Now that I have your attention, whaddaya think? LIke I said, it's not an option. By that I mean to say that the issue must be addressed before you can get very far into the matters involved in Philosophy or philosophical thinking. You can't duck it or weasel out. If you do not deal with it, it will deal with you. For one thing your theses will have unstated, unexamined and even unknown to you; i.e. tacit, ideas on the matter that will affect how and what you think, and nature sides with the hidden flaws. If your tacit ideas are wrong then it is as if you are trying to carry watter in a plastic bag that has a leak (actuall, an unsealed seam).

You hear this word tossed about carelessly to justify all kinds of things from hermitism to solipsism. from rational ethics to savage brutality in the name e of self interest. They can't all be right. So what is individualism and is it good or bad?

Well, it is neither good or bad.

How come?

Individualism is the recongnition that the individual exists prior to, and apart from any and all groups. As a statement about existence it is a metaphysical doctrine. That means it is an unconditional, essential and therefore unchangeable fact of reality. It is neither true nor false, it just is, period end of story. That is why we speak in terms of "recognizing" it rahter than knowing or coming to a knowledge of it. It is neither good or evil. It preceeds moral judgement because it preceeds ethics becuase it is metaphysical and Metaphysics comes before Ethics. For the same reason that Metaphysics is the major irreducible primary of philophy, the individual is the irreducible primary of the group. If you doubt this, show me a group without individual members. Groups do not exist apart from individual members. and no individual is a member of all the groups that there are. Therefore the imdividual takes metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic precedence (preceed+ence) over the group. It is alos a tautology which means always true. Even if you try to deny it, it is you as an individual who is trying to deny it. In fact you can't even deny it rationally. You can do only one of two things not recognize it, in which case you are in for a disaster since you are failing to recognize an immutable characteristic of the universe, or recognize it, in which case you are on the path to wisdom. Please notice that Collectivism leads to dictatorships, bigotry, racism and other hate-based or dumb social phenomena. If you fail to recognize this immutable fact, it blows up in your face because when you fail to recognize a metaphysical fact, you fail to recognize the primacy of the universe like totally and sooner or later, the bits of truths that you had absorbed by osmosis run out and no longer serve you because you fail to replenish, update and upgrade your knowledge and mentality and you are confronted by something from beyond your range of awareness: You die (fail). It is this fact that Ayn RAnd said that she was too much of a coward to evade. or "blank out". One of the first things my Economics instructor told the class is that Economics has a dismal record of prediction. Well, why shouldn't it? The predominant vies of economics has been collectivist/Keynesian for the last 70 years despite the fact that, in the mid-1970's the Keynesians admitted that the predominant state of the economy, "stag-flation" was unexplainable by their system and didn't jibe with it at all. How come they didn't just dry up and blow away like any discredited system is plain to see. Does media-university-totalitarian complex do it for you?

Now before you ask me to explain individualism ("the individual comes before the group"): A metaphysical fact cannot be explained. Facts, particularly metaphysical facts lie at the root of and therefore preceed explanation. They are what you use for explaining. They exist a priori. A controversy arising over a claim of a metaphysical fact is settled by trying to refute it. In this case, by positing a group without individual members; Any kind of group; cats, atoms, stars, men, horses, dogs, stones or anything; even thing I could make up like h'bakatuks: Anything. Another way to try and refute a metaphysical fact is to posit a situation that would occur if the claim were false and see if such positing occurs, or to derive a corollary and see if you can find a case where it does not hold that has no intervening variable(s): Example Sound does not travel through outer spece, yet we talked to persons when they were on the moon. The intervening variable was the discovery of modulating radio waves which do travel through outer space and having a device to read that modulation at the other end of the transmission.

Why is this important or useful?

Well, the traditional defense of Egoism cites the fact that living things must exert effort to continue to live. In the case of man, Because Man cannot survive by brute effort and has to use his mind to attain those things he needs, the individual who does this has the sole claim on those things. Now, this can and will be parsed and interpreted. For example, what if the actual work is done by robots and machines, even computers, that the individual who commands them did not make, invent or discover? And we're off to the races. I can think of two lines of argument at the ends of which the matter is so balled up that you couldn't find the ends of it. Let's try this approach. Individualism is a fact, not just for living things, but for all things. the ego is a necessary characteristic of man and therefore of ecah individual pertaining to the individual and not any group. It follows then that egoism, since it is the only ethics that recognizes the primacy of the individual relataive to any group to which he may belong, is the only correct ethical system. For starters that rules altruism and collectivism out of the picture before you take them out of or even open, the box.

This establishes Egoism as the proper ethical system right off the bat. Now the collectivsit-altruist may try to undermine you by asking "Well, would it be all right to obtain what you need by theft, robbery or murder?" The answer is that theft, robbery and murder violates another individual's rights and is a vilolation of Egoism and is, in fact the paractice of the collectivist-altruist system of your opponent since that system can stand only if Egoism falls and Egoism is the ethical implementation of Individualism which is an immutable fact of the world.

Next victim.

Your opponent may try to link Egoism to Solipsism. The response is that a fact, like Individualism exists indepently of what we think. So for individualims to be in play Solipsism is out the window. If the opponent persists, I go with this. "You're coming to the point of bein a pain in the ass. Now, if your system is true, since I'm not a mashochist, you will evaporate. In fact, you wouldn't even be here to bother me with all of this because neither it nor you would occur to me".... ..."STill here, huh? I guess that settles it".

Anyone Else?

Well, are you saying that groups are "wrong"? No. We recognized the value of the principle of division of labor and specialization. If follows that individuals have a capcisty for that and an inclination to it. This requires a group setting. This inclination to such makes for enjoyment of each others' comapny. What I am saying is that groups exist relative to individual members of that group. I can think of several.

  1. Definative: Cats, dogs, men, etc.
  2. Circumstance: All the pssengers aboard... All thsoe in a place. All thise in a situation. All thsie in ... .
  3. Task: All those here to accomplish a specified state of affairs
  4. Social; Those who come together with the primary goal of sharing each others' compay for pleasure or for pleasant events.
What I am saying is that a group is relative, not absolute and it's existential roots are the members and their reasons for being there. Nor does this imply the superiority of membership or nonmembership. In some cases one is to be preferred and in others, to not be. The notion that extroverts are shallow by nature is not true. I've been in intellectual groups where there was a battle to see who was the most introverted. It is true that the majority of extroverts that you see are pretty shallow, but then, the mojority of introverts I've run into are pretty neurotic, so take your pick.

So, as I said, Individualism is not an option: It's a necessity!