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Individualism vs Collectivism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/28/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 802 times Debate No: 118748
Debate Rounds (3)
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Here we are again to talk about the flaws in humanity and the strengths people should bare. However, As usual, I make my following point in the hope that this will aid people. So then, Here is my thesis: Individualism should be preferred to collectivism because it allows the person to build themselves up and understand their strengths and weaknesses without relying on the flaws of other people, Other people who will never understand you as much of yourself.

I am an introvert and come from a background where I had to grow up on my own, But I have not avoided groups for the entirety of my life. It was through trying to fit in with others that I saw the flaws in having groups. You see, No other human will ever care about you as much as you care about yourself. Your family, Though genetically related, Won"t understand every aspect of yourself, Even if you try to explain it to them. Your friends will understand enough of you to make it possible for you and them to converse, But they will always fail to take your place entirely. People simply can not understand every aspect of the person"I say this generally but there are some people who can interpret people quite deeply.

With the faults in having a group, You get a chance to see how important it is to build yourself up. While a group can protect you physically, They can"t mentally. In fact, They may do great harm to your mind. The group looks out for itself, Not the members. A nation works to fix its problems not its people"s problems. Who then will help you if the group won"t? You have to fend for yourself. For every friend you gain, You must reevaluate your position in the world and check your beliefs so they are not crushed.

As negative as this sounds, It"s a positive thing. People step on each other all the time. You know the group can"t protect you fully so you build up your own defenses to defend yourself. Now that you are safe because of yourself, You have a chance to explore what else about yourself has been hidden in the world behind others. Being independent allows you to open up, Even if it is to yourself.

Of course, Too much individualism is a problem just as much as too much collectivism. Being distant from others allows depressions and loneliness to set in and prevents you from learning about the world around you. This is a dangerous occurrence that can rock the strongest of wills. However, When used in moderation, Individualism can bring more benefits than collectivism. Sure the group may exist because of superiority in numbers, By if you yourself are not strong, You never will be.


Happy to think with you today.

We can both agree that the proper answer is not 100% in either direction here. That being said, Let's bring some order to our thoughts. I'll address your specific ideas here, As best I can put Order to them.

1. "Individualism should be preferred to collectivism because it allows the person to build themselves up and understand their strengths and weaknesses without relying on the flaws of other people. "

1a. "building themselves up"

When people are seeking to improve themselves, It is rare that they achieve this without a group. When people are trying to lose weight, For example, It is rare for them to do so without a support structure. The person in question would ideally speak to a doctor for physical recommendations and to set a goal. They would visit a nutritionist, Fitness instructor, Et cetera to help them do this. To think that the individual could achieve this without this support structure, Even without including other groups such as family, Or support groups, Is fair, But to say that they would be better off as an individual is not. Physically, Mentally, And Emotionally they are better off with these support structures. Intellectually, No one improves themselves far without the work of a collective. Is it fair to say it is an individualistic matter to study on one's own the books of people who came long before you while eating food harvested by farmers, Sitting in libraries funded by one's community, Being raised by one's parents? The majority of your intellectual progress and predispositions are given to us by our society. It takes a village to raise a child.

1b. "Understanding their strengths and weaknesses"

In the above example doctors, Nutritionists, And fitness instructors helped our individual progress faster by giving them their experience and knowledge on their fields. How can one evaluate one's own strengths and weaknesses without bias without these things? I am a cellist. Students who try to learn to play on their own rarely understand how out of tune they are and how inaccurate their rhythm is without help. They could come to these understandings over time with critical evaluation. Few can achieve this, Which is why teachers are so important.

1c. "Without relying on the flaws of other people"

It is important to find the right people whose advice to listen to. You can be misled. People can be flawed. By being a member of a collective, You can benefit from their experience and help them with their flaws. Some people do not want help with their flaws, Or do not see parts of themselves as flawed. That does not mean you are always better off as an individual.

2. "Other people will never understand you as much as you understand yourself. "

Do you believe that you are so complicated that no one could possibly understand you? In general, Most humans are simple. If they do not understand you chances are that is because you fail to be open with them as much as you could be. Possibly, You cannot be as open with them as you wish to be for fear of reprisal. It could be you simply haven't found the right groups yet. If you search for groups, You'll probably find one that is a fit. If you fear reprisals, Search for the groups on the internet. Browse in incognito mode, Learn to hide your tracks. I lived in a family and had thoughts I could not express for this fear. For the knowledge that my family and friend had flaws. They would not try to understand my position. The internet freed me. I found my groups, Flawed as they were.

