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The Individualist Ethic
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THE INDIVIDUALIST ETHIC

 
 
 

~1. Introduction:

One would undoubtedly strive to spend one's time and thought in addressing the truly relevant issues of life; is this not so? One could perhaps initiate this effort by looking closely and deeply at one's own experience as a whole. With ample and determined reflection, the basic issues that constitute one's existence could possibly be lured to the surface.

A collection of topics arises from this type of thinking. How will one come to terms with them? Where do they direct one? Hopefully, toward the ground of one's own living experience, if these intentions are to succeed. Even more, perhaps they will lead one to a sense of priority regarding this personal experience; a priority to accomplish the goals that develop from a deep self insight and a resolute commitment to being who one is.

Individuality is the subject of this volume. A search is to be conducted, in the course of this study; the intention being to define individuality mode of life. What will be illustrated along the way is the type of character that reflects this quality.

Individuality is a particular way of being- as oneself. In the course of this process, two fundamental issues present themselves. These issues are two of the core elements of the living being: identity and value.

Personal identity is a deep and dramatic issue. Much of what one's life experience will amount to begins with how one answers the fundamental question: "Who am I?"

Individuality is a choice that one might make in answering this question. It constitutes a variation on personal identity, one that originates from an attitude of resolute self determination. With it, one resolves to be who one freely chooses, on a basis of an owned sense of personal meaning. Such a regard towards oneself implies a sense of value at work. One's own existence is the item of value that is at stake. The questions that evolve from this event: what type of value is this? What are the particular traits of a standard of self worth in this open context of identity? On what basis does this concept of merit exist? What does it mean to value one's own life in this way?

As such, individuality becomes a question of ethics, as well as a question of identity. In the course of this investigation, identity and value are each to be defined as primary elements of life. Further, individuality will be shown to involve a greater development of these issues, where identity and value assume a more evolved expression.

1.2 How does a topic such as individuality come about in the course of being alive? What factors of living existence make it an issue to begin with?

Being alive and self aware is an experience, not just an occurrence. This experience rests on a set of terms; conditions which make this experience possible to begin with. For one who reflects on one's existence, these terms become issues.

One of these issues is selfhood. Self awareness presents one with a primary subject for speculation: oneself. What one will see here will amount to no simple observation, but will be an issue to be faced and answered.

In coming to terms with the issue of oneself and who one will be, one has the option of making the experience a meaningful one, or not. In dealing with the matter of self, one may aspire towards a developed sense of meaning in playing the role that one elects to fulfill. Conversely, one may forego such an effort and follow a less demanding path of personal direction, abandoning the depth of meaningful potential that life offers.

This text is clearly targeted at one who selects the former course of life; one who holds a meaningful experience as the precondition of a worthwhile one. The issues to be faced here are unavoidable; the alternatives are to face them with meaningful resolve or with resignation. Individuality is offered as a set of principles geared towards understanding the terms of a meaningful living experience. Within this text and its line of thinking, a single strategy will be taken to accomplish this. A sense of independence will be instilled in one who seeks to answer these questions of self. Rather than provide the answers to them, the intention here is to illuminate the meaning of answering them for oneself.

1.3 Thus is this brand of thinking characterized. To accomplish the goal set, several points are to be addressed. Individuality must be defined as a mode of living existence; as a way in which one is and a level of living self expression. Further, the terms on which such a level of life is possible must be laid out. What conditions must be met to make this a reality? As well, the sense of meaning that drives such an effort must be uncovered. What does it mean to hold one's own existence in such a standard? What context of meaning lies within, to propel one to play such a role?

1.4 An intention has been stated, and a set of tactics has been selected to accomplish it. Before delving into the issues themselves, some specifications are in order.

This collection of thoughts may be considered as a study in ethics. Value is a core topic in the reflections that follow, and a definite position is to be taken regarding value choices. Yet in this case, an alternative approach will be taken to deal with the issues of value that life presents. This ethical philosophy will amount to a projection of possibilities, rather than seeking to define a set of absolute moral demands. A more open sense of value is at work here, one that strives to illustrate a range of potential meaning that individual existence may hold, and that one may aspire towards in discovering one's individuality. The point of this being, that one may also not aspire towards it. To work towards 'proving' individuality would be a loss for both author and reader.

Regardless, this quality of living existence remains as a personal option that one may elect to devote oneself to. Defining it as valuable and worthwhile is a matter of one's own judgment; one either appraises the role of individuality as having merit, or one does not. If one will answer positively, a core of value will underlie this decision. As such, it is with this topic, the issue of value, that the investigation will depart.

~2. Value and the Individual

1. Value is a primary element of living existence. As considered here, value, as a term, refers to the complete range of concerned interest. This designates not only evaluations of worth, but also motives of goal directed action.

Starting from this point, the present goal is to clearly describe what value is. From this base of understanding, the role of attitude within value expression will be explored. To be developed from this picture is a conception of valid individualist value, and the terms that support it.

So what does it mean to value as an individual? Answering this will require the deepest level of inquiry. A particular motive is the driving force behind this attempt at definition; one that seeks to make value personal, a matter of free and open interpretation by one who acts.

This subject, the actor who commits goal directed acts of value, will remain the centerpoint of this whole range of considerations. This agent of value is the individual, the source of value as a topic, and the ground of any legitimate reflection on value. With this in mind, the proper first task is to uncover value as a structure. Opposed to solely debating various ethical systems, or seeking to establish one value priority over another, the goal here is to illustrate value as an act committed by the individual personally. Looking towards the act of valuation itself, towards the elements it relates to, searches out the root of value as a feature of living being. Thus, the focus shifts from ethical definition to the one who applies them; the individual. Why does one commit goal-directed acts of value? How does this process occur? What function does it serve within the greater scheme of the individual's living existence? How does one define the meaning of these acts of commitment, and how open is one to alternative interpretations? Above all, will one strive to define this sense of meaning originally, or will one default to second hand definitions?

2. Attitude and Ground: Open Value Concepts

Investigation into value falls back upon a basic element: attitude. Attitude is a state of being: a quality of one's existence. Experiencing and manifesting attitude is intrinsic to living existence. The questions this delivers: what is the meaning of this attitude, and what will one do about it? A process is to be described here. Value concepts evolve from attitudes, as one seeks to comprehend them. The sense of value one derives acts to align ones attitudes meaningfully towards one's world. Understanding these dynamics will clearly indicate the potential for value autonomy.

Value definitions act to convey a picture of the world, categorizing its elements according to their merit. When a value judgment is applied, a set of conditions of validity are established, and the ethical merit of the object or situation appraised is thus determined.

So if one holds honesty as a value priority, and one witnesses a scenario of theft, one thereby qualifies the situation as one of negative value. Likewise, should one deem craftsmanship to be a point of merit, and observe an effectively designed tool, this item is defined as valuable. Shown by these examples, both objects and situations are comprehended by means of value concepts.

One typically follows up this pronouncement of value by responding with an appropriate attitude. Defining the positive ethical merit of a situation one judges as valid, one relates to it with an attitude of approval. This assumed cause / effect connection between value description and attitude can be seen at work, even if it remains unacknowledged by the evaluator. Value description is treated as a cause, and one's own attitude is treated as an effect, even when these elements are not labeled as such. The claim to be forwarded here is that this is a miscomprehension of value, and its dynamics. Further, that this error of description conveys a limited understanding of the open potential of value. A new schematic is offered, one that begins by reversing the common relation between these elements. So this description will begin with attitude, holding this as the grounding element.

One expresses attitudes towards the events one encounters, and one defines these expressions meaningfully through value concepts. The primary element here is the attitude one relates by, be it acceptance, rejection, gratitude, ambivalence, fear, etc. These states of being, known as attitudes, are a basic relation to things encountered.

