Review of Metaphysics 41 (2):381-383 (1987)

These essays survey the logical product of Dumont's earlier classics, Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications, and From Mandeville to Marx: The Genesis and Triumph of Economic Ideology. As comparative anthropologist, Dumont sets himself two main tasks: to describe the emergence of individualism as the peculiarly modern category of explanation, and to show how this emergence has interacted with both premodern and postmodern variants of holism. This is no small task, when the author proposes to trace the lineage from the "outworldly" or anti-political individualism of early Christianity, to medieval and Germanic developments of the individualism-holism dialectic, as it ultimately ensued in the aberrant holism of the distinctly modern state of Hitler's National Socialism. Dumont's major achievement is to vindicate the claims that "nationalism" and "individualism" are not polar but complementary categories, that "the nation is precisely the type of global society which corresponds to the paramountcy of the individual as value"; and, that national egoism is just one possible form that an individualism seeking holistic expression can take.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1987412130
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