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Which is the stronger driving force in shaping the lives of citizens: The role of the individual OR the role of the collective (society)?
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This is a question on which much has been written and still no one has provided an answer with which everyone seems to be satisfied. The case can be made in either direction. An individual can be seen as having more influence in shaping his or her civic life if one assumes that the individual has free will and, as such, possesses ultimate autonomy on his or her social and individual actions; in addition, it can be argued that, while the individual functions in a society, his/her actions are generally self-interested (that it, seeking advancement for his own interests or those closest to him) and, for this reason, individualism in the most important driving-force for society. On the other hand, certain political philosophers, such as Charles Taylor and (earlier) Edmund Burke, have argued that individual judgments are predicated upon an inherited tradition of knowledge. Based on this premise, they argue that individualism is meaningless without a social context; therefore, the collective is the stronger force for shaping the lives of citizens. It is complex subject. so hopefully the links below will be helpful. Some of the key figures and issues in the debate are Rousseau's concept of General Will, Herder's life and work, John Locke, etc.
It all depends on what you limit your reference to. If you mean by political action, and the masses vote for one party over another, then you live by the policies of the new government.
If you mean personally, one can invent something, win the lottery, gain fortunes from deceased relatives. there are any number of ways an individual can better their life, notwithstanding, work, discipline, and a good education.
Individual is supreme in the sense that it is the individual who feels, who desires, who is satisfied or dissatisfied. Without the individual the society can not exist. Society is a name given to the arrangement for individuals to help each other.
What individuals can and have achieved collectively through is many many time more than what they could have achieved acting independently. To that extent society is very important, but we must at all times remember that society exist for benefits of individuals forming the society. Individuals do not exist to serve the society. If we remember that, perhaps we can avoid committing crimes like the ones committed by society forcing Socrates to drink a cup of poison.
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