Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Arts
The fundamental concepts of any discipline ought to be examined periodically, not only to understand what constitutes those principles or concepts but also to ensure that our basic assumptions are logically and empirically acceptable. This thesis calls for the reexamination of the concept of the “individual” and of its role as the basic or fundamental unit of human society. Two suggestions are made an indications that possible alternative views are logically consistent with the data presently at our disposal. The first suggestion is that the concept of the individual in Western culture was formed largely as a by-product of a theological development of salvation or redemption in the Judeo-Christian ethos. The second suggestion is that the basic or fundamental human unit is not the familiar concept of the “individual” but that of a “biological whole” consisting of the mating pair or the male and the female, and the child. Whereas the “individual” concept is related to the idea of the responsibility to, and the worship of, God by each soul, the “biological whole” concept is based on man’s genetic and social inheritance.
The inheritance of the “biological whole” includes both the purely biological aspects and the psychical aspects. Man as an animal is genetically predisposed toward the maintenance and the transmission of life. Considering the sexual structure of man, any predisposition must include an attraction for “members of the opposite sex”. In other words, in order for life to continue from one generation to another, because the male or female is incomplete without the opposite member, a “whole” must include both. Such an orientation toward a whole in the purely biological aspect of man can be used as the foundation for a psychically organic concept. Carl Jung’s theory of the “collective unconscious” can be readily adapted to describe how such an organic theory would work. The “collective unconscious” is an inherited part of the psyche which permeates the other two layers of the psyche: the personal unconscious, and the conscious. Both layers of the unconscious form the basis for the organic concept of mind and society.
This thesis is more of a plea than an analysis, a measured argument or a diatribe. The plea is to those who use the forms I have mentioned, for much of what people accept as “factual” and use in learned papers and everyday life as a “fact” ought to be re-examined with a critical eye.
Clancy, Frank, "The Appropriateness of the Concept of the Individual" (1980). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1510.