The Inner Ocean: Individualism and Democratic Culture

The Inner Ocean: Individualism and Democratic Culture

The Inner Ocean: Individualism and Democratic Culture

The Inner Ocean: Individualism and Democratic Culture

Synopsis

"What is the meaning of individualism in a modern democracy? In this rich and penetrating book, George Kateb examines the nature of individualism - the concept of self it implies, the ethic it sustains, the personal connectedness it supports, and the politics it requires. Kateb argues that democracy is founded on respect for the dignity of individuals as individuals, and that this respect transforms all human relations. Democratic individuality, in his view, is a way in which individuals whose rights are protected may dare to live their private lives and to conceive their roles as citizens. The book's ten essays explore democratic individuality in light of such topics as the power of political institutions to accommodate and express different values, the moral distinctiveness of representative democracy, the implications of the liberal social contract, and the possibility of human extinction." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This book deals with individualism sympathetically. Yet I have tried in the Introduction and recurrently in the chapters to look at a few of the criticisms made of individualism, especially of its core, the doctrine of individual rights. I hope to suggest that when the theory of individualism is associated with democracy, individualism does not promote what its critics say it does -- self-seeking and deracination -- but instead furthers an aspiration toward a self and a society that stand for something good and that may even enhance existence.

Related matters are explored in some other work not collected here, especially in On the 'Legitimation Crisis,' Social Research 46 (Winter 1979), 695-727; "Democratic Individuality and the Meaning of Rights," inNancy L. Rosenblum, ed., Liberalism and the Moral Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 183-206; and "Hobbes and the Irrationality of Politics," Political Theory 17 (August 1989), 355-91.

I thank persons for their help in particular chapters, but I have other acknowledgments to make. I owe a special debt to William Connolly for the example of his work, and also for suggesting that these essays be collected and then providing advice on those that are published here for the first time. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are the revised texts of lectures given at the Christian Gauss Seminars in Criticism, Princeton University, under the title Human Extinction and Moral Philosophy, in the spring of 1985. I thank Victor Brombert and the Gauss committee for their invitation, and the members of the seminar for their challenging criticisms. My thanks for their steady responses and questions go to David Bromwich, Thomas Dumm, Jean Elshtain, Amy Gutmann, John Hollander, Leo Marx, Donald Moon, Barry O'Connell, Richard Poirier . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.