Nowożytne i współczesne spojrzenie na indywidualizm – przegląd wybranych koncepcji

The problem of individualism, egoism and social relations is often considered the core of modern ethical and social theories. The article presents how the concept of individualism is understood in chosen perspectives of modern and contemporary social philosophy. Due to its complexity, this notion is approached as a methodological, ethical and social notion. Numerous possibilities of looking at individualism cause problems with defining the concept itself. This issue is connected to the concepts of egoism and social activity of an individual, on which the theories of a democratic state and liberal economy are based. that an individual takes priority over society. However, such a conviction is connected to substantial assumptions concerning the nature of man and society. In its roots, as the authors mentioned in this article believe, theories of enlightenment are to be found. The article shows how individualism was perceived in the theories of Enlightenment (Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville). It also presents a contemporary perspective – basing mostly on the concepts of Friedrich August von Hayek and Charles Taylor – not only marking the place of individualism in their theories, but also placing them in relation to the discussed theories of Enlightenment. At the same time it is indicated how strictly individualism is connected to egoism, although they cannot be considered equal. Further, the paper discusses the consequences of a specific understanding of individualism for social theory. One may consider either its contributing to the development of societies – by enlarging autonomy and personal freedom, or the danger of relativism and deterioration of social bonds.
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