View Full Version : What Is The Individual?

Monday, December 15th, 2008, 04:53 AM
What is the individual?
Sloterdijk (as mentioned in the article 'We are the future') based his ideas on the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) in order to closer analyze the meaning of liberalism's basic building block, namely the "individual". Ignorant about what has been stolen from him, ignorant about the meaningless and tyrannical state that controls him. Hobbes reduced the human experience to the purely biological order to be able to reach its individualism and its defense of "Leviathan", the strong State.

According to Hobbes, the fundamental human drive and motivation is self-preservation and fear, moreover, all people are equal in the sense that they can kill each other (through the list or group). This combination of lethal equality and the horror of death allows people to submit to a ruler who gives them some sort of patronage from each other.

"The individual" is nothing but a selfish and anti-social monkey who is afraid to die, if you're going to crudely define Sloterdijks, Hobbes Interpretation. This makes the apparent paradox, where self-proclaimed individualists often quite, aggressively restrict individuals' freedoms, this gets explained by Sloterdijk highlighting the close relationship between the individual and Leviathan.

He also mentions how deviant, and intimidating, the times of nobility becomes to such individualism, as they typically saw it as a noble brand to have sat on death horror (a view that echoed in the 1930's revolutionary movements, most famously in the battle cry Viva la Muerte).

Such perspective are the modern individualist forced to cast suspicion on or ridicule, in order so that not their own model, built on the lowest common denominator, would fall to pieces. What we would like to add to Sloterdijks text is that the "individual" is something that every higher type of human should overcome.

The Masses rise and the mass society.
Sloterdijk also go into how egalitarianism gradually forced back and mounted down Old Europe and its hierarchical distinctions. This is again a theme we recognize from the New Right, where individualism, universalism and egalitarianism rightly identified as the ideas that has led to mass migration and the family crisis.

Sloterdijk link this to the "death of God" (as pagan perhaps you want to call it "twilight of the Gods", the idea is still basically the same). When the differences between people no longer can be attributed to divine grace, as is always the argument "but why should you think highly of yourself, who are you to think you are anything? You have not done anything special, other than to be born "close at hand.

This has been directed against the nobility, the clergy, against the wise, and then also against the masses early leaders, namely the bourgeoisie with its cult of "genius". In our time it is directed against the "grace" it means to be an American for an example, or a white, heterosexual male.

Sloterdijk also describes the two forms of contempt found in the mass society and partially the masses contempt of the elites, and elites contemptuous of the masses. He argues that contempt is a fundamental sense in a society where everyone is supposed to believe that they are equal, based on the paradoxical idea of a privilege that applies to all.

Sloterdijks reasoning base this from Nietzsche, to recognize both the slave morality and resentment in the mass and its predecessor attacks on everything from nobles to the Swedes or the Americans:
If there were nobles, how would I be able to live with not being noble? So there is no nobility!

- From the Swedish Blogger AndelimaSephirioth