Yet this relation stands in need of comprehension. One must not merely hold a specific sentiment towards something; one must direct it and understand it in intelligible terms. This demands meaningful description, explanation of attitude in a clear context.

This description has a basic format, and this format is value. Value concepts relate one's attitude towards the world and towards oneself. Ethical principles confer a context of definition on to this process of attitude expression; defined by them is why one regards something with the attitude one holds. So if one expresses anger towards a perceived violation of oneself, a value concept such as 'personal rights' orients one's attitude of aggression coherently into the situation. The meaning of the events, and the meaning of one's expressed sentiment towards them, are established.

So the process illustrated is a basic one; an individual participating in events, expressing attitudes towards these events as encountered, and defining these expressions through value concepts.

This picture reveals the open range possible to value expression the range and development of attitudes one may manifest are limited only by one's personal development as a character; by one's capacity for expression and interpretation. Even so, a qualifying standard is required. How might one expression be distinguished from another, and what sense of meaning would underlie this discrimination?

One may select a certain set of approved attitudes, adopt a fixed set of definitions of meaning to explain them, and select value options on this basis. This amounts to value dogmatism, a regard towards value that that permits only a limited range of potential. Only a restricted set of attitudes may reach realization; the reason being that only a limited set of meaningful definitions are applied. Dogmatism sees this set of descriptions; values, as absolute, beyond personal reconsideration or reinterpretation. Dogmatism is capable of bringing only its approved attitudes to life, as these are all it understands.

Alternatively, another qualification may be applied to distinguish among value concepts. Recognizing the potential merit of any attitude expressed with character, one may judge the merit of a value concept by its effectiveness at defining attitudes meaningfully and intelligibly. Here, comprehension is the standard of merit, the goal being the meaningful expression of attitudes of one's own.

This standard looks to the heart of value as an aspect of living being, and accesses the full range of potential open to creative individual expression. Naturally derived attitudes; free and voluntary self expressions, are acknowledged for their possible merit. The sole demand placed upon them: meaningful definition.

Through this sense of merit, what becomes possible is simply the effective expression of attitudes of one's own. Such self expression is individuality, being the actualization of owned attitudes. Proceeding to independently define the meaning of one's attitudes in terms of oneself, owned value becomes an accomplished reality. One turns away from restricted contexts of self actualization and towards the opportunity for creative self manifestation, bringing one's legitimate sentiments to realization in terms of one's own. Self determined attitude expression is a primary term of individuality. What it yields is simply acts of will, committed as oneself. The pivotal role played by value definitions is now apparent. These definitions facilitated self determination at the core of what self is; expressed attitudes.

Individuality rests upon creative interpretations of value. Such self derived understanding brings one into the world as oneself; as who one has chosen to be.

3. Value and Interaction

Previously delivered was a portrait of value as a format of interpretation. Rather than attempting to establish it as an absolute feature of the world encountered, value was instead demonstrated to a method of comprehension, personal attitude being the matter to be comprehended. Yet acts of value involve more than just the attitude of the individual committing them. Acts of will directed towards the world, and towards objects encountered within it. Expressions of will involve one with these objects, a further issue to be comprehended.

The fundamental nature of living being exhibits itself as acts of intent directed towards objects of will. Such intentional behavior properly labeled volition, a primary characteristic of living being. This feature is a defining quality of personal existence. Volition orients itself towards the items inhabiting one's world. These objects are selected and understood as to their relevant merit by means of one's value system. One commits acts of will for the sake of a desired objective. This objective is clearly defined through a value agenda.

This illustration of volitional activity describes a material event, a situation to be observed. What can be seen here is an individual actively moving through space, dynamically interacting with the situation encountered. In this process, select entities are seized and utilized, others passed over. An understanding guides this sequence of interactions, and it is here that value once again makes an appearance.

A sense of purpose guides these acts of will. One relates to particular elements, utilizes particular objects, for the sake of a goal. This desired result is defined and interpreted by means of a value priority, a circumstance sought out as possessing merit. A value concept describes a clear relationship between oneself, one's objects of will, and one's acts of intent, aligning these elements towards one's defined goals.

One walks along, discovering a coin lying in one's path. One naturally proceeds to collect and pocket this discovered item of value. This common scenario provides a convenient example of value directed behavior, as seen from the outside. So what role did value play here?

Recall, at this point, that what is being sought out is the most basic demonstration of value in action. This picture will provide a foundation for comprehending more complex and relevant examples, and finally for seeing individualist value in action. In this case, it will be seen from the outside.

The value principle most easily identified here would be profit. As a term, profit describes a context of worth pertaining to certain items, rendering them objects of value. It defines a standard of value as well as a priority of action proceeding from this standard. Illustrating this agenda in action, what can be observed is a sequence of motivated physical behaviors, relating to an object. In this case, bending down and grasping a coin. A clear relation was demonstrated between both the individual and the object in order to make this action possible. This relation provided by the value concept 'profit', which defined the relevance of the particular object in question; the coin.

However, ethics generally tends to address more involved examples of value, often involving two or more individuals acting in tandem. So how does this coordinating function of value perform in this context? Exchange would offer a more typical scenario for ethical description. Observing an act of exchange, what can be seen is an object of value brought into a common relevance between two participating individuals. When this same coin is later spent on a newspaper, an act of exchange occurs, and certain terms guide this act. This guidance is provided by the working value premise, trade in this case.

The fact that this value concept is subscribed to by both individuals is the only reason that such a coordinated activity is possible between them. The value concept defined why these actions were performed.

So the concrete example of value is now outlined. Living being exhibits itself as acts of intent towards the objects of one's world. Whether picking an apple or throwing a rock through a window; value coordinates this physical dynamic by defining purpose. Having taken the time to draw this extensive portrait of value in action, the question remains; what does this have to do with individuality?

If value coordinates behavioral self expression, what impact does the source of one's values have on one's existence? A particular term of description comes to the fore at this point, and that term is role.

Role is a term defining a deeper sense of the actions one commits. A single act may be seen and defined, so may a sequence of acts. Yet a sense of meaning stands ready to be drawn out of this scenario, one that explains one's history of willful commitments more deeply. Role is an abstraction, one that defines the context of one's behavior. This deeper conception also serves to orchestrate acts of will, providing a framework within which purpose may be clearly defined.

So the final perspective reached from the preceding description was that values served to orchestrate behavior. This coordinated, value directed activity comes to be understood as one's role, a sense of meaning guiding one's volitional acts.

The development of this sense of meaning determines the range of value expression one may achieve. What one will accomplish, or even attempt, is a product of the vision offered by the role definition one subscribes to. This definition is open to owned or disowned alternatives, as well. Individuality is a type of role, a qualification that establishes one's role as self determined.

The advantage drawn from owned value is apparent. Freely chosen and originally interpreted value concepts provide a personal orchestration of active intent; one's acts of will are now self directed. This creative volitional expression yields a role of one's own; an autonomous definition of the part one will play.

Disowned role confers a restricted perspective, as well as a lack of options. Second hand value agendas, attended to with a sense of self denial, deliver a role dictated by foreign influence. This context of action is subscribed to one whose existence it has claimed, yet this is no subscription of choice. This role is not accepted as a free choice among alternative options, but often mistaken as the limits of value itself.

Owned value provides more than just a set of personal judgments; it facilitates authorship of an original definition of the role one will enact. A legitimate perspective on the freedom available to one's choices of value now translates into an evolved regard for the open range of role descriptions one may bring to life. Liberated sentiment turns to autonomy in action, and individuality becomes a real event.

Offered here is a description of a certain mode of action. A particular living being willfully moves through its world, acting and interacting. This sequence of expressions exhibits a distinct quality, originating from a distinguished attitude. Value lies at the center of this process, linking these two elements. Individualist value principles derive a performance of self stylized will out of an attitude resolutely addressed.

