Saturday, June 7, 2008

The essence of individualism

The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek:
This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish or ought to be. It merely starts from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of the whole society, and that, since, strictly speaking, scales of value can exist only in individual minds, nothing but partial scales of values exist--scales which are inevitably different and often inconsistent with each other. From this the individualist concludes that the individuals should be allowed, within defined limits, to follow their own values and preferences rather than somebody else's; that within these spheres the individual's system of ends should be supreme and not subject to any dictation by others. It is this recognition of the individual as the ultimate judge of his ends, the belief that as far as possible his own views ought to govern his actions, that forms the essence of the individualist position.

1 comment:

Jon said...

I was initially questioning your "I've never been able to resolve the conflict in my head between liberal thought and social conservatism, and there are still areas of conflict, but it's now clear to me that liberalism is the foundation for morality--without it, morality cannot exist." and had to examine the 'real' definitions of those words and now everything dawns on me. Please keep enlightening me and hopefully others.