Thursday, September 17, 2015

587: Finding the individual....

I am glad to tell you, that I can resume classes again. The stressfull and distracting  situation in RL is over earlier than expected.
We sold the house and have bought a new one. Now it is just a matter of time, during which I can not sit still and do nothing.
So, let’s continue our philosophical quest about existentialism and free will.
I refer to existentialism, not because this is such an important philosophy, but primarily, because it focuses so explicitly on the individual.
In my opinion, contrary to other cultures and even groups in our own Western culture, we have made the individual the centre of our interpretation of existence.
In other words, the individual is the primary value in how we define human life. We, for instance, formulated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
They are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being," 
and which are "inherent in all human beings" regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.
We have a number of words of this characteristic of our culture: individual, person, personal identity, the self, and so on.
As the diagram behind me shows, it is not an obvious fact, that the centre of values, which determines our behaviour, is the individual.
In several cultures, ideologies and the like, the individual is subordinated to other values, varying from gods to collectives.
And as you can read in the diagram I relate this subordination to degrees of irrationality and rationality. 
Or, to say it in another way, the outcome of evolution is eventually a rational being.
That means, the reason why homo sapiens is a unique being on this planet, is due to its ability to define reality in a rational way.
Based on this view I”d like to use the idea of methodological individualism, a phrase coined by a student of Max Weber, Joseph Schumpeter in 1908.
In Economy and Society (1922), Weber himself articulates the central precept of methodological individualism in the following way: 
When discussing social phenomena, we often talk about various “social collectivities, such as states, associations, business corporations, foundations, as if they were individual persons”.
Thus we talk about them having plans, performing actions, suffering losses, and so forth. The doctrine of methodological individualism does not take issue with these ordinary ways of speaking, 
it merely stipulates that “in sociological work these collectivities must be treated as solely the resultants and modes of organization of the particular acts of individual persons, 
since these alone can be treated as agents in a course of subjectively understandable action”.
The question of today is, when did we discover the fact that we are individuals? You could point at Aristotle, but I am thinking of another moment in history.
The moment, that man realised that he was NOT the centre of the universe, but just an inhabitant of one of the many planets in the universe.
I am thinking of men like Copernicus (1473 -  1543),  Kepler (1571 – 1630) , the German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer, Tycho Brahe, (1546 – 24 October 1601),
and in philosophy I am thinking of Descartes, who made the individual mind the starting point of our consciousness.
From there we’ll pay a visit to a number of philosophers, who described the individual. Men like Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, maybe Hegel, Kierkegaard, Sartre  and so on.
So, get ready, we’ve work to do. Thank you…the floor is yours…
Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: I could add....after we have explored the individual we'll investigate the question if he has a free will or not
[13:21] Ciera Bergman is online.
[13:21] Wesley Regenbogen: free will isn't that a human right ?
[13:21] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...feel free...:-)
[13:22] herman Bergson: a human right?
[13:22] Max Chatnoir: I think the rationality to irrationality is an interesting one.
[13:22] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): is caught up in the "Individual - realization"
[13:22] Areyn Laurasia: :)
[13:22] Wesley Regenbogen: well, I mean, everyone has the right to do what they want, right ?
[13:22] Mandy Arabello: So are you suggesting, Herman, that man was not self aware as an individual before they discovered that the earth is not the centre of the universe ?
[13:23] Areyn Laurasia: if it doesn't intrude upon the rights of others...
[13:23] herman Bergson: yes Wesley..
[13:23] herman Bergson: Interesting point Mandy.....
[13:23] herman Bergson: That is not what I want to say.....
[13:23] Max Chatnoir: It seems to me that individualism could also be irrational.
[13:23] herman Bergson: of course consciousness leads to selfawareness...
[13:24] Wesley Regenbogen: I hope you don't mind me as a reporter being here, Herman
[13:24] Max Chatnoir: But maybe self responsibility leads to more careful thought?
[13:24] herman Bergson: But my point is that like the diagram tries to show subordinated his individuality to other values...
