In my position as a non-car driver (the reason why I am still alive!) Zoom remains handy despite Covid restrictions being all over.

Last weekend Zoom enabled me to make a virtual attendance at a philosophical society symposium on the topic of individuality. Perhaps we never really sorted out what an individual is, but that's in the nature of philosophical debate.

Yet one of the talks, by a certain Edgar ter Danielyan, made an argument which I definitely agree with, but which still needs to be handled with care. More care, I suggest, than academics or intellectuals accustomed to the notion that 'Western' thinking is regularly individualist (at any rate since the 17th century) are apt to give. Danielyan points out that human individuals or persons are formed from childhood in and through relationships to others, in family, school, work, friends, community, and so on. Quite so, and interestingly, he argued that contemporary quantum physics shows this applies also to 'individual' subatomic particles.

Still a warning is appropriate. First, the history of modern collectivisms such as nationalism, communism, and so forth, makes clear that modern - and even Western - thinking has not always been individualistic in any sense. Second, although Danielyan and others who think like him (Alasdair MacIntyre for instance) have not the slightest intention of treating individuals as expendable fodder for the sake of the group, collectivisms, both ancient (for instance, family honour) and modern (especially nationalism) have been apt to do just that. It is a fact that even a loner like me is dependent on others and on society, but I would never accept that this means I have to tolerate the notion that I, or anyone else, is just a part in a machine to be thrown away if no longer useful.

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