3. "No other human will ever care about you as much as you care about yourself. "

Not true. Many parents will sacrifice themselves for their children. This is a timeless truth. I care more for my wife than myself. I give her the best food, Work hard to buy her what she needs. All of her things are more expensive than mine. I work for my daughter and get her what she needs. Men have died falling on grenades for their comrades. [1] This is not a rare event. Some people find purpose protecting the collective and have sacrificed an untold amount of times, Their stories never to reach our ears, To protect us. Caring for someone does not require a full understanding of someone.

4. "People simply can not understand every aspect of someone else"

Why is this so important to you? If I have a discussion with my mother, Why does she need to know my innermost thoughts, Desires, And feelings, To care for me? Many mothers are simple. They live vicariously through their children. My own was like this. Her self confidence was destroyed by an abusive father early on and her whole life was lived to get away from him and make sure her children never had to deal with that. We were her pride and joy. It may sound narcissistic, But I am far more complex and intelligent than my mother. She could perhaps be what I was without her father's interference, But since she kept me safe from that and allowed me the freedoms I needed to find groups and to find my purpose, I advanced to care for ideas she will probably never care to think about. Understanding my concerns for AI, For existential risks our society faces, For the future of humanity, And for the denigration of intellectual discourse in this world (although some sources are more optimistic about this) is not a prerequisite to love and care for me.

5. "A group can't care for you mentally"

You look solely at the negatives and few positives. Psychologists are in the practice of helping people who are critically disturbed. Many of these people develop insecurities and instabilities brought on them from themselves, Although it can be argued many come from society's views, The individual's mental and emotional strength can be improved by speaking to their groups. Friends, Family, Psychologists. These people have helped many, Including myself, Through rough times. Clinical Psychology as a field is more or less centered around an attempt to improve well-being for these people.

6. "A nation works to fix its problems not its people's problems. "

That is false for every nation. It is only true in extreme circumstances where the few may be sacrificed to save the many. A nation's role is to provide stability and enact policies that best support society as a whole. You can evaluate nations many different ways. Let's cite a few.

a. You can look at the weakest, Worst off individual in a society and judge the society by that. Perhaps best would be to analyze the life of the bottom 10%. The US would fail this test horribly, Yet some other countries pass it quite well.

For myself, The measure of a society is in the wellness of its overall citizens. How many die of hunger? How many die from lack of access to doctors? How is access to education? Literacy rates? Infant death rates? Pregnancy deaths? There are many measures of a society. If your nation is not focusing on these, You are a member of a more 'individualistic' nation. You should recognize that these are "worse" nations, And that many people would be better off with more policies that focus on the collective.

Capitalism in and of itself is a method nations use to improve the lives of their citizens when resources are scarce. While giving individuals the power to succeed, It also gives people the power to fail and can lead to violence. Socialism is the same. The correct way is a blend that gives everyone the best chance to succeed, And lets no one fail. Capitalists themselves cite that capitalism is better not because they themselves benefit the most from it, But that it works for all of society better.

If your politicians don't prioritize all of the individuals of the nation, You might want to vote for different politicians, Or find a new collective.

I'll end by saying that Collectivism has given us the internet, Has led to the downfall of superstition, To scientific progress, To medical progress. Individuals find more purpose inside the group.

1. Https://en. Wikipedia. Org/wiki/Falling_on_a_grenad
Debate Round No. 1


A worthy opponent, I see. Well I am glad you have brought such a reputable argument with many points I agree with. However, I still have some things I will comment on.

It is true that a collective is needed so you can compare your skills and ideas. In fact, I would say that it is essential for people to communicate with one another to share ideas and grow as people. But, Who"s job is it to learn from the shared information?

As much as we learn and have access to knowledge, It is a common fact that people do not apply themselves to make the most of the knowledge given to them. You should know this; you said you play the cello and have taught others how to play. No matter how much information, Tips, And techniques you personally taught your students, You knew that it was up to them to do it.

That"s why I truly value individualism. No matter what knowledge you have and how much support you get from others, It"s still your choice to take advantage of that. If you take advantage of the world around you then you are a successful individual inside of a group. However, An individual with no group is weak, And a simple person that is a function of the group is still weak. I argue this point not because one is better than the other but that you must be an individual that thrives in the group. Simply having the group alone does nothing to benefit a person.