[13:24] Jarapanda Snook: I should think that humans were self aware 2 million years ago
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is your free will Wesley...
[13:25] CB Axel: °͜°
[13:25] Wesley Regenbogen: I see
[13:25] Wesley Regenbogen: :D
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why 2 million years ago? Jarapanda
[13:25] herman Bergson: again...self awareness is not identical to the individualism we experience today
[13:26] Jarapanda Snook: that's about the time when we start to think of humans as being a separate species
[13:26] Jarapanda Snook: whales are self aware they say
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes....look at the diagram at the wall..homo habilis, australopiticus...etc :-)
[13:27] Jarapanda Snook: so do they regard themselves as individuals?
[13:27] Max Chatnoir: I missed the last meeting, so I'm not sure what you said about individualism before in terms of rationality.
[13:27] Wesley Regenbogen: but the question remains : "Are we alone in the universe or not ?" Is humankind aware that they might not be alone in the universe ?
[13:27] CB Axel: So you're not asking when we became self aware, but when did we begin to look at individual freedoms and responsibilities rather than our responsibilities to our families, nations, etc?
[13:27] herman Bergson: Indeed CB.....
[13:27] Jarapanda Snook: the odds are stacked against us ever having come into existence
[13:27] Max Chatnoir: I saw an interesting article recently that connected religion with an increase in human group size, and therefore a decrease in community acquaintance.
[13:28] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Awesome summery CB, thank you
[13:28] herman Bergson: During the Middle Ages for instance man was one of God's sheep :-)
[13:28] CB Axel: Some still are.
[13:28] CB Axel: Or so they think.
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is what I said, too :-)
[13:28] Wesley Regenbogen: personally, I don't believe in God, lol, but that's a personal thing, of course
[13:29] Areyn Laurasia: what about the homo naledi...?
[13:29] herman Bergson: some cultures don't value individuality at all
[13:29] Max Chatnoir: Chimps recognize themselves as individuals, if there is anything to the mirror test.
[13:29] herman Bergson: indeed Max...and Homo nadeli is still a riddle
[13:30] herman Bergson: brain mass for instance doesn’t relate to ours at all
[13:30] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): not according to the scientists working for National Geographic, Herman
[13:30] Max Chatnoir: About like that of a chimp, I think.
[13:30] herman Bergson: that so Chantal?
[13:30] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): I will pass you the link
[13:30] herman Bergson: What info have you got on that?
[13:31] herman Bergson: To get to the point again.....
[13:31] herman Bergson: what fascinates me is the fact that we see ourselves as individuals...
[13:32] herman Bergson: and that this idea emerged around 1600
[13:32] herman Bergson: and that it is typical for Western culture....
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): wasn't that a;ways the case?
[13:32] herman Bergson: no...
[13:32] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Naledi article:
[13:33] herman Bergson: We invented this concept
[13:33] Jarapanda Snook: how can you be so sure?
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i can’t imagine that i'm not an individual
[13:33] CB Axel: We were individuals but subject to the will of God.
[13:33] Max Chatnoir: I think that having names must connect to the idea of individuality.
[13:33] herman Bergson: How can I be so sure.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: good question....
[13:33] Max Chatnoir: We don't name sheep, at least not sheep in large herds.
[13:33] herman Bergson: are philosophers ever sure about something :-))
[13:33] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Good point Max
[13:33] Areyn Laurasia: how about... I thought I was a unique individual until I went out into the world and I find there are people who are similar?
[13:33] CB Axel: So we were not individuals. We were parts of God's plan for the world.
[13:34] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): eeek CB
[13:34] Jossy Jacobus is online.
[13:34] Jarapanda Snook: You will need to convince me that we are part of anyone's plan
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): if you believe there is a God, maybe it's true
[13:34] Areyn Laurasia: more like one big experiment to see what happens next?
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but I don't believe there is one
[13:34] herman Bergson: That Jarapanda is exactly the point....
[13:35] Areyn Laurasia: but that's speculative.
