Individualism And Its Place In Society

1186 words - 5 pages

In their literary journeys to describe a great society, both John Stuart Mill and Alexis De Tocqueville encounter the dilemma of how to engage the people of a nation so that they take an active interest in their country and themselves, "The greatest difficulty to be encountered does not lie in the appreciation of means toward an acknowledged end, but in the indifference of persons in general to the end itself" (Mill, 120). In response to the question how does a government keep its citizens locked in to the events occurring around them, Mill and De Tocqueville both offer different answers. De Tocqueville proposes the very American idea that free institutions (i.e. unions) keep the populace interested, further he feels that individualism has little or no place in democracy at all. In stark contrast, Mill suggests that the individuality of a human should be nurtured to an extent where, " 'Individual vigour and manifold diversity' combine themselves in 'originality'" (Mill, 121). The choice as to which of these two very different theories lays the foundation for a stronger democratic nation comes down to a decision of whether or not individualism has any benefit whatsoever on a society. In response to this choice, I must posit that Mill's society, which has a place for individualism emerges from this debate as the stronger of the two. While it would seem logical that every person be entirely immersed in the affairs of their home- (town, state, country, etc…) as De Tocqueville holds, Mill's thesis makes allowance for the simple fact that human nature does not always drive one to look to the wellbeing of the democracy. Rather, sometimes it is our simple nature and in fact (as Mill would say) obligation to look to ourselves from time to time and consider that nurturing of the individual must be as important as the developing of a nation. Somewhere John Locke is smiling. Alexis De Tocqueville states in Of Individualism In Democratic Countries, "Individualism is a mature and calm feeling, which disposes each member of the community to sever himself from the mass of his fellows and to draw apart…" (De Tocqueville, 98). Thus, De Tocqueville's opening of the chapter is dynamic, snide, intriguing and ultimately, shortsighted. De Tocqueville uses very friendly sounding words like "community" and "society" to paint the picture of a very beneficial institution and way of life. Mill, however, uses a different and perhaps more accurate word, "custom." Mill rightly feels that the acting of an individual according to his society is no different than conformity. Mill says of custom, The human faculties of perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference are exercised only in making a choice. He who does anything because it is the custom makes no choice. He gains no practice either in discerning or in desiring what is best (Mill, 122).Mill's argument here clearly states the benefits of individualism...

Find Another Essay On Individualism And Its Place In Society

WWWI and its place in European history

1133 words - 5 pages predominately agrarian society to an industrial society. As with any societal change, there is disruption in the way that people think and act and their belief system, that which was ingrained in them in the old societal structure, is forced to either change or be at constant odds with the new ways. For the new generation, just formulating their own beliefs, what they had been taught and what their parents had explained to them no longer applies

Everything In Its Place Essay

809 words - 4 pages distended up the glass. His pedipalp appendages twitched in the air, sensing something. Six black eyes glistened with light and seemingly landed on her mother’s soul. He crawled towards her and wrapped his two front legs over the backside of her shell. Her mother’s soul squeaked and gears clinked. Melissa put the wrench back in its drawer. Everything had purpose and place, she thought, even Fido.

Everything In Its Place

896 words - 4 pages When one peeled back the layers of the soul, the parts weren’t so indiscernible. If you looked close enough, you could see that everything had structure and function, purpose and place, even a soul. Melissa’s sister, Annette, kept their mother’s in a mason jar in her bedroom closet on the top shelf, said I’ll never let the bitch free. One might say Annette had a sore spot when it came to their mother, and it must have throbbed like a nailed

Everything in its Place

1458 words - 6 pages students which center he or she is moving to next helps keep things organized. If the rotation is always done in the same order students will be able to anticipate the move without having to watch the chart. When centers are not as structured and students are free to pick based on interest having signs posted at the center, with picture to say how many students may be in the center is helpful. Giving each student a name tag to place on the sign

Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Society

2150 words - 9 pages I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.-Booker T. WashingtonThe historical text, Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Life is a document that meticulously details the life, achievements, viewpoints, opposition and controversy of the famed civil rights figure, Booker T. Washington.Booker T