Having approached owned value from within and from without; a third perspective still awaits. What self description is at work in the midst of this phenomenon? How does one define oneself as the source of this expression? What place does self definition hold in self actualization? The investigation now turns to self comprehension; its format and utility.

~3. Existence and Occupation

Up to this point, individuality has been treated as a matter of value. Approaching individualism from this direction makes sense, as a particular sense of value characterizes the individual as distinct from most other personality types. Even so, more can be made out of this topic than ethics alone. In pursuit of this sense of self, some deeper issues have surfaced, and demand treatment.

Foremost among these is the matter of the individual's existence. What exactly is the individual? What is the constitution of the subject at stake? How is this structure of selfhood to be understood?

The remaining topics of discussion will be grounded on this foundation. The array of issues that develop out of individuality will proceed from this basis of understanding what the individual is. This foundation will be essential in understanding the principles of individuality to be offered. Understanding what the individual does will begin by understanding what the individual is.

To begin this search for substantiality, what has been seen of the individual up to now? What has the subject shown itself to be, and what type of being can be inferred from this evidence?

Self is an inevitable topic for philosophical debate. This subject is encountered and dwelt upon for a simple reason: thinking involves self awareness. This awareness of oneself calls for a definition; what is one aware of? The search for a definition of self is the attempt to answer this question.

This intrinsic sensation is a core perception, a ground for the spectrum of perceptions one gathers in the course of living existence. The experience of self awareness is a direct intuition; the matter of debate is merely the relevance assigned to it. How is this impression defined and regarded? What context of meaning explains it?

Selfhood is a concept which seeks to establish a framework of meaning around this perception, orienting it sensibly. Self is a structure, much like the structures offered previously. The description it delivers integrates multiple elements together within a single definition, rendering them intelligible.

The point may be made that the priority of defining the self and its basic constitution is optional. Frequently, reflection upon this matter adopts a position of denial towards the reality of the concept of the self, treating selfhood as irrelevant. The choice taken here is one of turning away from personal experience and towards participation within larger systems. The descriptions derived by this priority reflect the sense of meaning at work. The illustrations they provide may prove accurate within their own limits. Yet the point stands: evasion of the issue of self is still a choice, not an objective necessity of truth.

Selfhood, and the descriptions yielded by this concept, are likewise a free choice. The individualist thinker attempts to define matters of living existence through this term of description. In doing so, one clearly places the focus upon one's experience of oneself, deeming it primarily relevant.

So on this basis, how will the topic of what one is to be approached? A schematic of self is under pursuit; what must it explain in order to prove effective?

One approach to defining the self focuses on it as a connection that unites a chain of separate experiences. The continuity joining the sequence of impressions that occur in the course of living existence is the element of self, according to this definition. Through the phenomena of self, one's multiple living experiences are all experienced as oneself.

Yet an alternative course will be taken here. This effort is more fundamental: living existence is to be treated as a single experience, and to be described in terms of its qualities and nature. What is the basis of living experience as an event? What systems of meaning underlie living being as a whole? The previous reflections on value raised three elements as central: attitude, volition, and identity. The search for the structure of self may reasonably begin here.

The path of description taken showed an attitude, a state of being manifested by an individual, expressed as volitional activity towards a world encountered. Identity arose within this process, a self description resulting from the act of witnessing oneself as the cause of the event. Self identification is the method of comprehending oneself and one's activity within the circumstances of one's situation.

Value was shown to make identity an issue of priority, an agenda to be met. Still, what more can be said of the self which underlies this description? What is being described?

Beyond a connected chain of personal experiences, a unity must be found. What unites these core elements of living being; attitude, volition, and identity, into a single expression of living being? Meaning acts to integrate these three elements in question. A set of meaningful descriptions relates attitude, volition, and identity into a coordinated activity.

In the absence of meaningful alignment, attitudes amount to mere disconnected experiences of mood. Volitional activity, as meaningless, amounts to no more than random acts without direction or significance. Identity without meaning yields a label of self delusion; a mere character on paper.

Integrated within a personal context of meaning, all three elements achieve substantial reality. Within this framework of comprehension known as meaning, the phenomenon of living existence is the expression they manifest. This context of meaning is a particular format of understanding. The term for this format is theme.

An array of personal meanings are at work within the self aware living being known as the individual. The system through which they relate and function is a theme of life. This grounding description defines one's being in abstract terms, delivering a single sense of meaning which addresses one's own existence.

This integration is a primary determining factor in the quality and character of the individual who holds it. More than any other element brought into this inquiry, it shapes the existence of the subject in consideration. As such, theme is offered as the constitution of the self. Thematic self awareness is the result; self perception comprehended in terms of the meaning of one's own life. Thematic self awareness is the phenomenal basis of human being. Stated simply, one is a theme of life.

From this platform, what can be stated about the terms of individual existence? What does this thematic constitution have to do with individuality?

Individuality may also be regarded as a state of being. A particular type of existence is at hand here, one exists as an individual entity. The effort here is to describe individuality in existential terms.

The former passages approached the topic of individualism in terms of ethics, illuminating a select set of issues. Existential terms of description will highlight a different set of qualities, providing a more fundamental comprehension.

So what does it mean to exist as an individual? How is this sense of personal meaning to be illustrated? An analogy will prove useful here.

Consider a drop of water. One may observe this drop, study it, and conclude to regard it as a distinct and separate object. This amounts to classifying it as an individual entity. A certain physical principle of water is at work here; one known as surface tension. This trait provides cohesion to the mass of liquid, imparting to it a definite shape and boundary. As such, it is sensible to consider the drop as distinct and individual.

Sensible is a tricky description as it is used here. What is meant by it is simply that; it makes sense to think of the drop as individual and distinct. As such, it is labeled as an entity, a term which describes it effectively, and therefore validly. In referring to the drop as individual, one may visualize it clearly and effectively. In other words, it can be understood as distinct.

Now if this same drop were to fall into a puddle, the physical arrangement would change altogether. In this case, the mass of fluid formerly identified by its singular traits has now lost them in becoming integrated into the larger body in which it is now absorbed; the puddle. While it may still be claimed to exist, it is now indistinguishable. It can no longer be legitimately understood as individual. In the absence of distinguishing characteristics, it’s status as a separate entity is now invalid. This is true simply due to the fact that defining the 'drop' as individual offers no comprehensive description or understanding.

The point to be made by this example is that 'individuality' is a format of comprehension, a description which provides a particular type of understanding. Through this comprehension, an item becomes useful in a certain way. Defining something as individual provides a certain intelligibility to the object defined, allowing one to conceive of it in terms of itself alone.

Turning this analogy over onto the topic of theme, a picture becomes clear. Theme is the substance of self aware living being, just as water is the substance of the drop. Original and resolute self definition provides the same cohesion to the one's theme of life that surface tension provided to the drop. It imparts a distinguishing structure and defining character to oneself and one's sense of meaning.

Within these conditions, a self comprehension arises. One may understand oneself and one's existence in terms of one's own. The format of this self conception is individuality.

The product of this level of self comprehension is a unique range of self expression, one made possible by this developed understanding. One may act in terms of one's own on this basis. The character of the role one plays is grounded on the character of one's theme of life.

Lacking thematic self determination, an entirely different picture arises. Like the fallen drop, one's substance is absorbed within a greater body, a general and collective context of meaning. Self conception along the lines of such a mutual theme of life lacks the fundamental trait under consideration here; distinction. Within this context of disowned meaning, one fails to distinguish oneself as a living existent, one's substance being absorbed. Through acceptance of secondhand meaning, one dissolves into the abstract puddle.

So individuality can now be defined as a state of being; a characteristic type of existence. Self defined personal theme is the vital qualification. By means of it, one exists in a particular way; individually.

Thus, the answer to the initial question is at hand. What is the individual? A thematically self defined living being.

Having constructed a platform of existence for the individual, the dynamics which evolve from this type of being are the next topic for investigation. The individual is a being of thematic self awareness. How does this thematic being relate to its world? What are its characteristics?

