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The Idea of Individuality: Origins, Meaning, and Political Significance

Lewis P. Hinchman
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Aug., 1990), pp. 759-781
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2131826
Page Count: 23
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The Idea of Individuality: Origins, Meaning, and Political Significance
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Abstract

The contemporary liberal/communitarian debate depicts the self as essentially static and unspontaneous: in the first instance, as a detached agent of choice equipped with de facto unexamined desires; in the second, as (optimally) the embodiment of virtues and narratives imbedded in socially established practices. The notion of individuality, as it developed from Goethe and Mill to the present, suggests a way to rethink this dichotomy. Individuality--as distinguished from individualism--evokes the notion of personal identity constituted both through reflective reexamination of the givens of life and through the continuous integration of diverse traditions and influences into a coherent whole.

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