[13:35] CB Axel: I'm not saying I believe that. I'm saying that before 1600, that's what people believed.
[13:35] CB Axel: And some still do.
[13:35] herman Bergson: if we are individuals we define ourselfves.....create our own plan
[13:35] CB Axel: Just not me.
[13:35] Mandy Arabello: surely belief in a God is an individual's response to ingnorance?
[13:35] herman Bergson: that is a clear statement Mandy :-)
[13:36] Areyn Laurasia: if the concept of individuals has existed a few million years ago...  why do we only look at it in terms of centuries?
[13:36] CB Axel: Try to look at this from the eyes of a 16th century person.
[13:36] Mandy Arabello: as time goes by we know more about the world, are laess ignorant, and thus less religious ?
[13:36] Max Chatnoir: On the response to a reduction in supervision in larger groups.
[13:36] herman Bergson: somewhat along the line or rationality vs. irrationality
[13:36] Max Chatnoir: Invent God as the ultimate alpha male.
[13:36] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): it should work like that, Mandy
[13:37] Mandy Arabello: for me it seems to work like that...
[13:37] Mandy Arabello: 2000 years ago humans knew little of the world...
[13:37] Mandy Arabello: so they invented a god to explain thunder, for example...
[13:37] herman Bergson: That is what is happening in Europe Mandy....
[13:37] Mandy Arabello: now we know what causes thunder so we don't need a god to explain it
[13:37] herman Bergson: Not only among christian people....but also among islamic people....
[13:39] Max Chatnoir: The people who wrote the article about "moralizing gods" and population size, suggested that the shift was to gods that were making rules about human behavior.  Rather than just gods that took care of trees and the ocean and lightning and so forth.
[13:39] Jarapanda Snook: you think, Herman, that atheism is growing amongst the islamic world??
[13:39] herman Bergson: at the end we are alone as an idividual only supported by our rationality.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: It is growing among islamic people in Europe Jarapanda....
[13:40] Jarapanda Snook: well, there is hope for us yet, then
[13:40] Max Chatnoir: Herman you have got us back onto God by putting that big pink block at the bottom of your diagram!
[13:40] herman Bergson: and even in islamic countries there are people who now dare to talk about atheism...
[13:40] Areyn Laurasia: :)
[13:40] Max Chatnoir: I hope that is true, herman.
[13:40] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): me too... the exodus scares me really
[13:40] CB Axel: If they're atheist, they're not Islamic. ;) hehehe
[13:40] Max Chatnoir: But apostasy can sure get you into trouble there.
[13:40] Areyn Laurasia: why do we need to go back to the idea of a God when we are talking about individuals? are we not capable of thinking for ourselves?
[13:40] Jarapanda Snook: in my view the sooner that the worls converts to atheism the safer we will all be
[13:40] herman Bergson: I am in the top of the diagram, Max...not at the bottom :-))
[13:41] Chantal (nymf.hathaway):
[13:41] herman Bergson: I'd agree to  that Jarapanda :-)
[13:41] Max Chatnoir: I know, Herman, but it's such teeny font.  :-)
[13:41] Wesley Regenbogen: I'm going to go offline now
[13:41] Wesley Regenbogen: I'm going to sleep now
[13:41] Areyn Laurasia: enjoy
[13:41] Wesley Regenbogen: bye
[13:41] Wesley Regenbogen: see you
[13:41] Wesley Regenbogen: take care
[13:41] Areyn Laurasia: bye, Wesley
[13:41] CB Axel: Bye, Wesley.
[13:41] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): bye
[13:41] herman Bergson: We still have a long way to go the get the font larger MAx :-))
[13:42] Max Chatnoir: Invert the pyramid.  :-)
[13:42] Areyn Laurasia: if you ask a baby.. the idea of being a unique individual and a will of his/her own probably starts about four/five months..
