the individual using his or her power of reason. The individual, therefore, is the hero of humanity.

Independent 
The individual, with his or her power of reason, can gain knowledge, competency, self-reliance and self-respect through his or her own effort and self-development. In other words, the individual can achieve independence; he or she need not have a fundamental dependence on others, including God, for survival and well-being.

Achieving independence does not require that one live alone, say, on a self-sustaining farm. A person has much to gain, such as knowledge and trade, from living in society. Rather, being independent requires that one think for oneself and pay one’s own way through life by working productively.

By definition, being independent rules out acting as a parasite, such as engaging in crime or, as a normal course of living, relying on private charity or government welfare.

Self-responsible Sovereign 
To have the faculty of reason implies that one has free will. Thinking is an act of choice; it is not automatic or instinctive. It is initiated and sustained by one’s own volition. A person has the choice to think, to question, to judge, to fully focus on reality or to coast mindlessly and then, by default, become a mere product of his or her genes and social influences.[1]

For example, a person can be raised by racist parents and come to personally adopt their irrational views. This person, however, especially by the time he reaches adulthood, can choose to think about and question the truthfulness of his bigoted views and reject these views, even if this process is difficult. If he does not question his views and remains a racist then this, too, is his choice.

The individual, therefore, is not just capable of being independent. The individual isindependent in the sense that what he believes and does—in other words, who he is—is ultimately a product of his own choice. As a result, the individual is self-responsible, the master of his own destiny and, in a word, sovereign.

Individualism Rejected
Non-Western culture rejects individualism. It holds that all achievement is ultimately a gift from God or/and a product of the group—not a result of the individual and his or her reason, volition and initiative. 

In other words, nonwestern culture may hold that God controls, and is responsible for, everything—including the individual and whatever he or she may achieve.

It may also hold that the individual is merely a feeble, dependent and expendable fragment or cell of the group. And the group (such as society, the state, the class, the tribe) is regarded as a super-organism that is somehow apart from and superior to the sum of its individual members. Consequently, according to this view, any and all achievement is the achievement of the group, that is, of a faceless collective.

Therefore, God or/and the group, not the individual, is considered sovereign and the primary value in nonwestern culture. Consequently, the individual in nonwestern culture is viewed as having relevance and value only insofar as he knows his place—that is, only insofar as he submits to, depends on and serves the will of God or/and the group.

Islam, for example, literally means “to submit.” And communism and socialism, with commune and social meaning “group,” are based on the primacy of the group and the subjugation of the individual to it.

Reason or Submission 
In nonwestern culture, submitting and surrendering oneself to the will of God or/and the group has nearly irresistible appeal because reason is devalued in the culture. This causes the individual to believe that reason—his own independent ability to grasp knowledge and truth—is inadequate to provide the guidance that his life and well-being require.

This leaves the individual feeling helpless, like a bird without wings, and desperate for anyone to tell him what to believe and do. As a result, the individual freely subjugates himself to the will of God or/and the group since they, not the individual, are viewed as powerful and efficacious.

 

• • • •

It is unnatural for the individual to be weak, submissive and dependent. Now is the time for the world to embrace the ideal of individualism by recognizing that it is proper for the individual to be rational, strong, independent, heroic and, in essence, the source of all achievement and greatness.

Reason, logic, secularism in Western culture. Mysticism, religion, faith and subjectivism in non-Western culture. Philosophy, definition of reason

Many fundamental differences exist between nations where Western culture dominates (nations of the First World) and nations where non-Western culture dominates (nations of the Third and Second World.)

Disparities in knowledge, achievement, economic development and life expectancy name just a few. The differences are ultimately explained by the fact that Western culture is derived from reason and non-Western culture is not.

What is Reason? 
The ancient Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle (384-322 BC), were the first to formally recognize that objective knowledge is acquired by reason. 

