What is Individualism (Individualism) and What Does It Mean?

What is Individualism (Individualism) and What Does It Mean?

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

It is possible to answer the question of what is individualism or what is individualism as follows: Individualism is the name of the doctrine that believes in the central importance of individuals, not social groups and collectivities. According to this doctrine, the interests of individuals are believed to be morally superior to the interests of collectivities.

The individual theoretically gained its existence before society. Therefore, the rights of the individual also precede society. Here, human is seen as the source of value and the creator of the value judgment system. Man is placed at the center of moral values.

Political and social philosophy that places great emphasis on the freedom of the individual and generally emphasizes the self-directed, self-directed individual or the self is called individualism or individualism. The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, who used this term for the first time, defined individualism as a measured egoism that predicts one’s own family and friends only.


Individualism is the tendency to evaluate the individual as a social being who collects his own goals. This tendency gives priority to the individual over the social and sees the individual as the only determinant. Thus, the individual element, which is determined as the most perfect form of reality and the highest human value, becomes the indispensable criterion of social life.

Individualism has emerged as the basic world view of the liberal bourgeois ideal against the integrative absolute rule in European history. Thus, individualism, which is identified with the concept of libertarianism to some extent, determines the private life of the person as a value that should be strictly protected, evaluates the social life, which it regards as a value against him, as a force that hinders the individual to a large extent, and accordingly, it contrasts with the socialist world view.

According to the individualist point of view, the more the social order conditions the life of the individual, the more the individual will lose his own reality. This view has been the main view of liberal political wings in liberal western democracies, first of all, it defends free entrepreneurship against the understanding of statism, which has decisive features in economic life. However, this demand for freedom never gives a person the right to do whatever they want in society.

With the development of the individualist point of view, thinkers have taken freedom as the primary subject: the view that one’s freedom is not freedom as long as it endangers the freedom of another was thus developed.

Individualism is a worldview that emerged in the Renaissance as a reaction to the Christian worldview that encompassed the entire Middle Ages. In fact, its history is much older. This very old tendency, which favors the individual, who is empowered by private property and distinguished in the society, was formed in the Renaissance and became active in various fields from metaphysics to economics as a world view.

From a metaphysical point of view, individualism substitutes the individual for the chief truth of the deity. The reason of the individual connects it to the universality in its individuality. That is, the individual is the entity that combines the universal from the individual in a single structure. Therefore, it should be considered as the main truth and all institutions, especially the religious institution, should be arranged in accordance with its interests.

Individualism means a theory of human nature, a general pattern of behavior, and a belief in particular political, economic, social, and religious arrangements, as well as a system of values. The value system of individualism can be explained by three propositions:

All values ​​are anthropocentric: even if they are not created by humans, they are lived by them.
The individual is an end and a supreme value in itself, society is only a means to the ends of the individual.
All individuals are, in a sense, morally equal. No one can ever be seen solely as a tool for the good of another individual.

According to the theory of individualism on human nature, the best way to protect the interests of a normal and adult person is to introduce the individual the greatest freedom and responsibility to choose his own goals and the means to achieve these goals, and to act in that direction. This view stems from the belief that the individual knows his/her own interests best and can find out how he/she can develop these interests when given the opportunity of education. In addition, it is assumed that the individual’s making these choices will contribute to both his development and social welfare, because individualism is the most effective way to encourage productive effort, from this point of view, society is the sum of self-sufficient individuals.

As a general behavior, individualism places great emphasis on self-confidence, privacy, and respect for others. It opposes authority and any control over the individual, especially by the state. It also believes in “progress”, and as a means of progress it recognizes the right of the individual to be different, to compete with others, and to be ahead (or lagging behind) others. The institutional consequences of individualism are also based on these principles. Only the most extreme individualists are pro-anarchy. But all if the state interferes with the least in the lives of individuals.