Anti-individualism (also known as content externalism) is an approach to various areas of thought (both analytic and continental) including philosophy,[1] the philosophy of psychology,[2] French historical studies,[3] literature,[4] phenomenology[5] and linguistics.

The proponents arguing for anti-individualism in these areas have in common the view that what seems to be internal to the individual is to some degree dependent on the social environment, thus self-knowledge, intentions, reasoning and moral value may variously be seen as being determined by factors outside the person.[6] The position has been supported by Sanford Goldberg[7] and by other thinkers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge.[5]


Academic discussion negotiating anti-individualism as a reasonable stance started with Tyler Burge's 1988 Individualism and Self-Knowledge[8] being particularly influential. In it, Burge set out to argue for a limited agreement with the Cartesian model of self-cognition as being Authoritative, but also pointed out that knowledge of self-cognition was not always absolute, allowing for the individuation of thought to originate from both the external content of our environment as well as from the internal landscape of our self-knowledge as it is still being discovered: "One can know what one's mental events are and yet not know relevant general facts about the conditions for individuating those events. It is simply not true that the cogito gives us knowledge of the individuation conditions of our thoughts which enables us to "shut off" their individuation conditions from the physical environment".[8]

Michael McKinsey builds on this in 1991 discussing Burge's view in his paper Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access[1] arguing that there is no warrant to an epistemic narrow state of mind (i.e. privileged access) and that there is only a wide state of mind as influenced by the conditions of individuation of thought. Anthony Brueckner then questions McKinsey's take on Burge and McKinsey replies in his Accepting the Consequences of Anti-individualism.[9]

Many of the essays found in Hilary Putnam's The Twin Earth Chronicles are considered early formative works for the anti-individualist model from the analytic perspective.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Mckinsey, Michael (January 1991). "Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access". Analysis. 51 (1): 9–16. doi:10.1093/analys/51.1.9. JSTOR 3328625.
  2. ^ Macdonald, Cynthia; Macdonald, Graham (February 1995). Philosophy of Psychology: Debates on Psychological Explanation (1st ed.). Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631185413. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. ^ Koos, Cheryl A. (1996). "Gender, Anti-Individualism, and Nationalism: The Alliance Nationale and the Pronatalist Backlash against the Femme Moderne, 1933–1940". French Historical Studies. 19 (3): 699–723. doi:10.2307/286641. JSTOR 286641.
  4. ^ Peppis, Paul (17 September 2009). Literature, Politics, and the English Avant-Garde: Nation and Empire, 1901–1918 (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521119849. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b Burge, Tyler (November 2003). "Social Anti-Individualism, Objective Reference". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 67 (3): 682–690. doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2003.tb00316.x.
  6. ^ Brown, Jessica: 2004, Anti-Individualism and Knowledge. MIT Press.
  7. ^ Goldberg, Sanford (2007). Anti-individualism: mind and language, knowledge and justification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ a b Burge, Tyler (November 1988). "Individualism and Self-Knowledge" (PDF). The Journal of Philosophy. 85 (11): 649–663. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  9. ^ McKinsey, Michael (April 1994). "Accepting the Consequences of Anti-individualism". Analysis. 54 (2): 124–128. doi:10.2307/3328832. JSTOR 3328832. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  10. ^ Hilary, Putnam (1 July 1996). The Twin Earth Chronicles: Twenty Years of Reflection on Hilary Putnam's "The Meaning of 'Meaning'". M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-1563248740. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
Albert Libertad

Joseph Albert (known as Albert Libertad or Libertad) (24 November 1875 – 12 November 1908) was an individualist anarchist militant and writer from France who edited the influential anarchist publication L’Anarchie.

Analysis (journal)

Analysis is a peer-reviewed academic journal of philosophy established in 1933 that is published quarterly by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Analysis Trust. Prior to January 2009, the journal was published by Blackwell Publishing. Electronic access to this journal is available via JSTOR (1933–1998), Wiley InterScience (1996–2008), and Oxford Journals (2009–present). The journal publishes short, concise articles in virtually any field of the analytic tradition.

Ayn Rand Institute

The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism, commonly known as the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Objectivism, the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand. Its stated goal is to "spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today's culture". The organization was established in 1985, three years after Rand's death, by Ed Snider and Leonard Peikoff, Rand's legal heir.

ARI has several educational and outreach programs, which include providing intellectuals for public appearances, supporting Objectivist campus clubs, supplying Rand's writings to schools and professors, assisting overseas Objectivist institutions, organizing annual conferences and running the Objectivist Academic Center.

Do it yourself

"Do it yourself" ("DIY") is the method of building, modifying, or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research describes DIY as behaviors where "individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and parts to produce, transform, or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment (e.g., landscaping)". DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations (economic benefits, lack of product availability, lack of product quality, need for customization), and identity enhancement (craftsmanship, empowerment, community seeking, uniqueness).The term "do-it-yourself" has been associated with consumers since at least 1912 primarily in the domain of home improvement and maintenance activities. The phrase "do it yourself" had come into common usage (in standard English) by the 1950s, in reference to the emergence of a trend of people undertaking home improvement and various other small craft and construction projects as both a creative-recreational and cost-saving activity.

Subsequently, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets. DIY is associated with the international alternative rock, punk rock, and indie rock music scenes; indymedia networks, pirate radio stations, and the zine community. In this context, DIY is related to the Arts and Crafts movement, in that it offers an alternative to modern consumer culture's emphasis on relying on others to satisfy needs. It has also become prevalent in the personal finance. When investing in the stock one can utilize a professional advisor or partake in do-it-yourself investing.