Reason is reality- or fact-based thought and perception. In technical terms, it is the faculty that enables humans to gain objective knowledge by organizing information from their senses into concepts according to the laws of logic.[1]

Reason is based on the view that reality—the world we live in—is real, absolute, universal, objective, complete in itself, and exists independent of and prior to the thoughts, hopes, desires and prayers of anyone and everyone. Reason presupposes that reality is orderly and stable, governed by causality and is, therefore, knowable and intelligible to the human mind. Secularism and science stem from this view of reality.

The competitors to reason are mysticism and subjectivism. 

Reason Devalued in Third World
Mysticism is a cultural force throughout nearly all of the world. But it is especially influential in the Third World, namely Africa and the Middle East.

Mysticism is the claim to a supernatural means of knowledge—one other than or contrary to the evidence of the senses and reason, such as revelation and intuition. All religion is a product of mysticism.

Mysticism is based on the view that the reality we perceive is not real, that it is merely a reflection or distortion of “true” reality, which is supernatural. Therefore, the reality we perceive, according to this view, is dependent on “true” reality and is manipulated by it in ways that are largely beyond the grasp of reason.

Hence, a society that embraces mysticism places emphasis, not on this world, but on “true” reality. Specifically, such a society often emphasizes the existence and power of a supernatural being, such as Allah (the Islamic God), who is believed to represent “true” reality.

And instead of being guided by reason, a mystical society is typically guided by individuals on earth and sacred texts that are believed to provide mystical insight into “true” reality—such as Muhammad (Allah’s spokesperson on earth) and the Koran (the word of Allah revealed to Muhammad), respectively.

Reason Devalued in Second World
Subjectivism is also a cultural force throughout much of the world, albeit a fading one. And it is especially influential in the Second World, which contains communist, socialist and left-leaning nations.

Subjectivism holds that truth varies, usually for different groups of people, such as different economic classes, and that each group, to some degree, creates its own truth. In other words, what may be true for one group is false for another. As a result, this view holds that different groups and their versions of truth clash and compete, i.e., bourgeois/capitalist truth vs. proletarian/worker truth.

Subjectivism is based on the view that reality is not universal, absolute and independent of people’s desires—but can be altered, in whole or in part, by human consciousness. As a result, subjectivism holds that people should dispense with, at least to some degree, the notion of objective reality—as well as with reason, the tool for grasping it.

In fact, the Second World holds that the claim that reason and its conclusions are valid is mere propaganda, created to help the capitalists exploit the working class. Or, in the words of Karl Marx: The “kingdom of reason [is] nothing more than the idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie.”[2]

Despite its reputation, the Second World does not and has never represented reason. It is ultimately as hostile toward reason as is the mystical Third World.

Reason and Survival 
Humans cannot survive as animals do. Animals survive by relying on their physical traits, such as fur to protect them from cold. And they rely on claws, sharp teeth, keen senses, brute strength and speed to catch prey and avoid predators. Animals also rely on instinct to guide their actions and to keep them alive.

If we humans tried to live like animals, relying mainly on our comparatively puny physical traits or instinct, we would quickly perish, probably from starvation or exposure to the elements.

For humans to survive, we must do so as humans. That is, we must use our minds. To achieve any hope of survival we need shelter, clothes and hunting tools. And to flourish we need language, agriculture, medicine, a proper government, industrialization and countless other values. These things are not created instinctively or merely by physical labor. Nor are they gifts from God. Rather, they are primarily the products of human reason.

In other words, humans are the “rational animal”—not because we always use reason, but because our capacity to reason is our defining attribute, our basic means of survival.

Culture of Success 
Over the past 200 years or more, Western culture has given the world a glimpse of the potential of the rational animal. In places where Western culture has dominated, a flood of material and spiritual wealth has flowed forth, benefiting human life by every objective measure.

Western culture has proven that humans are not helpless or hopeless. We need not cower before nature and the challenges of living, but can rather face them boldly—with the confidence that we, through the power of reason, can ultimately answer any question, triumph over any obstacle, achieve greatness and shape the world in the image of our values.