The character of living existence is quite different from anything inanimate. Within the world one occupies, inanimate objects may be seen to reside statically; to be influenced passively by the forces impacting them.

In contrast, living beings occupy space dynamically. Active intent, expressed into a world surrounding oneself, produces a unique state of being. This state is energetic and proactive, causative in nature, and not merely affected.

The element of theme plays a central role here. Theme acts to relate attitudes towards material events. This is to say that attitudes interact with the situations one encounters by being interpreted through one's theme of life. With attitude, one acts with intent upon the circumstances occurring in one's presence. Through this meaningful participation, a specific type of situation is faced, a condition implicated by one's state of living being. The term is option.

Optiondefines this state of dynamic existence from the viewpoint of the individual personally. This subjective understanding describes a scenario in which multiple routes of action are at hand, various possibilities are available for one's choosing. Option is a crossroads, a divergent path of potential one is faced with by definition as a living being. Theme directs attitude toward this scenario comprehensively, defining the relation of oneself to one's choices intelligibly.

Thus does the element of theme involve itself in the world. A theme of life aligns attitude to option, navigating itself along an avenue directed by personal priority and relevance.

The unusual aspect of this state known as option is that it is perpetual. Even as a path is selected from among from the alternatives available, new possibilities branch out from the route one proceeds along. Living existence is a permanent dichotomy, placing the demand of meaningful decision and commitment upon the living individual for as long as one remains a living being.

This scenario illustrates the terms of living being. Established through it is the basis of value as an intrinsic element of living existence. The active character of the living state manifests itself as option, implicating choice by its very nature. Selection from among alternatives of choice presents a requirement for a standard of selection. Answering this demand is inevitable, denial through random direction or inaction is also a choice, speaking for a distinct standard of value. So value is an inevitable element of life by its very nature. The attempt to come to terms with this implicit phenomena is known as ethics, whatever form such a study assumes.

So while individuality dictates no specific theme upon the one who exhibits it, it denotes a particular grade of theme, an autonomous and open relation to one's own sense of meaning. One who experiences this intrinsic self determination occupies a world as well, and is faced with options.

As individuality means self direction, what primary characteristic underlies the free choices to be made by this autonomous being? While the direction to be taken by a resolute and free individual is a matter beyond outside definition, what trait will yet stand out along this path of progress?

If one element is to stand out as characteristic of this meaningful freedom of will, it is the attitude which drives it. Individuality is a character and quality of a theme of one's own, and a characteristic attitude may be assigned to this display. Resolve is the name of this attitude, and the priority it directs is one of meaningful self actualization. The agenda at work is one of bringing an original and personal context of meaning to realization as a material event. Resolute individuality aspires to manufacture a situation of its own description, to bring its own theme of life into real existence in its world.

An underlying intent qualifies individuality as authentic. Individual resolve seeks to inflict its personal context of meaning upon the world.

~4. Identity and Individualization

1. Illustration of the existence of the individual has uncovered an array of corollary topics. One of these is the matter of identity, and the task at hand is to explore identity as an element of living being. Sought after is simply an understanding of the principles through which personal identity comes about, and the path by which it evolves into individuality.

Defined previously was the nature of the individual's existence as a self aware living being. The dynamic quality of this mode of existence was shown to place a basic demand upon one; that of choosing a direction of progress. Forced to select among alternatives, one draws upon a sense of value for guidance. Static existence would find no need for value or its agendas, but the active nature of living being demands priorities of will; principles to select among multiple options. So value, and likewise ethics, was shown to be directly implicated as an element of living being by definition.

By the same token, identity is implicit as well. The process of self identification is forever at work; through it, one witnesses one's own acts of will. Identity resides at the center of self actualization, providing one a perspective on oneself. Individualist identity provides a particular and developed self perspective, making possible an evolved self insight. The present goal is to understand what individualist identity amounts to, and what it offers.

One is aware of oneself and one's existence. This act of self awareness is a topic for reflection. One describes what one witnesses of oneself, and the definition which proceeds from this process is personal identity. Self identification is a primary act of living existence. The role it plays in this process, and the potential terms on which it plays this role, are the issues at stake.

The subject of personal identity is received in many ways. One engages in the basic act of defining oneself, yet what attitude directed this description? How might the attitude at work have shaped the answer reached? Further, how does one regard the identity one holds, and what sense of purpose applies this self understanding to one's existence?

Identity is vital for the purpose of this text and its subject for a basic reason. Individualism is a particular modification of personal identity. A certain grade of self comprehension is in effect with individuality, and it facilitates an evolved level of self actualization. So this search will aim at discovering the nature of owned identity and the principles which explain it.

Identity is more than just a recognition. One does not merely refer to oneself by this definition, but it serves an active function, as well. Identity is interpreted into self expression. The coordination guiding ones volition is based on the identity one holds. Acts of intent are the ultimate product of the content of one's self description; the realization of the identity of the one committing them.

Personal identity defines who one is in the course of expressing oneself in one's world. The effectiveness of this self description sets the range of self actualization one may achieve. Self actualization is orchestrated by self definition. So the relevance of identity is now apparent: identity sets the limits of living potential.

Realizing the scope of the issue, what may now be said about the nature of personal identity? What understanding of its principles may be reached, and what influence is one capable of exercising in this scenario? To what extent is self determined identity possible?

To answer this, the issue to be explored first is the principles of identity as a fundamental feature. Beyond personal identity, what is identity itself? What type of phenomena is this, and what occurs in the process of identification?

To reach a clear understanding of these questions, a more basic question must first be answered. What occurs in the process of identification?

The goal here is to reach an understanding of what identity means. What does the identity of something amount to? What gives an item its particular identity? In stating the identity of an object, what element of it does one refer to? The answers to these questions will provide insight into the working principles of identity, allowing one to identify meaningfully and effectively. A solid foundation for individualist identity is the result sought after, constituting the underlying motive of these pursuits.

So what does identity refer to? To identify something generally means to assign a description to it; to label it as something. This label acts to single out the object from others; however, the description serves another function as well. An identity states the sum of an entity's principles of activity. In proposing the identity of something, one seeks to profile the nature of the object in question. Identification attempts to explain the item's qualities in sensible terms. What is it? Why is it like that? What does it do?

The basic priority here is one of understanding the object in question in clear terms. Identity is interpreted and defined in order to provide a coherent description of the object's qualities and nature.

How does identity do this? What understanding of identity as a feature guides this attempt at definition? A simple and immediately apparent answer looks to identity as an absolute description. Searching out the 'thing in itself’, the effort is made here to illustrate the inherent nature of the object in correct terms. By this theory, a single description of absolute truth awaits discovery, and only acknowledgement and acceptance of this definition provide a valid understanding of the item identified. Objective truth allegedly lies in wait of discovery, and this single definition of identity alone will supposedly provide a legitimate comprehension of the object in question.

Now the quest for validity driving this attempt at objectivity is legitimate enough in its intention. Yet it falls short on the goal of comprehensive description for one reason: it fails to inquire deeply enough.

Identity implicates more than just an object in itself. Beyond the implicit nature of what one identifies, another issue looms: objective identity neglects to see the deeper aspects of the sense of the act of identification, or the dynamics at work in the identifier. Chasing after an absolute identity, the 'objective' thinker neglects to inquire: what does it mean to identify?"

Glossing over this essential depth of the issue leads one to overlook the vital elements of effective comprehension. Rational or otherwise, a solid perspective on the working elements of the topic is essential; without this depth of understanding, reason has nothing relevant to address.

So after such a critique on objectivity, what can be offered in return? How can these concerns be addressed legitimately? What is the guiding standard of successful knowledge, the qualification of validity that will guide the way towards a meaningful concept of personal identity?

A more insightful approach to the issue of identity is provided by nominalism. This strategy of definition takes an alternative view towards legitimate description, holding effective knowledge as its goal.

