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Pitfall of Excessive Individual Thinking

Terese

Mangalam Pundarikakshah
Staff member
Premium Member

The video's subject matter discusses the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.

This self-interested behaviour dooms us to live a life ruled by our own needs and wants, and not what is best for the collective whole. Excessive individual thinking creates a dog-eat dog world, and excessive communal thinking denies individual freedom. What do you think is the middle ground between these two extremes? What would be good both for the population and the individual? Or do you think one or both extremes are what's good for everyone?
 

Sunstone

De Diablo Del Fora
Premium Member
The conflict between the needs of society and the needs of the individual is one of the two or three most ancient themes in human history. It has never, to my knowledge, been completely resolved -- and if it has, it was probably within the context of some hunting/gathering group.

Ever since the rise of complex, hierarchical civilizations, the tendency has been to favor the needs of society over the needs of the individual for the vast majority of people. Only the elites on top have for the most part enjoyed a more balanced social order.

To me, individuals need enough freedom to be true to themselves in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
 

Shadow Wolf

Certified People sTabber
I've never been sold on this idea of the Tragedy of the Commons, because private property does not prevent such abuses and because the examples given for people's "self-interests" are scenarios that will lead to problems with others in the community (such as a shepherd allowing a flock to over-graze a pasture inevitably being faced with confrontation). It tends to ignore the fact we are not living in vacuums of isolation and the consequences of our actions can be detrimental to ourselves if we aren't considerate of others. People aren't perfect saints, but people aren't stupid, either. They know who takes more than their fair share, and they tend to not appreciate it. As we've seen, going from commons to private does not prevent abuse and destruction of the environment, but rather grants it as a privilege to those who have the money to afford it (such as rain forest destruction in the name of economic "development"). It's also generated tons of waste, waste that wouldn't have happened if our society wasn't so heavily based on consuming (such as, American food portions are more than what is necessary, unhealthily large, and half of the food produced is wasted).
As a species that has evolved to survive as a part of a group, our needs must consider mutual cooperation. Individuals can have freedoms, but a community must eat and be sheltered. Ultimately, freedoms do not come from markets, but rather from states who will allow and tolerate certain behaviors of its citizens.
Generally speaking, the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few. But we have become so bombarded with being serialized, numbered, documented, and turned into an individual that is categorized as a separate unit that we've become easier to control because communal bonds are broken, and "strength in numbers" is not as apparent because we are left in a position that puts the spotlight on us as an individual and examines us as one and not as many. Paint over this problem with the "status symbols" of private property, and we no longer are thinking about promoting us as a group but rather "I" as an individual who is graded and judged not by our contributions towards society but by excessive, gluttonous, and destructive amount of property we own.
Ultimately, individualism and collective concerns do need balanced and a system of checks and balances. But this "crisis of the commons" is really nothing more than an excuse to give cause to balance it on the backs of the poor.
 

SalixIncendium

अहं ब्रह्मास्मि
Staff member
Premium Member
To me, individuals need enough freedom to be true to themselves in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

It is evident that there are many interpretations on what is environmentally responsible. Who should be the moral authority on this?
 

It Aint Necessarily So

Veteran Member
Premium Member
This self-interested behaviour dooms us to live a life ruled by our own needs and wants, and not what is best for the collective whole. Excessive individual thinking creates a dog-eat dog world, and excessive communal thinking denies individual freedom. What do you think is the middle ground between these two extremes? What would be good both for the population and the individual? Or do you think one or both extremes are what's good for everyone?

Enlightened self-interest means realizing that we each do better when we all do better.

I advocate for maximal freedom, autonomy, and sovereignty in the life of the individual..

But not to parasitize society. To be of service. To make one's small corner of the world a better place.

I believe that the combination of freedom and a healthy culture that successfully promotes communal values to its citizens can approximate this. Laws probably cannot. Laws are for dealing with the parasites - the anti-social people who can't own or control enough, and have no ethical inhibitions.
 

Stevicus

Veteran Member
Staff member
Premium Member

The video's subject matter discusses the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.

This self-interested behaviour dooms us to live a life ruled by our own needs and wants, and not what is best for the collective whole. Excessive individual thinking creates a dog-eat dog world, and excessive communal thinking denies individual freedom. What do you think is the middle ground between these two extremes? What would be good both for the population and the individual? Or do you think one or both extremes are what's good for everyone?

Some form of population control might be a good start.

