Is there a dichotomy between individuality and "humans are social animals"?

What kind of theory is there available about this topic?

By dichotomy I mean "opposition". I.e. are there contradictions between the two things (individuality and social animal).

  • @virmaior What do you mean by "non-identical" and how is it related to dichotomy?
    – mavavilj
    Aug 1, 2016 at 7:37
  • if your question is "is there a part of philosophy dealing with humans in society?" , then the answer is "yes, political philosophy." Other than that, I don't think we can answer "is there a contradiction?" without making this purely opinion-based.
    – virmaior
    Aug 1, 2016 at 8:05
  • @virmaior Well political philosophy is sort of about balancing individuals and "sociality". But I think I'm asking more about whether there can be contradictions in being an individual and being coerced into social norms etc. "social" aspects of being a human?
    – mavavilj
    Aug 1, 2016 at 8:24
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    @mavavilj Can there be? Sure, but they are not diametrically opposed which is what you make it sound like. I would argue you cannot have a principle of individuality without first having a notion of a group identity. Individuality is about making oneself distinct from one's group. Aug 1, 2016 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


yes there is a dichotomy. But a dichotomy is not a contradiction. My cat is a unique individual; she is also a member of a species. Being a member of that species is precisely what makes her a cat. But she remains a unique individual. Similarly if prosociality is what makes us human, that does not mean we are not unique individuals.


No, there is not a dichotomy between the two.

While there may be portions of each attribute which are at odds, the general notion of 'individuality' may (and does) co-exist with the need for social interaction.

To abuse a metaphor, let us pretend pursing activities which promote individualism is 'chocolate', and pursuing social activities is 'pizza'.

While some people greatly prefer one or the other, generally people like both to some degree. Does desiring pizza preclude a person from also enjoying chocolate as well? Do people sometimes 'overindulge' on chocolate, and so want something more substantial for their next meal?

Does enjoying late night clubbing with friends preclude a person from desiring some solo meditation the next morning? Does spending two years in voluntary isolation mean that one doesn't wish to engage in social activities?

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    I think a better analogy is that sociality is like pizza, and individuality is like pizza sauce. You can have a pizza without sauce, but you can't have pizza sauce without a pizza. Aug 2, 2016 at 13:16

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