This question is assuming that such a thing as 'progress' exists, but let's assume for this instance that it does.

It is encouraged in our society to embrace and adapt to individualism because doing this basically sets the stage for evolution (and obviously evolving is a priority, right!?), yet when we talk about progress in societies, it is discovered that (and many famous anthropologists, historians, economists and philosophers have admitted this), it is often the diversity, when everyone start to look in different directions, everyone ultimately goes in different directions, that is to blame for virtually every stall to progress/evolution.

See the contradiction?

My question is simple: Is individuality a bigger contributor to devaluation or is diversity or what?

I am interested in your personal opinion.



4 Answers 4


What you want to look at is the social psychology of group decision making. The pioneer in the field is Irving Janis, a psychologist at yale. Groupthink is poor decision making that results from individuals self-censoring because of social pressures because of high cohesion among the group. Everybody thinks the same, i'll be branded as an outsider if I voice my opinion that this decision is really bad, so I don't speak up and we make a bad decision.

Interestingly, too low a degree of cohesion among the individuals also leads to very similar effects. People who are all different just don't trust each other and so they self-censor for fear of starting huge, unproductive arguments about points of fundamental disagreement.

Look at the wikipedia page on groupthink for more info.


Evolution is a fact, not a value. If you value something and you get to fulfil it than in a sense progress has happened. Evolution doesn't value things it's a blind process of replication, it's not something that cares. Try to get away from thinking it does. Do not conflate progress with evolution See the is-ought problem by Hume. Also see here

All value is subjective and while there may be overlaps in values there is no a priori reason to hold a value. If you value a stable society but also your personal well being well then find the best way to maximise both.


The word "individualism" is often used to refer to different ideas. For example, some libertarians use the term individualism only for the idea that the government should respect some set of individual rights: http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/the-calling-are-libertarians-individualists/

By contrast, Ayn Rand used the term individualism for the idea that an individual should not sacrifice his rational self interest for the sake of others: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/individualism.html

It is difficult to answer your question when you haven't explained what idea you are labelling with the word "individualism". On some readings your claim that individualism is encouraged is false. For example, the idea that a person should not sacrifice his rational self interest for the sake of others is discouraged in many contexts.


The lack of any real progress and the reasons for that are best expressed by University of Texas at Austin philosophy professor Louis Mackey in the following quote:

There are two kinds of sufferers in this world: those who suffer from a lack of life and those who suffer from an overabundance of life. I've always found myself in the second category. When you come to think of it, almost all human behavior and activity is not essentially any different from animal behavior. The most advanced technologies and craftsmanship bring us, at best, up to the super-chimpanzee level. Actually, the gap between, say, Plato or Nietzsche and the average human is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human. The realm of the real spirit, the true artist, the saint, the philosopher, is rarely achieved.

Why so few? Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress but rather this endless and futile addition of zeroes. No greater values have developed. Hell, the Greeks 3,000 years ago were just as advanced as we are. So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be found in another question, and that's this: Which is the most universal human characteristic - fear or laziness?

-- Louis Mackey

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