[13:43] herman Bergson: that is indeed a kind of evolutionary perspective Max :-)
[13:43] Jarapanda Snook: 3-4 years Areyn, I should say
[13:43] CB Axel: Areyn, and it's at that point that the parents probably start taking the kid to church and teaching it to not be an individual any more. °͜°
[13:43] Areyn Laurasia: just personal observation
[13:44] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): long before they took it to church... their ideas about life were clear to the child
[13:44] Jarapanda Snook: at 2 years kids are aware that they want something, but no0t usually self aware in the sense that they don't see themselves as the centre of the universe
[13:45] Areyn Laurasia: they are even aware of the concept of fairness at three months
[13:45] herman Bergson: Piaget thinks different, Jarapanda :-)
[13:45] Max Chatnoir: I think our dogs understand fairness.
[13:45] Jarapanda Snook: taking kids to church and indoctrinating them is my idea of child abuse
[13:45] CB Axel: Me, too, Jarapanda.
[13:45] Max Chatnoir: If one gets a treat, the other wants one too.
[13:45] herman Bergson: in the cognitive development of a child it is for a long period egocentric....
[13:45] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): same
[13:45] Areyn Laurasia: still remembers the youtube link you gave in one of the classes here :)
[13:46] herman Bergson: it has to learn that others can feel pain too forinstance
[13:46] Jarapanda Snook: my granddaughter is now fully self aware at 4
[13:46] Jarapanda Snook: at 2 she was clever, but wouldn’t have been able to philosophise about her individuality
[13:47] Max Chatnoir: What would she say if you asked her what it meant to be her?
[13:47] Jarapanda Snook: I'll ask her next time I see her...
[13:47] Areyn Laurasia: :)
[13:47] Max Chatnoir: Do you have those conversations?  I wish I'd thought of that when my daughter was that age.  :-)
[13:47] Jarapanda Snook: but I think she would have an answer
[13:48] Max Chatnoir: I think she probably would.
[13:48] Jarapanda Snook: you don't with your own kids - you are to busy
[13:48] Areyn Laurasia: shall I experiment with that? XD
[13:48] Max Chatnoir: I think you are right, Jarapanda.
[13:48] Jarapanda Snook: only with grandkids do you have time for such reflection
[13:49] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): not really Jarapanda...depends on the parents
[13:49] CB Axel: What's the point of having kids if you're not going to experiment on them. °͜°
[13:49] herman Bergson: I don't think the little one will have an abstract concept such as individuality....
[13:49] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): :)))
[13:49] Areyn Laurasia: but they are their own individuals... ! :)
[13:49] herman Bergson: as opposed to collectiveness
[13:49] Max Chatnoir: Ow!  Just don't break the skin.  :-)
[13:49] Jarapanda Snook: at 2 my granddaughter had no abstract concepts - at 4 she has plenty!!
[13:50] Jarapanda Snook: she plans and imagines the outcomes of her actions
[13:50] Max Chatnoir: I remember my kid's definition of like and love when she was that age.
[13:50] Max Chatnoir: Like is a big heart.  Love is a big explanation point.
[13:50] Max Chatnoir: sorry, exclamation point.
[13:50] Jarapanda Snook: :-)
[13:51] Jarapanda Snook: just looking at the blogspot stats, Herman
[13:52] herman Bergson: I assume kids don't understand the concept of individuality in the more philosophical sense as we try to do here
[13:52] Jarapanda Snook: I forgot that all this gets beamed out to the world hehe
[13:52] herman Bergson: ahh  yes Jarapanda :-)
[13:52] Max Chatnoir: Oops.
[13:52] Areyn Laurasia: :)
[13:52] herman Bergson: Now the rest of the world may learn about your granddaughter :-))
[13:52] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): being proud of your granddaughter... is a very beautiful thing, Jarapanda
[13:53] Areyn Laurasia: relax...
[13:53] herman Bergson: Indeed it is Chantal....
[13:53] Jarapanda Snook: I first became aware of that when I googles my SL name once and there was all this stuff I'd said right here
[13:53] herman Bergson: Is that so? :-))
[13:53] Areyn Laurasia: why does the nation come before the tribe in the diagram?
