The individual as an historical creation

"Modern republicanism makes a vigorous distinction between private or 'selfish' motives and public or 'selfless' motives of action, that is, between the motives of the individual and those of the citizen, and of course accords priority to the latter. Ancient republicanism largely ignores this distinction. If we believe the Latin historians in particular, we see that the motives we would call 'private' invade the space we call 'public.' There is a very compelling reason for this: the domain of the individual and the private has not yet been identified as a separate domain. All the human motives are at work in the city because the city is the sole locus of action -- there is no 'civil society' where individuals would 'assert their independence as they please...'" -- Pierre Manent, Metamorphoses of the City, p. 252

4 comments:

  1. I agree the individual is an historical creation...Day 6, to be precise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Touché! But of course I do not mean that there were not different people in antiquity. But the modern notion of the individual, pursuing individual goals, free to connect and disconnect from others per his "preferences," did not exist: one was, for instance, a member of the tribe of Israel, of the lineage of so-and-so, etc.

      Delete
    2. *The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind* ...

      Delete
    3. You sure about that, Gene. I mean, just look a Lao Tzu.

      Delete