Western culture has shown that life on earth can be fulfilling, joyful and even heavenly. And it has shown that the reaching of ever-higher levels of knowledge, achievement, progress and human splendor can be commonplace, and that setbacks and suffering need only be temporary and unimportant.

Culture of Failure 

Both Western culture and non-Western culture show the power of reason. Western culture shows what happens when reason guides a culture; non-Western culture shows what happens when it does not.

Ignorance, superstition, dogma, poverty, despair, dread, meekness, disease, violence and premature death are the hallmarks of non-Western culture. And whatever advanced knowledge, progress and reprieve from misery people living in it have ultimately comes from Western culture.

With the suffering that accompanies it with each passing day, non-Western culture proves that people can reject reason as their guide to thought and action, but they cannot escape the fact that reason is man’s means of survival.

How much longer will people of the Third and Second World, by choosing to not embrace reason, reject their humanity and doom themselves to darkness, including genuine darkness?

Reality or Brutality 
One hallmark of non-Western culture that deserves special attention is violence.Disgusting brutality on a ghastly scale often takes place within, or emanates from, nations where non-Western culture dominates.

Some of the blackest examples of violence within non-Western culture include: the murder of at least 85 million people in communist nations in the 20th century[3]; the murder of nearly one million people in Africa since the mid-1990s; and the murder of as many as 600,000 people in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.[4]

Some of the blackest recent examples of violence emanating from non-Western culture, in terms of loss of life, include of course the September 11, 2001 massacre and the Madrid and London bombings.

The lack of embrace of reason in non-Western culture is ultimately the cause of these atrocities. Reason is the only objective way in which people can communicate and understand one another. When people deal with one another by reason they refer to reality as their objective arbiter and guide, and this allows people to ultimately settle disputes peacefully.

When people claim, however, that their knowledge is mystical, above reality and reason, or that it is subjective, and that reality is relative and reason is mere propaganda—then no persuasion, communication or understanding is possible. Consequently, in case of disagreement, there can be no recourse except to physical force and violence.[5]

Until people in non-Western culture recognize that reason is the foundation of a proper, civilized and peaceful society—the failure, the suffering and the bodies will only continue to pile up.

What is Western culture? What is non Western culture? The history and definition of Western culture. Western culture and race, racism, multiculturalism, westernization

Western culture is a body of knowledge derived from reason.


This foundation of reason has made possible a vast accumulation of understanding related to reality or nature, including human nature.

This understanding is represented in several core ideals and values, which include individualism, happiness, rights, capitalism, science and technology.

Western culture can also be referred to as advanced culture; this is because its ideas and values promote the development and sustainment of advanced civilization.

Brief History
Western culture began in Ancient Greece. There and in the Roman civilization it developed until the start of the Middle Ages when it largely vanished from Europe. During the Middle Ages, Western culture resided, instead, in the Arab / Persian world to a modest degree.

Then the rediscovery of Western culture in Europe in the Late Middle Ages prompted the Renaissance. Western culture’s continuing development then led to the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and to what is considered today as modern civilization.

Where Western Culture Is 
Today, Western culture has at least some presence in nearly all nations of the world. It does not currently exist, however, anywhere in a perfect and complete form. Wherever Western culture exists, it is at least partially mixed—and often largely mixed—with non-Western culture.

Western culture currently dominates in many Western and Central European nations and several nations settled by Europeans and their descendants. Western culture also significantly exists in many Asian nations, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, and it is increasingly influential in India and China.

It has only a modest presence in most of the rest of Asia as well as Latin America and Eastern Europe. In much of both Africa and the Middle East, Western culture currently has little meaningful presence.

Western Culture Transcends Geography and Race 
Since Western culture is based on objective reality and universal human nature, it is open to everyone, transcending both geography and race.[1]

In other words, Western culture is humanity’s culture. Contrary to conventional belief, one does not need to be Caucasian or of European descent to admire Western culture or, indeed, even help to build it. Any individual or society on earth can adopt it and thereby become Westernized.

