As some know and as many more shall know, since the beginning of my philosophical journey towards self-actualization, I have always been sticking around the theory of individualism, and even formed an ideology of my own, which presents a more radical form of it. However regardless of the insights I have reached during my contemplations, I have never found anyone fully agreeing with me and my opinions. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop me from aspiring to ascend further and further from the depths of mainstream-agreed assumptions, so I may seek to explore a better sun to receive better, metaphorical vitamins and heat from.
One of the current, overall-agreed-upon assumptions (as I claim that there is no such thing as “objective opinion”, and there’s always room for development) is that the individual is a product which stays in a constant state of dependence on the environment for his existence and consciousness, to a point he/she is always dependent on the environment just about everything.
I find this assumption, although highly convincing, quite problematic, in comparison to the definition of the individual; a concept which is widely used in English and, I assume, in other languages as well. Who is exactly the individual, and why the claim that the individual is always dependent, can be considered illogical? Well, it is because the definition of the individual (a free, autonomous being), in addition to the said mainstream assumption creates a paradox. Is it logical that a free, autonomous being is an entity which constantly remains in a state of dependence on other objects, other than itself? This fallacy may lead to a very drastic, and even underestimating conclusion: that the concept of individualism is a lie which needed to be reshaped in accordance to our globalized, interconnected society of our world.
Evidence of the loss of individuality is evident, and may unfortunately be more persistent as our technology shall advance. Decreasing privacy, high general social anxiety, reinforcement of conformity and constant attempts to escape loneliness than facing it straightforwardly (which I believe is an important condition of a truly autonomous individual) – all of these are important examples that may indicate that in the future, unless dealt with and reconsidered – may threaten the virtues of individuality: autonomy, liberty, independent thought and the courage to venture beyond the various conveniences of our collectives.
In this article I shall attempt to prove that individuality may be not a lie, but a logical and convincing assumption, even if it may, as usual with my writings, may awaken controversies. After some thought I brought up an idea that each and every one of us, besides our necessary-environmentally-dependent traits, may also contain unnecessarily-environmentally-independent traits, which consist of an inner self which I call The Autonomous Self. In accordance, I assume that the elementary definition of “self” may be the collections of its traits. Before I shall proceed with examples of such possible traits, I shall give the required characteristics for a trait to be considered as such:
1) The trait ought to operate regardless of environment. This is what we strive to achieve in this article: the possibility of a trait which can exist with no dependence to a specific environment for it to rely upon.
2) The trait can be “autistic”, or in other words, inner-directed. As an advocate for individualism I claim that we all have our own inner lives, which do not depend upon other entities for them to exist and to consist. It is important to note that it does not necessarily mean egoistic, although it may be accepted as such. Even when inwards, it doesn’t always have to be about the person themselves, even though every person is the creator, and perhaps master, of their own inner lives and whatever happens inside it.
3) The trait can exist without external projection. The philosophical approach of behaviorism, which claims a mental state is identical to a certain behavior or to a set of behaviors, have been proved to be false regardless of the support it used to have. This proves that the states of the self can exist without external projection which may depend upon interaction with the self’s environment, and that interaction is not necessary for such a self to exist.
4) The trait can be created by the means of mono-action: Unlike interaction, mono-action, as the name implies, is an action which created solely by one individual.
With those circumstances in mind (and no, just because I call them as such it doesn’t mean the autonomous self is dependent on external entities – they are functioned within its traits which compose it), I shall give a few possible examples for potentially-autonomous traits, which, of course, exist in various of degrees and qualities among various of people. They are presented here as actions (as one can claim a living being is always in some sort of action):
1) Contemplation. An individual can be contemplative regardless of the environment or space they are in. Whether country, era, or place you are placed in, you can still be contemplative. This is why there are thinkers, mystics, philosophers and the like all around the world, at all given period of time in history. In addition, contemplation is obviously an internal action, which do not require external projection of any sort, and it can be done independently.
2) Dreaming: There is no living being which does not dream, and this is claimed on an emphasis about the autonomous self. Whether it is day-dreaming or night-dreaming, we all have dreams, which can exist and function without anyone but the individual themselves to be aware of it, or to actively engage in it. One can say it is always fundamentally inner-directed, and if an external eye to simply watch us sleep or day-dreaming (not including exploiting advanced technology, which truly and deeply harms such privacy) it won’t have any idea what we are dreaming about. Of course, it is done autonomously.
3) Bodily Functions: All organisms share some common functions in general, to a certain degree for each individual entity. Metabolism, physical activity, sensuality, ability for reproduction, and even death (or mostly if not entirely, death). Although they are based on something, every organism is in function regardless of environment. Even if an organism dies due to a certain environment, it is still a bodily function that occurs generally. Each one of us have his or her own metabolic rates, heartbeats (or no heartbeats if we’re dead), physical capabilities which can exist without external demonstration – all to a certain degree. It is important to note that I am not discussing about specific bodily functions, but those we have in common in one side, but to a certain degree and merit – on the half. Some of may lack some bodily functions which the general population have in common, such as hearing, listening and the like, but as said those are just specific functions.
The entirety of this article has been written in an attempt to conclude and reveal the following, that a person isn't necessarily or entirely the product of their environment and the socialization they receive, and that there is a sense of self beyond the sphere of society's framework. In other words, interpersonal interactions aren't necessarily the only factor in the determination of how an individual's sense of self would go and evolve. There is still an element out there that is often reduced by those who advocate the dominance of society in our lives and vice versa, and that element is the autonomous self, even if that aspect of ourselves isn't as dominant as socialization and its effects of us are.
In fact, we can even further this argument by claiming that we are more than passive blank slates. We are slates that with methods such as C.B.T can try and channel the influencing stimulation we receive from the External World, AKA, from society, further strengthening the possible fact that we are not completely and passively prone to the authoritarian power of external interaction. Much of it, in fact, depends on us and on our ability to endure, receive and interpret the communication we receive from the outside of ourselves, without letting that communicating dictate everything within us.