Nominal identity is the name for this alternative approach. Rather than setting off in pursuit of an implicit set of qualities, the agenda here is to reach an effective comprehension of the active properties of the object under scrutiny. The focus here is on the observer's understanding, and the definition of identity coined for the object is composed with this requirement in mind.

The priority this establishes is one of providing utility for the inquirer. A valid definition of identity will be one that enables one to visualize the active properties of something clearly and accurately. To identify something in nominal terms is to illustrate it dynamically and insightfully. Nominal description assigns a principle of behavior to an object, and predicts its activity thereby. If this stated principle provides an accurate picture of the object's actual activity, effective truth has been reached. The point of nominalism is that this description is admittedly relative; no claims of absolute objectivity are made. Rather, the effort is simply to portray an item clearly, in whatever terms seem best. Multiple descriptions of the same item may prove equally effective. The working standard of truth reached is not final; a definition of identity may be developed into a more effective form. The deeper comprehension the definition provides, the more effective the identity is. These points that will become centrally relevant in the course of individualist identity.

Identification provides a cognitive handhold upon the object identified. In the process of living existence, one encounters an array of items and one must successfully comprehend these items in order to engage them effectively. Identity is the format of this description applied to these observed objects in order to render them intelligible. This final qualifier; intelligibility, is the legitimate standard of valid definition.

2. So a practical model of knowledge has been offered. In this context, the product of it is nominal identity. What role does this play for personal identity? How does it support individualism?

This qualified relativism proves itself to be not only legitimate, but actually essential in the case of this topic; the act of self identification. Here, identity is a format of description, yet it is not an object that is to be defined. Defined here is a subject, one of active will and free intent. The principles of action and the meanings that support them are the identity of this being, and are inherently subjective in nature. This is due to the fact that this being is a subject, not an object.

So personal identity can be understood as the definition that one assigns to the self that one perceives. Self awareness presents one with an image of who one is and what one is, and the process of interpreting this impression results in personal identity. Identity can be seen as a handhold of utility by which one grasps oneself intelligibly, and utilizes oneself effectively. Coordinated self expression must fall back upon this description, and the comprehension it provides.

What relevance does this hold for the agenda of individuality? What limits and potentials are illuminated here?

Identity is essentially a visualized image of oneself, as one has come to understand who one is. This image is a product of creative imagination, guided by personal comprehension. One conceives oneself in this particular way, and one visualizes one's identity on this conception. Yet how does one go about self conceptualization? On what premise is such self imagination conducted? It is at this juncture that owned identity is won or lost.

To the extent that one defines and pictures oneself independently, identity is owned and self determined. To the extent that foreign propaganda and dictation influence how one imagines and conceives of oneself, identify is disowned.

Acknowledging the open freedom basic to identity, the priority of individualism becomes one of self directed self description. An understanding is to be achieved; one that defines who one is and who one will be. One reaches this understanding oneself. The only question is, does one lead in this process, or merely follow?

Recognizing the type of thinking at work is the first step towards owned identity. On what set of terms does one conceive oneself? How far will one go in this description? How much ability will one show towards defining oneself clearly and meaningfully?

Identity provides a grasp of utility upon oneself. Through it, one may effectively relate to one's own existence. In the case of owned identity, one may conduct this relation independently.

3. What are the realistic terms of this freedom? How seriously can these claims of autonomous identity be taken? What distinguishes legitimate self authorship from simple denial?

An initial distinction stands to be made. The open region of self described here refers to the issue of who one is in contrast to what one is. While qualities such as physical features are obviously fixed, these traits are not the topic of this study. Owned identity addresses the matter of character; the abstract aspect of personal identity. This expressed self interpretation is an appropriate topic for study within value reflections, and the individuality spoken of here addresses character in particular.

So from what ground does character autonomy arise? Up to this point, identity has been considered in cognitive terms, as a piece of information that organized a specific type of awareness. Outside of these data - centered issues, what connection does identity have to one's existence? Is it useful to describe identity in existential terms?

Offered previously was a picture of living existence as optional expression of free will. On this basis, value was shown to be an unrestricted and open matter within the range of one's capacity for meaningful conception. Likewise, identity is a product of this same open freedom. One actively engages opportunity through free acts of will. Accompanying this opportunity is the chance to define who one is and the character one will manifest in that process.

Recognizing this basic freedom is one matter. Seeing to the core of the issue, understanding the depth of this living experience, is something else entirely. Shallower perspectives on the nature of the human phenomena; when seeking out the mechanics of identity and value, look for an underlying structure through which the behavior of these elements is determined. This 'behaviorist' viewpoint begins on the assumption that identity is a symptom; and its search for external causes begins there. Hypothetical connections can be drawn, blame can be placed, and a convincing determinist model of personal identity can be devised. Even with such an array of evidence at hand, would not a certain feeling toward the topic of personal identity appear to have been at work? Might this core sentiment have directed the thinking applied? This type of thinking oversteps itself to establish personal identity as a symptom. Is it merely the conclusion of reason, or an intentional attempt at a certain sort of refuge?

4. One gazes outward into the world one occupies. A particular and dramatic view presents itself: emptiness. Far from a web of guiding structures and barriers, one finds oneself in the midst of an open region. Even among the array of objects one encounters here, only one element stands all- encompassing: the void.

How does one greet this open expanse? What definition of who one is will announce and direct one throughout this oddessy?

A potential of enormous magnitude is at hand here. Engaging it directly and resolutely is an available option. Shirking it in the mode of denial is yet another alternative. It is here that individuality gains its ground, if ever.

Facing this impending abyss of directionless freedom, one chooses one's role. Rejection of the freedom at hand will explain itself and its reasons, employing a vocabulary of disownment. What is explained through the terms used is simply: the potentials one chose to meet. The application of such terms might sound much like the following:

"One must observe the ethical standards set in the interest of social concern." "One cannot define oneself originally; the influence of others is at work even without one's knowing." "Autonomy is meaningless; collective ideologies are the standard of meaning." "Independence equals nihilism; legitimate values stem from the social nature of human existence."

This brief set of examples characterizes a distinct attitude with which this living being reduced and retreated from the openness that was encountered. These 'explanations' offered a confined range of living experience, and allowed for a diminished role in the midst of them. Within this narrow avenue, an intentionally fixed limit of intensity is in effect, and this fugitive from the extreme finds refuge here.

This standing personal choice was made at a certain juncture. A question of the deepest relevance was asked in whatever form it happened to present itself. Who is one? What does this mean? The inevitable demand for an answer brought one to a crossroads. Seeking out the direction appropriate to who one knows oneself to be, attitude made the call.

The attitude and response of disownment has been presented and analyzed. In the midst of this characterization, the vital junctures at which value makes its mark have been isolated and investigated. The next task is to take a second look at this route and these landmarks, and determine how they are engaged and traversed with resolve.

5. Once again, our subject gazes outward, into an empty expanse. Forced to define oneself, this character of resolute value acknowledges a basic and overriding truth: that no defining framework exists. The nature of living existence carries identity as a core structure. What this means is that to be alive necessarily involves asking who one is. The key point is that one experiences this element of identity as a question. Realizing this, the futility of seeking answers of self from one's world becomes apparent. Only a vacuum of meaning is to be found beyond oneself. One may react to this realization with trepidation. Or one may react to it with much more.

An opportunity is at hand, one as great as the space demanding to be filled. The attitude of resolute autonomy openly grasps this vacuum as a blank page. The lack of meaning forced upon one by the world is a resource of a peculiar inverted value; an open region of personal and creative meaning.

The standing alternatives amount to selecting between a tunnel and an open horizon. The evolved self regard of resolute individuality willingly chooses the void as the proper venue for self realization. Challenged to explain oneself, the voice of resolve carries a ready arsenal of personal meaning; definitions and principles that stating who one is and what this means. From such a fortification, the contrary claims of conditioned and dictated identity become transparent for the resignation speaking through them.

