March 29, 2013

Society everywhere is in conspiracy

Humans are by nature social animals. As Aristotle, whom Dante described as "the master of those who know," put it in his Politics, "to live alone, one must be either a beast or a god." On the other hand, group dynamics can really bring out the beast and drive away the god.

A lot of human evil and just plain pettiness can be attributed to group behavior, conformity, and obedience. Emerson takes a famous whack at those in Self Reliance.

Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.
(I'm guessing this applies to women too.)


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