Summary: Collectivism sees entities holistically, looking at them as rock solid units or “atoms”. Individualism sees most entities as being made up of smaller subunits, and looks to the behavior of these subunits for answers, although this does not deny the role of the collective. In reality no one is a perfect collectivist or a perfect individualist, but rather somewhere in between. We must decide what level we want to begin our analysis on. With reference to human society, most individualists take human individuals as being the primary starting point of analysis, although human psychology may also be referenced as a subunit. A collectivist will start with class, race, or nationality.
Summary: In this article I provide simple examples of collectivist and individualist thinking to provide clarification on the previous article in this series. A collectivist viewpoint often overlooks important aspects of what is going on in a given situation. With this said, collectivist generalization can be very useful by greatly simplifying the situations that we are analyzing. We should always be aware of how our ideas are simplified and be ready to utilize a more accurate individualist understanding when necessary.
Summary: We are now examining collectivism and individualism from a moral standpoint. Individualism respects individuals and their particular goals as ends in themselves. Collectivism respects individuals only insofar as they aid in the achievement of a greater goal. Individualists can accept alternative lifestyles and opinions, while to collectivists any opinion that violates their greater goal is an existential threat. The representation of collectivism and individualism within this article are “perfect” or extreme poles that most people fall between.