6. So far this investigation into the nature of personal identity has illuminated the core of individuality. Individuality is a specific character of personal identity. The element which comprises this is autonomy. Dynamic living being exists in a void, an open region of emptiness; to be filled as one will. The potential for self expression is effectively without external boundary; acts of will may take any shape one is able to give them. In this course, one must define oneself as the instigator of such acts, and this self description is likewise open and beyond restriction, within the limits of coherence. Delivering an evolved and resolute attitude towards to this act of self expression, an opportunity is acknowledged and seized. Resolutely encountering open space as oneself, this level of intent reaches towards a single goal: creative self realization.

This core value agenda of personal realization rests upon a comprehension and definition of self. Recognition of this defining qualification; autonomy, is the platform for a self determined composition and statement of one's identity as a pure act of will. Such identity and will comprise individuality.

The individual of resolve seizes the experience of living being as a blank page, inscribing it with answers of one’s own.

~7. The Priority of Resolve

1. The topic of value has been addressed from several angles thus far. Two important aspects of value as a life element have come out of this reflection. On one hand, value is a fundamental dimension for living existence as a whole. On the other, issues of value can be seen to take a radically different form with the resolute individual, distinguishing the type of values which this character holds, and the novel way of valuing that expresses this developed sense of worth. The section that follows will delve deeper into the matter of the individualist value sense.

Previously, value was seen to be a form of interpreting the attitudes one expressed towards one's world and its contents. Seeing value issues in this way, the focus then turned to the potential value autonomy of original and self guided definition in value matters. Individualist value was offered as the product of this ethical self determination.

Now the issue of value is to be revisited, and a different goal is in mind. When one has taken on the task of reflection on matters of value, and proceeded to define a value context for oneself, the issue will still not be at an end. A final demand yet challenges the individual, and this is the demand for validation. So the task here is to show how legitimacy is achieved by the individual, accounting for the open value sense held by the resolute character. A basic way of encountering and establishing values will be seen at work within this standard of self validation, and this peculiar value context will be distinguished from two others, offered for comparison.

2. So to begin, the underlying intent here is to reach a standard of qualification through which the various value choices that present themselves may be weighed. Many such options exist, any of these alternatives of action may be attended to. How is one to qualify a selection of one's own? Which path of value directed action will be established to be legitimate? How will one define this claim towards validation, particularly when one must reach for it in explaining one's own actions? What does individuality have to say in response to the challenge for self validation? What context of personal legitimacy does the resolute individual hold to?

The nature of the subject itself makes answering this question difficult. It would be convenient enough to merely regard certain stated values as legitimate, and proceed to recognize this agenda as constituting validity. Such a restricted set of "authorized intentions" make for a simple standard of validity, one is either pursuing legitimate ends or one is not. Defining a limited set of accepted intentions is a common approach to these ethical questions. Yet it remains dogmatic in the extreme, and disallows the autonomy aspired to by individuality. As such, a deeper standard of merit will be required for this purpose; one that looks beyond the single acts being committed.

No effort has been made here to compile list of values appropriate to individuality. The reason is simple; no such set of value ends exists to be read off. Individuality means autonomy by definition. So no single set of answers will prove effective for individualistic existence on the whole. Rather, what must be established is a manner in which these values are held; freely. Whatever choice is made by a resolved individual, it means something to make this choice on one's own terms. This sense of meaning orients oneself towards one's existence and one 's choices in a unique way, and individualism properly comprises a collection of principles which define this self alignment.

When it comes to value, the resolute individual will determine a personal agenda, and define this agenda meaningfully. No higher doctrine can legitimately replace this self determined act; and the character of self resolve will not willingly delegate away the responsibility of establishing personal value priorities. Beyond the set of goals ultimately accepted and attended to, this character will value these things in a distinct way. Behind this is the evolved sense of self validation that fuels this pursuit. The present goal is to uncover this definition of validity, and go on to recognize the manner in which the actions of the self liberated individual are legitimized.

3. In making a description, one attempts to define what can be observed clearly and impartially about something. In making a prescription, by contrast, a different kind of statement altogether is forwarded. A prescription, rather, is a recommendation. Instead of merely describing a set of facts or offering an observation, prescribing something amounts to presenting a demand, relaying an order. This type of statement is an imperative, a call for action.

The area into which the investigation now proceeds brings a new side of ethics to light. Speaking about the dynamics of value within life amounts to descriptive ethical principles. Yet to establish a position and claim it as one's own, one will have to address the other side of this coin, as well. Prescriptive ethical thought forwards a value imperative. Prescriptive ethics presents an agenda to be met.

So a leap into new territory has been taken. The investigation can no longer make due with basic reflections and posited principles. Now the issue is one of taking a stand with the values one holds to, and validating them through meaningful definition.

The ethical focus up till now has been directed towards value autonomy. Individuality strives to highlight the open freedom to be discovered here, dwelling foremost upon the role played by one who values. So for the matter of prescriptive ethics, individuality would offer a recommendation towards self determined value principles and goals.

What kind of ethical prescription does this amount to? Autonomy alone amounts to an ambiguous recommendation. One can defend the merit of keeping the alternatives open reasonably enough, yet this does little to qualify one specific choice over another. And even the most autonomous individual will eventually have to choose one alternative in favor of the next. With no immediate answer in sight, one might easily abandon the quest for self validation at this point, concluding that all value distinctions were meaningless.

Within the value freedom that one will experience, one will face the need for self commitment to a specific path and goal. In so doing, the legitimacy of this selected course of action will come into question. To resolve this question, what will be required is a statement of one's sense of value priority. Such a statement will explain why one utilized one's freedom in the way that one did. As well, it will tell of the attitude one has towards this freedom.

So an advocate of individuality adopts a position of value committing to a certain agenda. How will this advocate substantiate these personal goals? The position of individuality itself presents the greatest obstacle here. In its perspective, any particular value directives are personal, and relevant only to the subject who acts upon them. This individual's theme of life, hopefully one that is unique, will define its own proper value agenda. This core position on value disallows any attempt to qualify one's own particular value system as 'absolute'. As a result, the individualist cannot claim a universal validity for personal value choices. They remain personal, and if they are to be validated, they must attain validity on this level. So how will these choices be qualified as meaningful?

In the attempt to justify a certain ethical position, a typical strategy is one that might be called universalization. Proclaiming the universal relevance and merit of the values that one holds is a common claim. In making a claim such as this, the values at stake are portrayed in a pivotal role within living existence as a whole. This absolute relevance is the basis for justifying these values personally, in this way of thinking.

Self resolve quickly distances itself from such a standard. Individuality looks beyond meager justification as a priority, it rather seeks self validation. In light of this intention, values are not subjects for prosecution or defense, they are instead weighed for the validity they hold to oneself. By what standard will one come to recognize one's own values as valid on a personal level? Validity means commitment to the alternatives of action that one engages.

So individuality seeks a new kind of qualification. This version of merit is to be qualitative. A distinguishing quality will stand out in every value that one manifests. The qualification spoken of here is aesthetic in nature. The resolute individual will act upon values of choice, and stake their validity on the aesthetic merit they reflect. Justification is neither sought nor required.

A particular grade of character and sense of meaning come to light in the act of expressing one's values. In acting out one's agenda, deeper qualities of self are brought to light. Claims for the legitimacy of one's values may be based on many standards; one may find a variety of reasons to establish one's merit and approve one's goals. Yet character rises above the rest of the considerations for the resolute individual, character expression itself is a core issue. Self characterization itself is a grounding priority for individuality, and a basis for its value concerns as a whole. As such, the deepest issue at stake with any reflection on values will be this: what type of character will it yield? In acting upon this value agenda, what implication will it hold for one's self characterization?