But let"s say we have a successful group, A family for example. You mentioned that a group doesn"t need to know every aspect of its members which I will agree with after some personal discussion. Instead, It can be assumed from your words that it is through selflessness that a group works and benefits each other. To that I say, "Of course, But who is selfless? "

You are selfless to your wife because you two connect and have overcome struggles to remain together. The example of a soldier sacrificing themself to save the lives of the rest of the troop is only true because they struggled together and have grown closer over time. But, What reason do I or any random person have to be selfless to the man in the distance? He stands and labors with a pickaxe in his hands and sweat pouring down his sides. I have no reason to help him. What reason would others come to help him?

Of course, I would personally say that selflessness founded upon religion and God would make you want to help anyone in need thus making the group functional, But let"s stick to the example. Why should anyone help the unknown? It is through others stimuli that we decide to help others. It was because of the struggles we as people face that groups form. If you didn"t fight that struggle you don"t necessarily care about it. You most certainly won"t have the same determination and heart as the original people who fought and formed the group you are in. There needs to be a reason for people to care for others in the group. This won"t happen naturally without stimulus.

So, I"m summary, The group is needed, But it takes an individual with a reason to care for the group to make the group functional. There are many reasons in the world for someone to care about a group, But a random person has no attraction to another random person. They could help if they were selfless, But we all know we are not perfect people. Protect yourself first and grow, And then you can worry about the man who labors in the distance.


Thanks. I enjoy discussions with anyone willing to accept they still have things to learn. As a teacher I often learn as much from teaching as my students do.

Speaking of teaching, You have the wrong idea about teaching, From my point of view.

1. "No matter how much information, Tips, And techniques you teach your students, It is up to them to do it. "

You have a point here. There always is effort required, But the job of a teacher is to break down complex topics into bits that are easily processed. If you understand your subject well enough to teach it, You must be able to explain things in the simplest terms. The easiest way to tell if someone has no idea what they're talking about is if they cannot explain it to you simply. Nothing is all that complicated in the end. Paving the road to the initial knowledge is hard, But the knowledge itself is easy. If it is not, We don't have a full understanding of the subject. A bare minimum effort is required, And in fact it can be fairly effortless if I have done my job well enough. I have 3 year olds with difficulty concentrating. They can still learn. This is what every human in a collective has access to, Or will, As time progresses, If we aren't swayed to selfish individualism.

2. "A simple person that is a function of the group is still weak. "

As intelligent individuals, We must accept that there are some people out there who are not capable of grand feats. There are people who don't define their lives on their individuality, But who they are in a group. There are, In general, More Indians than Chiefs. It takes a strong individual to surround himself with the right people to establish a strong collective, But the collective should take care of all of its members. One that does not is not a true collective.

3. "Of course, But who is selfless? "

With a well-thought moral system, One does not require God to be selfless. In fact, The most selfish individuals of our society, Or even psychopaths can be swayed with some discussion to accepting this, If they are able to follow logic and accept it. This could be fully fleshed out in another debate, But I'll be succinct. If you are an individual who stumbles across a man in need of help and you give him that help you have now potentially formed a group of two people. With two people, Basic economics begins to work. Comparative advantage comes into play. You can accomplish much more than 2x your own work with two people once you understand who is good at what. In more populated groups, This becomes a much more difficult task, Hence the current state of our world.

Going deeper. It is only when the basic needs of the people are met that they can be selfless. How can a hungry man offer food to those they do not know? It happens, Believe it or not, But this is a damaging level of selflessness. However, What harm is it to a person who has no worries about where their next meal will come from to feed another? In markets where scarcity has been eliminated, To not do so is to actively harm your own potential. In the US, Millions of people are food insecure. [1] In these circumstances, Violence will occur. Who would not steal in order to live? True saints. Who would not steal to feed their children? The world currently produces more food than it needs to feed everyone on Earth. [2] Violence that is committed for these reasons is entirely avoidable. When we allow humans to die from hunger, We are stopping them from potentially creating inventions that the rest of the world would benefit from. And we throw away food and lock people out of dumpsters where we throw away good food because we're worried about being sued. We allow fruit to perish in fields because it is "ugly" to American consumers. It takes thought, But it is not hard to see how being "selfless" in these scenarios would improve our own lives. Millions have to focus on their next meal rather than inventing solutions and being members of our collective.

