Individualism: Allowed Access

Politology Bulletin 80:35-45 (2018)
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The purpose of the article is to identified the origin and essence of Western individualism. Methods of research. I used the methodology of post-nonclassical metaphysics of history, as well as the methods of epistemological polytheism and comparative. Results. The first sprouts of individualism can be detected in Greek poleis. It is the crisis of the polis system in Ancient Greece that predetermined the disappointment of the Greeks in the old collectivist ideals. Roman collectivism quite naturally got along with ideas about civil liberties and the dignity of an individual citizen. The idea of citizenship was brought to the theoretical perfection by moving it beyond the boundaries of city walls. The Christian ideal is not a self-sufficient person, but the community of believers. It is the weakening of the church’s position and the strengthening of the influence of Antiquity that led to the formation of the Western style of thinking, which became the basis of the new European civilizational project. John Locke rethought the Hobbesian “Roman” theory of the social contract, thereby laying the foundations of liberalism, and hence of individualism. However, radically changing the hierarchical society, even the shaken revolution and the restoration of the Stuarts, no theoretical work could not. But in the New World, free from class barriers, Locke’s ideas found a much more fertile soil. Conclusions. The Western version of individualism emerges as a civilizational ideal at the junction of two completely different paradigms — the Ancient (Greek and Roman) and the Christian. Being present in the “body” of the West, individualism could not access its code. The latter was guarded by numerous barriers, among which the Catholic collectivism and the class divisions of hierarchical society were the most powerful guards. In American society, security barriers were significantly weaker, which allowed individualism to develop in the United States. Then American individualism returned to Europe and is now perceived as an integral element of Western civilization.



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Alex V. Halapsis
Dnipropetrovsk State University of Internal Affairs

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