The aesthetic is the beautiful, the element of the sublime in things cherished for their cultivated qualities. One's character, too, can be the subject of such a description.

An exceptional standard of validity has been presented here. Challenged to validate acts of will, the resolved individual pointed to the beauty and character of the acts themselves. With regard to this, the values behind these acts were held as legitimate.

Value legitimacy may be invested in many things. Various standards may be observed in defending acts of will for their ethical merit. Three different examples of such standards are now to be compared with each other, including the one just mentioned.


A primitive form of value directive is labeled duty. This form of value dogmatism offers a prefabricated conception of merit, and of one's role in following its guidelines. 'One's duty' spells out a specific list of demands to be observed without question. Thrust upon one here is a sense of disowned responsibility, one is subject to external expectation and censure, duty is delivered as an absolute. Sanction is to be assigned by it.

Duty removes ethical issues from the active reflection and interpretation of one who acts. This is its defining trait. Prescriptions of duty call for absolute recognition, while vetoing any personal viewpoint of the subject who it calls upon.

The dogmatic aspect of duty is clear when one observes this: in presenting its demands, duty makes no appeal to reason in substantiating its authority. In stating an obligation to another as a duty, or in attending to a demand out of a sense of duty, the justification rests not upon reasons, but upon a value imperative held as an unquestionable absolute. Personal will is discounted, no accord is given to an individual's own position. In observing a sense of duty, a primary submission is at work. With the compromise of one's self determined stance on the issue, the potential for further reconsideration and deeper understanding of the matter are forfeited. Duty delegates away freedom of will, replacing it with a context of authority. From this position, one will have nothing more of one's own to say.

Duty is itself a broad term. The word itself is part of the vocabulary of ethics, and finds a wide range of applications. Many different systems of ethical thought may raise this term, and these positions on value may be quite unalike. Yet a solid motive supports grouping this entire range of ethical positions under the single term "prescriptions of duty". When demands are placed upon one in the name of value, and these prescribed actions are commanded rather than explained, a defining feature of the claims and their source has come to light. Value positions of this nature may rightly be understood as a single type, as the ethics of duty. In subscribing to a sense of duty, one delegates away one's potential for personal autonomy and owned value.

So duty is one form of value prescription. It can be evaluated in light of its character, sense of meaning, and the type of values it manifests.

Another type of prescription is known as ethical objectivity, or naturalism. Ethical naturalism views value concepts much differently. The goal of this kind of ethical thought is to recognize the basic principles of life, and draw from them a natural concept of well being defined by process of reason. Values are to be interpreted from out of this model of positive living existence, defined through objective study. The value principles thus produced are held to be implicitly valid. The basic position on which this claim rests is that effective reasoning will come to only one set of conclusions on this matter, and that these 'objective values' are natural phenomena; that they allegedly exist on their own, waiting to be discovered as facts. Naturalism seeks to conduct an analysis of pure reason on the subject of life. The results of this thought are also a value agenda, one that is prescribed as legitimate. This version of value legitimacy stands upon reason for its justification.

The attempt at objective value amounts to a great advance over duty. In looking to facts and reason as guidelines for action, a more developed role has been assumed by this type of thinker. With this, the responsibility for distinction and validation are assumed personally. This sense of responsibility is unknown to the believer in duty. In searching for the answers oneself, value itself becomes something more.

Yet even with this advancement, owned value is still not at hand. In its reduction of the living experience of value, naturalism still imitates duty in one significant way. A sense of personal direction is being sought from outside sources, even if one seeks to understand it on one's own. This sense of direction ispurpose, an underlying context of meaning that shapes one's acts of will.

In subscribing to a concept of ethical duty, one elects to forego personal reflection on these matters and instead draw value guidance from a foreign source. A definite attitude can be seen at work in accepting such direction. A basic submission is on display. A potential for radical self determination in thought and action is available. Acknowledged or not, it is this developed sense of purpose that is abandoned here. A particular attitude leads this believer in duty into self default. The nature of this default lies in foregoing this type of self definition and instead petitioning for guidance and purpose from another. The product is value disownment.

So the core of attitude that drives the sense of duty is quite determining. The relevant point here is that it this sense that is still at work in the quest for objective values, and a similar self disownment can be seen to result.

While the follower of duty asks for a sense of purpose from authority, the devotee of naturalism seeks to discover it in the principles of nature. As much as these intentions may differ, they are still alike in one vital way; they both ask. Neither of them announce. The decisive factor for both examples is an apparently implicit assumption that legitimacy is something predefined and absolute to be discovered somewhere outside.

Observing the standards of reason in one's thinking is one matter. Foregoing creative self actualization in the name of reason is another matter entirely. The objectivist utilizes reason with a reduced intent. The attitude with which values are defined and applied is still one of self renunciation, and the result is still disownment. In this search for a logical definition of positive living existence, does this objective thinker take a moment for self appraisal, looking at the attitude with which this search is conducted?

The objection made against naturalism and its search for objective value is this: value is not an issue of natural principles, it is an issue of a living subject, one who interprets things in a way of one's own. Ethical objectivity overlooks a basic quality of value. Value will remain a greatly subjective issue, because value comes from the subject, not the object. Value is interpreted and expressed, not merely discovered. Drawn into this process are the aspects of free option and personal meaning. With this, value remains a subjective issue, constantly resisting universalization. Objectivist viewpoints overlook this subjective ground of value.

With a sufficiently developed attitude, one may begin to seek these answers from within and recognize creative self manifestation as the standard of ethical merit. This is the achievement of owned value. The directives of action that it prescribes comprise an aesthetic prescription.

Opposed to petitioning the world for answers of self, aesthetic value directives acknowledge the individual oneself as the proper agent of free and original composition. The distinction is between life that inquires as to its purpose, versus life that states itself purposefully.


So three different types of value expectation are now contrasted; duty based, naturalistic and aesthetic. Three different types of ethical prescriptions calling for action develop from them. The distinctions of an aesthetically driven sense of value are clear. The sense of worth at stake is personal, and the search is for self validation.

Therefore, an individual acts upon this originally composed value premise, and stands before the results. What can now be said?

What the resolute individual overcomes here is the element of obligation. The limited viewpoint can see no further than obligation, meeting value terms as ground level demands. It is this attitude that aesthetic value seeks to overcome.

Opposed to obligations, the aesthetic value premise stems from a vision of personal merit and meaning as its standard of positive value. This is to be the prescribed value agenda. This evaluator offers a radically different kind of recommendation, supported by a distinguished level of legitimacy.

This original concept of worth, defined meaningfully, is offered for judgment. It remains to the observer to agree or not. One engineers a personal creative vision of value, and presents it for assessment. This is the manner in which these values are advocated. Rather than calling upon authority or absolutes in its defense, this individual looks for no support other than the aesthetic merit and character of the value achievement. On this basis, the resolute claimant posits these acts as validated, and advocates a sense of value.

Pronouncements of such a personal nature must find their own proper audience. A particular value recommendation stems from a corollary attitude. This recommendation may be received effectively by those sharing in this same attitude. For a listener who subscribes to this basis an effective value concept will align this attitude meaningfully.

This alignment of attitude is the primary useful function of value concepts. If effective, they integrate attitudes into action in clear terms. One experiences a state of attitude, and through a value concept one directs that attitude towards specific objects within a clear context of meaning. Obviously, one must share in the basis of attitude to which the value speaks for this to be relevant.

A value premise can only speak to those sharing in the attitudes that formed it. The value premise of individuality springs from a specific attitude. For those who reflect it, the values in question will find their useful place. Outside of this, no claim will establish any further level of validity. None is offered.

~8. A Role of One's Own

The inquiry into the meaning of individuality now reaches its conclusion. The issue has been defined through a series of terms, and by this means a framework has been imposed upon it. The intention has been to develop a stronger sense of meaning for this subject called "individualism". If one now has a clearer and more effective idea of what one's own individuality can and might mean; if the idea of individualistic self expression is seen within a deeper perspective, then these investigations have yielded a profit.