The US has no excuse. A main limiting factor for us is politicians who limit and take away food stamps from people. Or stomp other solutions before they can be implemented, Or even suggested. Take a good look at an example from India. [3]

The worst part? This is only one issue among many where humans are forced to focus on basic needs rather than being able to use their energies to invent. Would Gates and Jobs have got anywhere if they were focused on where their next drink of water or bit of food would come from? Would Newton?

Selfishness is a strange concept, Because it is best served when you help other people up.

4. You yourself perhaps are not as "individualistic" or "selfish" as you may think.

If you had a scenario where you could choose, What would you pick?

Your death, Or the death of another human? Easy. In my case probably me. What about two humans? Three? What is the number where you would lay down your life? Would you never do so? Perhaps the answer will shed some light on how selfish you actually are.

I have to throw your scenario back at you. I would help a random man who needed it who I have no connections to because I know that he will be grateful and help me in return. You say that you would not. That you would protect yourself first and grow, And then you can worry about the man who labors in the distance.

But when, Might I ask, Is the point you have determined that you have grown enough and are protected enough to help that stranger?

There are billionaires in our society who pay millions to avoid paying millions more in taxes. They pay to have their company's taxes reduced, To dump toxic material into rivers to save themselves money disposing of it, Actively harming society at large, Causing cancer in many. [4] Have these people grown enough? Are they protected enough? They consider themselves individuals, That all of the humans they destroy are beneath them. Companies factor lawsuits and human damage into their bottom line. [5]

Humanity is lost by focusing so much on trying to find ourselves that we lose sight of others in the process. As my above argument, When you focus on yourself above all others, You are actively working against themselves. Did those companies factor in that their reputations would be destroyed if it was known they poisoned everyone? Probably. It is among the evils of capitalism and individualism that people will kill others for their own profit, To the possible detriment of themselves.

Alternatively, Would you prefer to be middle class in the US or the top 1% in Syria, Or an African country? The answer is probably middle class in the US. What good is being in the top 1% of a country when its citizens can't pay for your products? When your life may be threatened with violence by those whom you have ignored on your quest to achieve that status?

If all the basic needs of humanity are met, What violence is left but real petty crimes?

What does acting as an individual get you? You will be able to feed yourself. Perhaps clothe yourself. Drink water. Maybe survive sickness on your own. Maybe stay warm. Your energies will be focused on these things.

What does acting as a member of a collective get you? Benefit the collective by specializing in whatever you'd like. As long as you can get paid and live off of it.

What benefit would members of a collective have were they selfishly selfless? The basic needs of all would be met, And the entire might of the human race would be harnessed in inventing and discovering our reality.

I am a member, First and foremost, Of the Human Collective. I have determined that my well-being is raised if the well-being of my peers are. Individualism cannot sprout until freed of basic needs. Basic needs cannot be solved without the collective.

-Sources in Comments.
Debate Round No. 2


It has been great to talk to another person who can hold their own in a debate. I have no more points to push as I think we"ve come upon an agreement. A balance between collectivism and individualism is needed. I still think the individual comes before the collective, But there is not enough rounds in this debate to change your mind fully. Maybe we will chat again.


I see.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants. I believe you give collectivism less credit than it deserves. The purposes many people find in life would not exist without it.

Not sure why urls have been disabled in debate. Org, But here are sources for R2.

1. Https:// en. Wikipedia. Org/ wiki/ Hunger_in_the_United_States
2. Https:// www. Nature. Com/ articles/ nature11069
3. Https:// www. Youtube. Com/ watch? V=qdoJroKUwu0
4. Https:// en. Wikipedia. Org/ wiki/ Erin_Brockovich
5. Https:// highline. Huffingtonpost. Com/ miracleindustry/ americas-most-admired-lawbreaker/
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by billsands 3 years ago
There must be a balance between the rights of the individual and the welfare of the community.
Posted by Medievalwarfare 3 years ago
I must ask, How do you always know when I upload a debate? Also, It is interesting to see that we agree.
Posted by canis 3 years ago
You are an idividual. . And there is no escape. . You could be born into collectivism. . There is an escape into individualoism. . That is the history of collectivism.
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