Medical Marijuana and It’s Place in Today’s Society

1780 words - 8 pages marijuana for its use in today’s medicine cabinets. Why should marijuana be different and not considered for the same research and studies of all potential medicines? The answer is very simple; it shouldn’t be treated different than other drugs. There are efforts underway to legalize medical marijuana in the United States. These efforts have dramatically increased in the last few years. There are a number of states that have passed laws so

Facebook and Its Affect in Our Society

717 words - 3 pages users with safety, security, and control. The social media site lets individuals control how their fellow Facebook friends portray them. Pictures, statuses and posts on friend's walls manage how people can perceive you. It also provides protection from seeing people's reactions in an objectified type of way. Facebook's protection creates a positive atmosphere for its users by only having a 'like' button. Users strive for 'likes' on their posts. It

Individualism in Samurai Culture and History

1114 words - 4 pages socioeconomic independence in the system of vassalage created a basic sentiment of samurai culture, embracing the individualistic pursuit of a reputation of strength and power (Ikegami 83). Because of this framework of society individualism emerged as a vital characteristic of the samurai life. The characteristics of samurai military showed an intense sense of individualism. Throughout samurai history, samurai battled for their spot in Japan’s

Diversity and Its Role in Society and Education

2873 words - 11 pages its citizens enrich the nation. The importance and occurrence of diversity in American society especially in the education system has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. During the 1950’s the definition of diversity was drawn strictly along racial lines. The implementation and existence of segregation policies not only embodied social attitudes, but it also ensured that the majority controlled all aspects of life. However, with the

The Women's Place in Medieval Society

613 words - 2 pages Life in the medieval society was one of the most painful for women. It was evident by the high level of exploitation and oppression of women. At a time when wealthy men enjoyed stylish life, women had very hard times. Comfort was not a privilege but a luxury that only few women could afford. Men completely dominated the society and any concrete decision to be made was their preserve (Spielvogel 179). Women were not consulted even in matters

Euthanasia's Place in a Civilized Society

1115 words - 4 pages Euthanasia's Place in a Civilized Society Euthanasia beyond any doubt does not have a place in our civilised society. It is undoubtedly murder and people who are severely disabled or terminally ill should unquestionably still die naturally. Euthanasia is the act of causing somebody to die gently and without pain. there are two types of euthanasia. One is active euthanasia which involves a lethal injection given to

Similar Essays

Pornography And Its Place In Our Society

1104 words - 4 pages pornography has no place in our society, and therefore, should be banned by our government. I will attempt to explain to you, and clarify, why pornography not only should not be forbidden, but has a definite place in our society.The United States of America affords all of its citizens certain unalienable rights. These rights are outlined in the first amendment of a document known as the Constitution of the United States. The first amendment

Strong Individualism Vs. Strong Government This Essay Is About Wither Or Not Society Should Embrace Altruism And Whether Its The Governments Place To Do So Or The Individuals

1499 words - 6 pages Society has gone through its ups and downs, but what is it that makes society turn for the better or worse? Many philosophers have explained what they think is wrong with society in their point in time and argued that it boils down to a reign of a strong government or a rise in the strength of individualism. Each author states their viewpoints of how the government should or should not intervene with society and if they believe that the strength

Methods And Myths Of Traditional African Medicines And Its Place In Modern Society

1617 words - 6 pages Methods and Myths of Traditional African Medicines and its Place in Modern Society Traditional African medicines, and the spiritual healers that administer these medicines are an important part of African society. For many centuries and even millenniums these healers with there spiritual and naturalistic remedies have been responsible for taking care of the African world as we know it. Traditional African medicines have been a greater

Individualism Or Collectivism In Society Essay

1152 words - 5 pages Debate Question: Which ideological group has had the greatest impact on modern society? Individualism or Collectivism. Terms: Individualism-> when you value the freedom and worth of the individual, sometimes over the security and harmony of the group or a belief in the importance of the individual and the virtue of self-reliance and personal independence Collectivism-> is basically when you think that values and the goals of