Indeed, millions of people each year with no ancestral ties to Europe recognize the universal appeal of Western culture. They do so by immigrating to and immersing themselves in nations where Western culture has meaningful presence. Or they personally embrace and promote Western culture in the nations where they live.

These adopters of Western culture understand that truth is truth, ideals are ideals and values are values—and it does not matter from where such things come or who originally discovered or identified them. In other words, adopters of Western culture know, on some level, that culture is an intellectual matter, not an issue of geography or race—or, for that matter, an issue of ethnicity, language, class, national origin or gender.

Race and Culture… No Connection 

The fact that Europeans or Caucasians largely developed Western or advanced culture does not mean that they are innately superior or only they are capable of creating it.

One needs simply to know that North African, Near Eastern and Middle Eastern individuals developed the first civilizations or civilized cultures. And while these cultures flourished, Europeans or Caucasians had generally not yet developed beyond savagery.

Further, significant elements of Western culture came from other parts of the world, including the first civilizations and Asia. Also, individuals of all races, ethnicities and many national origins have contributed to the development of Western culture over the centuries and continue to do so today.

And if current trends continue, Western culture may be taken to new heights in Asia in this century or the coming centuries rather than in areas dominated by Caucasians or people of European ancestry.

It is also worth noting that the Aztec and Inca cultures of Central and South America, respectively, were in some ways nearly as advanced as European culture at the time, despite the fact that they were relatively young. Had the Aztec and Inca civilizations not been conquered and had more time to develop, it is conceivable that their cultures may have come to rival, even surpass, European culture.

All of this is to show that race has nothing (or at most virtually nothing) to do with a culture’s level of development. A certain race may appear to be more advanced at a given time, but, over the broad view of history, it is clear that no race is superior or innately more capable than others.

Individuals of any race could have conceivably created the first civilized cultures—and individuals of any race could have conceivably first developed Western or advanced culture. In other words, Western culture is in no way inherently Caucasian or European.

The level of a culture’s development is ultimately explained, not by race, but by the fundamental ideas of the culture—particularly by the degree to which reason is embraced as the guide to thought and action.

Western Culture Superior?

Many people strongly disagree with the belief that a culture can be considered better than others. They do so because they view a culture’s level of development as a product of race. As a result, they view any claim of cultural superiority as a claim of racial superiority—and, accordingly, condemn the idea of cultural superiority as racist. However, as we have seen, a culture’s level of development is not a product of race.

People also object to the idea of cultural supremacy because they do not believe that culture can be judged objectively. This, too, is incorrect. The proper standard for objectively evaluating a culture is by the degree to which its core values are for or against human life.[4] A pro-human life culture recognizes the requirements of proper human survival, namely the values of reason, individualism, happiness,rights and capitalism.

In other words, pro-human life culture is Western culture. And the extent to which a nation embraces Western culture is the extent to which it is free, prosperous, modern and peaceful—that is, supportive of human life. One need only look at life expectancies around the world to see that this is true.

Life expectancy in nations where Western culture dominates (abbreviated list)

Australia 81
United States 78
Japan 81
Israel 79
Italy 80


Life expectancy in nations where nonwestern culture dominates but Western culture still has modest presence (abbreviated list)

Philippines 70
Russia 67
Honduras 69
Pakistan 63
Senegal 59


Life expectancy in nations where nonwestern culture overwhelmingly dominates and Western culture has little or no presence (abbreviated list)

Liberia 40
Nigeria 47
Angola 39
Zimbabwe 40
Laos 55

Source: CIA World Factbook 2006 

Objectively judging cultures is not only legitimate and possible; it is ultimately a life and death issue. And when cultures are judged, it is clear that Western culture, with its life-giving and life-sustaining magnificence, is the greatest culture—deserving universal admiration and praise.