As yet, one more topic remains to be addressed. The final issue will be the matter of the individual's ultimate frontier of self-disclosure. This is the matter of rolehood. With the act of playing a role, one devises a context of self expression, and interaction for the sense of personal meaning that one has coined for oneself.

One can hold individualism as a working life premise; as a philosophy of thought and action, and manifest it in who one is. It can be an undeniable trait of one's character, clearly evident in the performance of one's life.

As one acts out one's individuality upon the world, the world will play witness to who one is and what one does. And in its response, a situation will arise around one. Beyond the realm of personal meaning, one's philosophy of life becomes an event. It is within this broader scope that the final comprehension of individuality must proceed.

To conceive of oneself as a scientist, poet, journalist, or even a philosopher, is to lay claim to a role. It comprises the part one will act out. To play this part, one will have to execute a series of relevant actions; deeds assigned by the definition of the role at stake. A role may simply assign to one a personal function, such as a job description. Or role may define one's part more deeply, delivering an abstract orientation; such as leader, follower, bystander, innovator, commentator, traitor, and such.

So to define a role for oneself is to explain one's actions in a deeper sense. Along the way, a place for oneself in the center of these acts of will is established. "This is what is to be done, this is the type of person who does it." Rolehood is the format in which this description occurs.

With this primary model in hand, the next issue is to reinterpret this idea of playing a living role into the more developed description of individuality.

In playing the part of the individualist - in playing the individualized role type- one is guided by the concept of a liberated personal identity, and driven by the ambition for autonomous and meaningful self legislation towards goals of one's own.

In proceeding further to define individuality in these terms, an advantage is to be secured. The ground to be gained is this: autonomous acts of will are to be comprehensible and definable in terms of the situation one acts within. Owned value expression is to be interpreted into the realistic circumstances one will face.

A collection of issues were brought into the reflections that have been treated by the investigation up to this point. These matters may be further reduced to two primary considerations: the necessary conditions on which free value expression can exist, and the personal meaning that such may hold for the individual who instigates them. A third aspect now enters the forum. It is that of validity.

One will draw up a part to play in the events surrounding one, and will go on, hopefully, to manifest the character to play the part with distinction. Yet realities will have to be addressed, and challenges to this position will be encountered. How will these countering viewpoints be engaged? What will one have to say for oneself in response?

One could go to extremes in defining a role for oneself to play, and invest everything one is and intends to be into it. Such a campaign could wind up concluding with the discovery that one's terms were pointless, one's agenda irrelevant, or one's context of meaning ultimately incoherent. So the necessity for self validation becomes clear.

If one's role is to be a lasting achievement, a serious self appraisal is called for. One would seek to play a part that brought one's deepest values to life. Such resolve would stop at nothing in its crusade to characterize itself to the fullest. The role one will play in meeting this agenda will announce a deeply held sense of personal meaning clearly and directly. One would aspire to make one's role expression legitimate and meaningful, correct? Can such qualification not be seen as primarily contingent for self realization?

So the issue becomes one of motive. Upon what ground will an honest self appraisal be effectively conducted?

What is one after, really? In facing a challenge top one's role and the deeds it entails, does one answer with a resolute clarity, or a flinch of self deceit? Is one's value agenda embraced wholeheartedly and announced with a proud devotion?

A definite strategy is at work within this questioning of motive. What is to be established is the nature of the role being played. A core of attitudes is at work within the role one acts out. The authenticity of these attitudes as one holds them; the self resolve with which one engages these states of mind, the strength of character through which one drives one's attitudes from internal experience into living realization, these are the defining elements through which role is validated.

One acts out the deeds defined by one's accepted role description. Do these acts truly announce what is at the bottom of one's heart? How much of oneself is in one's deeds? Is the commitment driving these actions legitimate? Might playing this part be considered a pure expression of will? Are these one's real attitudes?

With the preceding reflections upon legitimacy, an agenda has been set. Resolved to be an individual of meaning and purpose, significant personal reflection is to be given towards the role one is to play. Validity will be seen to be a particular way in which one relates to one's own role expression and the experience of playing it.

To orchestrate the type of living expression in question here, a preliminary insight into this process will be required. Owned role is the condition to be met. Thus, the terms of this grade of self expression must be recognized. Along the way, an understanding of the player's real position towards life itself will become evident. The inherent freedom available to one in the living experience of rolehood and involvement with the world at large is a basic lesson to be learned. More, it is the perspective upon which an owned existence is to be grounded.

To begin this inquiry, what does disowned role playing amount to? What viewpoint is at work within it? Disownment is above all a product of accepting terms of conduct which are irrelevant or falsely subscribed to.

Autonomy has been a central definition within the text thus far. As for the matter of rolehood, individuality would highlight the possibility of freedom, indicating an open expanse of potential involvement with one's world.

Value, identity, and life theme have all been presented as potential venues for independent self expression. Conversely, each of these aspects of living existence carries the possibility of forfeiture. The contingent factor is this: is the meaning of each of these issues of life independently defined and freely held? Is the meaning of who one is what one strives towards, a meaning that one states for oneself? Or is it dictated?

Likewise with the element of role. A role description can be original or dictated. As well, one may select among these alternatives with conviction and courage, or concede to the coercive influences of the world one faces. One may acknowledge one's open freedom as an agent of liberated value, or one may comprehend the situation falsely, believing that artificially narrow parameters define the limits of one's horizon.

The disowned perspective commits the most grievous errors in defining for itself a part to play. With a limited vision of self in hand, the disowned role player goes on to accept this model of personal existence and potential as an absolute "limit potential".

Obligation, duty, dogma; whatever name such false constraints upon autonomy hide behind, the impact is the same. One will proceed to imagine oneself into only the selected and approved role types. With this key act of self alignment; imagination of oneself, one’s effective boundaries of self actualization are established. One can play the role that one can visualize coherently.

The stance of ethical legitimacy is a position of clear resolve one brings into the situation one acts towards. It stands on a sense of one's own veracity. The truth it accesses is a set of clear and meaningful answers to the issues previously indicated. What values are at work? What terms do they demand? Who acts upon them? Why are they desirable? What sense of purpose drives them? What does it mean to advocate this directive, and what does it mean to play the role of this advocate?

When these answers are at hand, when this scheme of intention can be coordinated in this manner, legitimate value is at work.

The key point is this: the particular value priority is not the issue. The intelligible orchestration of the values that are inherent to one's basic nature are the conditions of self validation.

From out of these investigations into value, a final position stands out. Role is a choice, and role validity is nothing other than success at achieving that goal. When one defines a single role or value agenda as solely legitimate, the true nature of role playing is obscured. When one sees past one's personal allegiance and looks to the structure of role expression, a deeper and more effective concept of validation may be acknowledged.

Individual taste aside, value expression is a potential that is either realized or forfeited. A value agenda that is defined clearly and actualized resolutely can reach meaningful realization. This presents a challenge to the willing advocate of ethical autonomy. Is one willing to recognize the achievement of this standard, even when the values at work are not one's own?

When one must at last settle upon a final allegiance, when the most fundamental priority must be chosen, which is it to be; authenticity or partisanship?

So the source of authentic individualist role development is at hand. One issue stands out: do these acts of will come from the heart? Does one's role speak for who one is, and is it spoken clearly? Is oneself in one's actions?

A set of attitudes is deeply rooted within one. One can embrace these sentiments openly, or turn a blind eye to oneself. One can recognize the truth of what one is, or forfeit the opportunity for resolute self disclosure. These options are forever at hand, and it is only an attitude towards oneself that separates them.

Authenticity plays a role that comes from the core. Such acts of will are committed to in the depths of one's heart, and reflect a loyalty to oneself beyond all else.