Reconsidering philosophical beliefs, reconsidering individualism.

by phil on Friday May 19, 2006 8:45 AM

I'm thinking back to a philosophy lecture that opened with the idea that philosophical positions are important because they affect everything we do. I agree. Your philosophy, which is your understanding of the way the universe works (including the existence of a supernatural being, whether you are free to make your own choices, whether truth is relative, etc..), will trickle down one way or another almost every aspect of your life. I'll illustrate some examples.

  • In epistemology, or the study of knowledge, my stance is that truth is relative. The only absolute truths are mathematics, everything else is subjective.

  • In the free will debate, I'm a determinist. I believe that everything is a cause of antecedent causes. Nobody can be truly held responsible for their actions. (However, a justice system is only effective if people are held accountable).

  • In the supernatural debate, I'm an atheist. To me, there is no other affecting forces in our lives besides the forces of nature and human beings.

  • In the "what-to-do" debate, I'm a hedonist--we should all be maximizing our own happiness.
These positions all lead to a particular persona: an individualist. I am an individualist. Cogito Ergo Sum. I think, therefore I am. Being an individualist spreads to many aspects of my life. I'm highly self-reliant. I try to take care of things myself. I listen to other people only so I can form my own analysis to stand on. I seek to understand things and then decide, rather than just guess based on what everybody else is doing. I'm a lone star, travelling often alone and working on my own projects.

But now, we come to the standard "chicken-or-the-egg" question. Did the individualist come before his solipsistic philosophies? I'd tend to think it's a co-evolution, a sort of reciprocal determinism. But then again, that's based on my determinist worldview.

I bring this up because I'm considering changing my philosophical tenents. I find that my individualist worldview brings about highly egocentric behavior. Individualists are alone too often which is just plain unhealthy. I don't really get lonely, but I don't think my life can bear as much fruit if I fly so solo.

I once took a personality test that said that there's no other personality type with which I can have a stable and intimate relationship. While they say "birds of a feather flock together," two egoists won't. I've had some close friendships in the past with male and female egoists, and they were highly tentative and context-specific. Two individualists just don't meet at the center as often.


mag said on May 19, 2006 1:40 PM:

i found this by accident, trying to find some arguments to my essay on why it's good to be stupid, roughly
i found something from december 2004, something actually quite depressing but so very true. true from my perspective.
i won't say anything wise here. just wanted to say this is the most honest and straightforward blog i have ever met. usually people are trying to hide behind nicks, styles, veils, ... you seem just to write what you think and feel. that's actually very refreshing.
but then again how do i know.
good luck with the changing your philosophy thing
do you think it works this way?
anyway, just wanted to share this comment

Creative Commons License