How has hyper-individualism shaped the way society views morality?

What is individualism? What is hyper-individualism?

Within the current culture, there are many ways in which people are encouraged to be different from anyone else. Like Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez point out in “Creating the Good Society”, individualism is the belief that the best society is one in which individuals are left free to pursue their private satisfactions independently of others, a pattern of thinking that emphasizes individual achievement and self-fulfillment. This is beneficial in many ways; such as how people develop their taste in music, the ways people express themselves through style, the development of new ways of thinking, and the specialization of jobs in each field. Our culture capitalizes the importance of choice and works to create as many choices as possible so that each individual person can find their own place. When taken too far, individualism evolves into hyper-individualism. As defined by Jim Eckman, hyper-individualism is when “the self defines and creates its own reality.  There are virtually no boundaries for behavior and there are few authority figures that matter”. By emphasizing individual freedom too much, we ignore the common good of the community around us. This can have a drastic effect on what is known as morality today. 

How does this relate to the morals of our post-modern world?

Because the ideals of individualism are so ingrained in our upbringing, we begin to believe that what is ethical depends on each person and what they decide to believe. When individualism is pushed too far, we begin to view morality as relative, saying “what is true for you is not necessarily true for me.” This is called ethical relativism. It is the belief that there is no authority beyond what we believe as an individual. While this view tries to express respect for other people’s values, it never really discerns between right and wrong. We begin to act in ways that benefit ourselves without taking into account how it may affect others. This causes a lot of confusion for people growing up in this society because they have no way of learning what they should and should not do. It also creates many problems that can be expressed in social issues such as abortion, gay rights, and racism. Because of this lack of moral foundations, there is no clear way to know what is morally correct regarding these issues. Also, as we become more individualistic in our ways of thinking, we begin to lose the empathy we have towards other people. We begin to believe that we are somehow better than them because we have separated ourselves from society. Lack of empathy can lead to many horrible ramifications such as mass shootings, not caring about people in need, and completely disconnecting ourselves from any community.

3 Comments

  1. Profile photo of E Napier

    E Napier - September 14, 2015, 9:48 pm

    I really belive we have lost sight of what it important… Treat people the way you want to b treated..do not judge others because you have no idea what has gone on or what has happened in their lives to shape them into the person they ate today….clean out your own closet before your try to clean anyone elses.

  2. Profile photo of Janet Nusz

    Janet Nusz - September 14, 2015, 10:34 pm

    Learning what defines us and shapes our morality as well as the effects we have on others and society can bring so much benefit into this world. would it not do us all well to think and ponder on these things?

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