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duce grain or flocks; he was no longer moved by the feudal ideals of loyalty and honor; the new ideal of an independent mind was evolving a new economic motive. The motive was coming to be self-expression or pleasure or financial profit.
Browning has given us in his Cleon his philosophy of the individual consciousness:
If in the morning of philosophy,
Ere aught had been recorded, nay perceived,
Thou, with the light now in thee, couldst have looked
Ere man, her last, appeared upon the scene
Thou wouldst have seen them perfect, and deduced
Conceding which, had Zeus then questioned thee,
Do more for visible creatures than is done?"
All's perfect else: the shell sucks fast the rock,
The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both swims
And all this joy in natural life is put
Like fire from off thy finger into each
So exquisitely perfect is the same.
But 'tis pure fire, and they mere matter are;
It has them; not they it; and so I choose
For man, thy last premeditated work
(If I might add a glory to the scheme)
That a third thing should stand apart from both,
A quality that rises in his soul,
Which, intro-active, made to supervise
And feel the force it has, may view itself,
Browning assumes that the evolution of self-con
sciousness is an end in itself. Self-consciousness exists that the self
The only thing which Zeus could add to perfect the scheme of things is the deathlessness of this introactive soul. One gets the impression that individuality is a new addition of some kind which is unique and separate from the older régime. One gets this impression from Tennyson's lines:
So rounds he to a separate mind,
And thro' the frame that binds him in
Even in the sphere of the family the doctrine of an independent inner self maintained itself. The family existed because already completed individuals formed rational contracts with each other. The individual mind was somehow linked to the instinct of sex, and marriage was therefore a compromise which supposedly independent individuals make with an animal instinct which never received overt recognition.
This philosophy of an inner individual mind, whose nature does not include those relationships to family, state, property, and vocation so essential to the biological man, expressed itself politically in the writings which aimed to interpret the American and French revolutions. According to this view the individual has an original, innate, absolute nature by which certain authority is delegated to a fictitious product of man's reason which is the state. The state is not a part of the individual's nature. The individual is thought of
as existing in his full stature in "a state of nature." The state is a compromise measure which these individuals create through contract to protect themselves against certain inconveniences in the state of nature. These arguments were a part of a process of rationalization, they constituted a mechanism of defense, through which the eighteenth century mind freed itself from institutions which had been outgrown. But unfortunately this philosophy of defense perpetuated the illusion of a self-inclosed individual mind and the idea that the state is an external and disadvantageous appendage.
Mill in his book On Liberty (1859) voiced the rights of the individual against society. There was a limit beyond which society must not go in restricting the freedom of the individual. This consciousness that the mind was blocked by an authoritative form of society threw Mill's mind back on itself. This doubling back of the mind upon itself gave him a consciousness of an individual mind separate from society. This consciousness of a mind separate from society is shown in his speaking of interests which the individual has which in no way concern other individuals. It is also seen in his statement that one's motives have nothing to do with good and bad conduct when they make no difference in one's objective deeds. Here is the assumption of an inner individual world of mind set over against an objective world of deeds and social
So deep has been this dualism of an original natural world of individual minds and a world of acquired or artificial social relations that it still persists. The
motive behind the English philosophy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the justification of the priority, the original nature, of the individual mind. This was the way in which the modern conscience transferred absolute authority from state and church to the inner world of the individual mind.
Spencer is perhaps the world's leading expositor of individualism. He makes the degree of individuality the test of any stage of evolution. The process of evolution is a process in individuation. A knowledge of anthropology and sociology had shown Spencer that there was very little individual voluntary life in primitive society. He looked upon all forms of corporate or social control as essentially immoral. Only individual, voluntary life is a morally good life to Spencer. His The Man Versus the State was published in 1884. It is a deification of the individual mind.
Indeed it may be said that western civilization has developed an "emotional complex" which centers about the idea the individual has of himself. In its extreme form the consciousness of self has prevented the growth of a real consciousness of things. This has been called "the egocentric predicament."
The problem of these thinkers was to free themselves from an externally imposed system of institutions. And they solved their problem. They pulverized all experience, including institutions, into impressions and feelings and ideas linked together by habit. Institutions were analyzed into the same sort of stuff of which the intelligent man's mind is made. Men came to see how states were made and how kings came into existence. The white light of the
Enlightenment was thrown on every custom and tradition.
As a result of this process we have substituted for the standards of family, custom, the organization of the Church, and the law of the land, the intuitions of our own individual conscience. And the overwhelming significance of such a change of thought does not strike us as peculiar because the new point of view has become an unconscious part of our thinking. Even the hopeless conflicts between our intuitions have not yet shaken our faith in their truth. The Renaissance was individualistic to the core; the Reformation, in theory at least, made the individual's conscience final in its interpretation of the Bible; the political individualism of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries defined the state as a means subordinate to the development of the individual. Throughout the whole modern development the relations which bind the individual to social institutions were regarded as accidental to the individual. Western civilization in the main still holds the individualistic point of view. Paul's inner experience, set over against the whole Jewish world; Luther's individual conscience in opposition to the papal hierarchy; Patrick Henry preaching liberty or death; Thomas Jefferson formulating the doctrine of independence, still represent the ideals in modern history that lie nearest men's hearts.
The Puritan and pioneer type of mind that settled in the United States with its ever-moving frontiers became more individualistic than the Europe it left behind because of its geographic and economic environment. We need only mention Thomas Paine, Franklin