Egoist anarchism

Egoist anarchism is a school of anarchist thought that originated in the philosophy of Max Stirner, a 19th-century existentialist philosopher whose "name appears with familiar regularity in historically orientated surveys of anarchist thought as one of the earliest and best known exponents of individualist anarchism".

F. H. Bradley

Francis Herbert Bradley OM (30 January 1846 – 18 September 1924) was a British idealist philosopher. His most important work was Appearance and Reality (1893).

Fluxus 1

Fluxus 1 is an artists' book edited and produced by the Lithuanian-American artist George Maciunas, containing works by a series of artists associated with Fluxus, the international collective of avant-garde artists primarily active in the 1960s and 1970s. Originally published in New York, 1964, the contents vary from edition to edition, but usually contain work by Ay-O, George Brecht, Alison Knowles, György Ligeti, Yoko Ono, Robert Watts and La Monte Young amongst many others.The work has become famous as an early example of conceptual art, and as one of the defining products of the Fluxus collective.

Green Man (comics)

Green Man is the name of two fictional comic book superheroes, both extraterrestrial from the planet Uxor in the Vega star system, one a member of the Omega Men and both members of the Green Lantern Corps. Green Man first appeared in DC Comics' Green Lantern (vol. 2) # 164 (May 1983), and was created by writer Todd Klein and artist Dave Gibbons.

Horst Matthai Quelle

Horst Matthai Quelle (30 January 1912 – 27 December 1999) was a Spanish-speaking German philosopher.


An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Individuality (or selfhood) is the state or quality of being an individual; particularly of being a person separate from other people and possessing their own needs or goals, rights and responsibilities. The exact definition of an individual is important in the fields of biology, law, and philosophy.

From the 15th century and earlier (and also today within the fields of statistics and metaphysics) individual meant "indivisible", typically describing any numerically singular thing, but sometimes meaning "a person". From the 17th century on, individual indicates separateness, as in individualism.Although individuality and individualism are commonly considered to mature with age/time and experience/wealth, a sane adult human being is usually considered by the state as an "individual person" in law, even if the person denies individual culpability ("I followed instructions"). An individual person is accountable for their actions/decisions/instructions, subject to prosecution in both national and international law, from the time that they have reached age of majority, often though not always more or less coinciding with the granting of voting rights, tax and military duties/ individual right to bear arms (protected only under certain constitutions). In line with hierarchy, ultimate individual human reward for success and responsibility for failure is nonetheless found at the top of human society.

Individualist feminism

Individualist feminism, sometimes also grouped with libertarian feminism, is feminist ideas which emphasize individualism.


The principle of individuation, or principium individuationis, describes the manner in which a thing is identified as distinguished from other things.The concept appears in numerous fields and is encountered in works of Carl Gustav Jung, Gilbert Simondon, Alan Watts, Bernard Stiegler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, David Bohm, Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, and Manuel De Landa.

Integral nationalism

Integral nationalism (French: nationalisme intégral) is a type of nationalism originated in 19th-century France and opposed to Risorgimento nationalism.

Whereas risorgimento nationalism applies to a nation seeking to establish a liberal state (for example the Risorgimento in Italy and similar movements in Greece, Germany, Poland, Japan in the 19th century or civic nationalism, e.g., American nationalism), integral nationalism results after a nation has achieved independence and has already established a state. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, according to Alter and Brown, were examples of integral nationalism. Some of the qualities that characterise integral nationalism are anti-individualism, statism, radical extremism, and aggressive expansionist militarism. Integral states are totalitarian and the government or state dominates all aspects of society.

Integral nationalism generally tends to arise in states (such as colonies or countries that do not have sovereignty) in which a strong military ethos has become entrenched by a struggle for independence, resulting in the belief that a strong military is required to ensure the security and viability of the new state once the state attains independence. Also, the success of such a liberation struggle results in feelings of national superiority that may lead to extreme nationalism.

James L. Walker

James L. Walker (June 1845 – April 2, 1904), sometimes known by the pen name Tak Kak, was an American individualist anarchist of the Egoist school, born in Manchester.Walker was one of the main contributors to Benjamin Tucker's Liberty. He worked out Egoism on his own some years before encountering the Egoist writings of Max Stirner, and was surprised with the similarities. He published the first twelve chapters of Philosophy of Egoism in the May 1890 to September 1891 issues of Egoism.


A libertine is one devoid of most moral principles, a sense of responsibility, or sexual restraints, which are seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behaviour sanctified by the larger society. Libertinism is described as an extreme form of hedonism. Libertines put value on physical pleasures, meaning those experienced through the senses. As a philosophy, libertinism gained new-found adherents in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, particularly in France and Great Britain. Notable among these were John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and the Marquis de Sade.

Negative liberty

Negative liberty is freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty is primarily concerned with freedom from external restraint and contrasts with positive liberty (the possession of the power and resources to fulfil one's own potential). The distinction was introduced by Isaiah Berlin in his 1958 lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty".

Rational egoism

Rational egoism (also called rational selfishness) is the principle that an action is rational if and only if it maximizes one's self-interest. The view is a normative form of egoism. It is distinct from psychological egoism (according to which people are motivated only to act in their own self-interest) and ethical egoism (that moral agents ought only to do what is in their own self-interest).

Susan Brison

Susan Brison is Professor of Philosophy and Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values at Dartmouth College, where she also teaches in the Program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. For the 2016-17 academic year, she was the Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University. She has also held visiting appointments at New York University, Tufts University, and Princeton University. Brison's work has succeeded in increasing the amount of attention that philosophy, as a field, pays to issues of rape and domestic violence.

Tyler Burge

Tyler Burge (; born 1946) is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. Burge has made contributions to many areas of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind, philosophy of logic, epistemology, philosophy of language, and the history of philosophy.

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