[13:53] Max Chatnoir: I was wondering that also, Areyn.
[13:53] Jarapanda Snook: HAHAHA - I spend 2 days a week with her so I have had a good chance to see her grow
[13:54] herman Bergson: Because nations can be composed of many tribes...
[13:54] Jarapanda Snook: with my own kids we were just hard working
[13:54] herman Bergson: while tribes just stick to their own territory
[13:55] Max Chatnoir: So a tribe is smaller?
[13:55] herman Bergson: I don’t think it is a matter of size, Max...
[13:55] herman Bergson: just of territorial behavior
[13:55] Max Chatnoir: Well, I guess your arrow is rationality, not size, isn't it?
[13:56] herman Bergson: the size of the slices in the triangle try to visualize what is subordinated to what
[13:57] Areyn Laurasia: I guess tribes do live beyond any typical geographical boundary of a nation.
[13:57] herman Bergson: this model kind of answers the questions...where do people get their values from which guide their life
[13:57] CB Axel: It makes sense when you put it that way, Herman.
[13:58] Max Chatnoir: Yes.
[13:58] herman Bergson: and the source of these values is either irrationality in some degree up to rationality
[13:59] Max Chatnoir: There seem to be multiple variables operating here.
[13:59] herman Bergson: Like the Declaration of Human Rights is the product of a rational attempt
[14:00] herman Bergson: ok...the next lectures I'll try to focus on the question...what is the individual.....
[14:00] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Time to turn in for me :( Herman I hope you had a beautiful day, thank you for activating the grey mass again Enjoy everyone, see you soon :)
[14:00] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): truste Chantal
[14:00] CB Axel: Bye, Chantal.
[14:01] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Jij ook
[14:01] herman Bergson: Thank you Chantal :-)
[14:01] Areyn Laurasia: pleasant dreams, Chantal
[14:01] Mandy Arabello: Night Chantal
[14:01] Max Chatnoir: Thanks, Herman!  You guys always get my brain buzzing.
[14:01] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Waves
[14:01] Chantal (nymf.hathaway) is offline.
[14:01] herman Bergson: I know..time to return to the Olympus :-))
[14:01] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Chantal:-)) sleep well
[[14:01] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman and class!
[14:01] Max Chatnoir: I must leave also.
[14:01] herman Bergson: you are welcome , Bergie :-)
[14:01] Jarapanda Snook: see you next time guys
[14:01] Areyn Laurasia: Thanks for the thoughts and a very happy birthday to you
[14:01] Max Chatnoir: Thanks for reconvening this, Herman.
[14:02] Mandy Arabello: happy Birthday Herman :-)
[14:02] herman Bergson: Thank you all.....Class dismissed :-)
[14:02] bergfrau Apfelbaum: clapclap**
[14:02] herman Bergson: I made 66 today Mandy :-))
[14:02] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[14:02] CB Axel: Herman, I hope you had a lovely birthday, and I'm so glad that the problems you're having are working themselves out. °͜°
[14:02] Guestboook van tipjar stand: Mandy Arabello donated L$50. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[14:02] Areyn Laurasia: still young :)
[14:03] herman Bergson: oh yes :-)
[14:03] Max Chatnoir: Happy Birthday!
[14:03] CB Axel: Are we meeting again on Thursday then?
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:                   ¸.•´¯`•.¸
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:             ¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:       ¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:  ♫♪♪ HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY ♪♪♫ 
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: `•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸ herman ¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:       `•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:             `•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum:                   `•.¸.¸.•´
[14:03] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol Bergie...that's nice
[14:03] herman Bergson: Yes CB...I take up the standard schedule again....
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: it is in the folder:-) Beertje
[14:03] herman Bergson: Tuesday and Thursday...
[14:03] Max Chatnoir: /see you all Thursday?
[14:04] CB Axel: OK. Great! I'll see you all on Thursday.
[14:04] Areyn Laurasia: take care out there :)

[14:04] Max Chatnoir: Bye now.

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