The trouble with individualism is that it assumes that each individual in a society cares about that society and will act at a level of equal responsibility. At one time, people might have asked "Why do we need a king or a lord to tell us what is right and wrong? We're thinking individuals, just as smart as they are, and we can figure it out for ourselves."

But the assumption in the video is that humans, when given individual freedom and left to their own devices, are somehow incapable of governing and restraining themselves.

In the fishing example, the village mayor or king could simply proclaim "No one catches more than 1 fish per day. Anyone who does so will be tarred and feathered." But the same assumption carries the implication that only certain "special" individuals can make those proclamations, since the average "peasant" is incapable of understanding or restraining their own behavior.

That's how human societies have mostly been run for thousands of years, based on the notion that only certain enlightened individuals have the talent and intelligence to rule, while the rest of society is a bunch of ignorant peasants who have to be controlled and treated like cattle. The old "carrot and stick."

But over time, it turned out that some of those enlightened individuals really were enlightened and started to challenge the old order. The ideals of equality, liberty, individual freedom were formulated and implemented to the point where they're considered absolutely essential today. "Give me liberty or give me death!"

Among other things, I see the concept of "equality" as meaning that no one is actually "born to rule" or has any "divine right." Individualism is about being judged by one's own individual merit and ability, not because of what family one is born into (or race, ethnic group, or even gender). In our own society and culture, this has meant cutthroat competition and a dog-eat-dog world, as you mention. Every individual wants to win, although there is also some reward for being on a winning team (even you're not one of the star players). Teamwork is also considered important

But the video ended on a somewhat hopeful note in that not all is lost yet. Humans can learn to behave more responsibly and with consideration for the future. In addition to population control, we might consider putting our resources and energies towards more efficient and environmentally-friendly transportation systems. We have a love of automobiles, and the automobile is often regarded as a symbol of individual freedom, since people can get in their cars and drive wherever they want. But when everyone wants to do that, using the same limited amount of road space (and parking places), then it becomes quite a mess. I guess that's another kind of "tragedy of the commons," since everyone wants to use the roads which get congested, so we need more roads, more parking garages.

A lot of it is also caused by people moving to outlying areas where they commute to the city in the only way available to them, which causes more traffic jams. The same people moving out to the country to "get away from it all" bring it "all" with them. It's a vicious cycle that will eventually reach an unpleasant demise.

Some communities have outlawed plastic grocery bags. I guess they figure we might as well do something, since we're all probably screwed anyway.
 

David T

Well-Known Member
Premium Member

The video's subject matter discusses the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.

This self-interested behaviour dooms us to live a life ruled by our own needs and wants, and not what is best for the collective whole. Excessive individual thinking creates a dog-eat dog world, and excessive communal thinking denies individual freedom. What do you think is the middle ground between these two extremes? What would be good both for the population and the individual? Or do you think one or both extremes are what's good for everyone?
Well put...

Terese, I am not so certain that the answer arrives before a huge amount of pain is experienced. It's like watching the ground grow closer as the plane is dropping and some note, looking out the window have calculated that it is a problem but others don't see the change as problematic at all. As we get closer to the ground traveling at 500 mph at 30,000 feet changes perceptually, when we we get to say 100' above the ground. Then Everyone will panic. I wonder what a world experience would be like with nearly 8 billion people in total panic would be like? Will the plane completely disintegrate with all killed? Will it crash land hard with most killed? will it make a fantastic belly flop landing with just a few killed many injured? Predicting that is extremely hard.

In the bible there is a statement you reap what you sow. That generally is understood only in the individuals life. It's an evolutionary statement, but because we believe culturally we understand evolution it's not understood. In Evolutionary terms properly understood you cannot separate the catipillar from the butterfly. Therefore to understand eve humans thought you cannot separate what you sow, from what you reap across multiple generations. That's the proper way of understanding that passage. So we have the enlightenment manifesting into the landscape. I know the enlightenment is nonsense, it manifested from my degree theology. Since that is nonsense, it manifested the nonsense of the enlightenment, and today we are reaping what WE sowed not THEY sowed. Simple as that. Anima mundi a something we clearly do not understand.

Through all things by all things of all things. That's an evolutionary statement correctly understanding evolution including all actions, thoughts, ideas, believe, fact, and fiction, life and death!!! All one movement at the same time, Kairos its in nature itself nearly impossible to see today, too much noise.

Hate to be obtuse, but I am not really, only in context to modern nonsense reasoning.
 
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