Individualism is ... The Concept, Idea and Principles of Individualism

At the end of the ninth grade of secondary schools, students are invited to write a statement in the final exam. Often for such tasks texts are selected on various topical issues, for example, about how the idea of ​​individualism is cultivated in society. Lacking sufficient knowledge on this issue, it is much more difficult to do this work than if you prepare in advance for writing it. This article can be used as an additional material for studying the topic before passing the exam.

exam preparation

Individualism is one of the characteristics that can be inherent both to the human community as a whole and to individuals. The question of its essence and role in the life of people has been studied for several years in a number of disciplines that are collectively called behavioral. These include such branches of knowledge as psychology, philosophy, pedagogy, sociology, and many others.

The first mentions

As a rule, two terms - individualism and collectivism - are opposed to each other. If you look at the earliest scientific works in which these phenomena were mentioned, then you will notice that their authors, as a rule, gave an unambiguous assessment of these characteristics.

In ancient philosophy and medieval treatises, most often there was not a hint of considering an individual from the point of view of its relation to the norms of public morality, foundations and traditions of society.

Adam smith

The British scholar Adam Smith (for a portrait, see the illustrations above) and the Frenchman Alexis Tocqueville were the first creators of selected scientific works on this topic. They were of the opinion that individualism is the only social and personal worldview that leads to progress.

Speaking about this, they cited the example of the prehistoric societies that existed under the so-called communal system. The collectivist form of consciousness dominated in these societies.

Joint opposition to the forces of nature

The ancient people who did not understand the laws of the structure of the surrounding world and did not know more effective ways of obtaining food and building houses other than those requiring the participation of a large number of people, respectively, could not even think aboutto contrast their individuality with the team.

Separation from society, the expulsion from its ranks meant the inevitable death. In this sense, circumstances have changed little in antiquity, and even during the Middle Ages. Moreover, at that time only the very limited circle of people knew about the latest achievements of science.


We can say that the Renaissance became a transitional stage in the worldview of people. In that era, many cultural workers proclaimed the slogan that a person should be harmoniously developed. For the first time in history, the focus of attention of philosophers was on the individual, not on the state, the family, or other public institutions. Thus, it can be argued that it was the artists of the Renaissance that first expressed the thoughts that became the forerunners of individualism.

Individualism and collectivism in various areas of life

Speaking about these phenomena, it is worth mentioning that they are interpreted differently in many areas of human knowledge. Adam Smith and Alexis Tocqueville were political scientists and sociologists. This means that the idea of ​​individualism first appeared precisely in the depths of these sciences.

Subsequently, she was picked up by loyalists.

The role of personality in history

Over time, these ideas were formed into a teaching, which was called methodological individualism.

His followers believed that the role of various human communities in world history was greatly exaggerated.

several matches

Groups of people should not be considered following the same principles that are used in the study of individuals. Ultimately, society is nothing more than a collection of people. Therefore, exploring various historical events, you need to rely not on the psychology of the masses, but on information about individual characters and destinies. The presentation of the idea of ​​individualism of this kind in the extreme form of its manifestation may look as follows.

All historical events, such as wars, revolutions, migrations of peoples, are the ideas of individuals, which were then picked up by the masses.

Another point of view

In contrast to this theory, there is another, which at various times was expressed by supporters of such teachings as holism and historicism. These thinkers argued that the individual can not play any significant role in the scale of world civilization.

All the processes occurring in the sphere of politics and economics, as a rule, follow the same scenarios. The same can be said about the fate of individual peoples and states.Each of these social formations goes through the stages of generation, development, flourishing, extinction and death. According to some historians, the majority of large, highly developed civilizations have existed for about 2,000 years. There are some exceptions (India, China), but they, as is commonly believed, only confirm the rule.

Philosophy of Tolstoy

The author of the novel “War and Peace” held a similar opinion. In his immortal work, he expressed the idea that an individual person is not able to influence the course of history. All global events taking place on the globe are predetermined from above.

Therefore, if we consider his philosophical system through the prism of individualism and collectivism, we can come to the conclusion that Leo Tolstoy, undoubtedly, adhered to the second direction.

Collectivism and socialism

Proponents of individualistic theories in historical science in the 19th century were subjected to numerous socialist attacks. According to the latter, those researchers who are inclined to consider human societies only as assemblies of individuals are likened to fools, who, seeing many trees, refuse to call them forests.

Karl Marx also rejected the idea of ​​methodological individualism. He argued that regardless of the actions and desires of individuals, all civilizations pass from the primitive communal system to capitalism, the disintegration of which leads to socialism.

Karl Marx

Thus, for historical and sociological science, individualism is the teaching that individual people have the greatest influence on global processes. The opposite of this theory are concepts such as holism, historicism, and some others.

Individualism in the economy

This concept exists in economics. Within the framework of this discipline, it is interpreted as follows: individualism is a way of doing business, in which small-scale entrepreneurship and small enterprises dominated by one person.

In the opinion of Karl Marx, by the 19th century such a method of organizing the production and implementation of agriculture began to get rid of itself, although it was relevant to the birth of capitalism.

In the works of this scientist it is said that small collective enterprises should be replaced by large collective forms of organization of the economy.This concept began to adhere to the Bolsheviks in order to bring the country out of the economic crisis that has arisen as a result of the first world and civil wars.

Soviet posters

Such an economic policy in the early years of Soviet power proved to be highly effective. As a result of the creation of large industrial enterprises in large localities and collective farms in villages and villages, thousands of people got a job, and their products were of good quality, thanks to the widespread introduction of innovative technologies.

However, there were subsequently significant blunders in the transition to this method of farming in some Asian republics of the Soviet Union. Thus, collectivization in Kazakhstan had numerous negative consequences, which took many years to overcome. In connection with the creation of collective farms, people who were previously engaged in breeding camels, were tied to a specific territory. This circumstance deprived animals of the opportunity to move to another place when green vegetation was depleted. Thus, one of the original livestock industries in Kazakhstan was almost completelydestroyed.

Individualism as a quality personality

It is in this vein that psychology considers this phenomenon. Therefore, it can be said that individualism is a desire for independence or for the least dependence on society. It, in turn, can be interpreted as the ability to think and act outside existing patterns (traditions, customs, public opinion, and so on). All great scientists, artists and other people with a pronounced creative beginning possessed such a quality. This property can otherwise be called non-conformism.

In the psychology literature, this term is often given another definition, namely: individualism is the concentration of a person solely on the search for personal benefits. Such people are not capable of showing mutual help, compassion and so on. This spiritual quality can be differently denoted by the word "egoism."

caricature of capitalism

Such a personality characteristic most often causes a sharply negative attitude, while free critical thinking, a healthy desire to act not according to a pattern, to find new ways is without a doubt a positive characteristic of a person.

Instilling a growing generation of such qualities is one of the goals of modern school education, spelled out in the new educational standard.


The material of this article can be used as an aid in writing a statement on the text about a society where the idea of ​​individualism is cultivated.

student with a book

Several chapters of this material cover various points of view on this issue. Also various formulations of the concept "individualism" are given. It is much easier to write a statement if you not only read the text offered in the exam, but also study other information on this topic.

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