America believes in individualism-but what is individualism? This question leads into unexpected areas of life and thought. It touches upon almost every intellectual discipline concerned with human life. Any answer, to be taken seriously, must recognize this complexity. A broad understanding of the meaning of individualism can be reached only through the insight of many workers in many different fields. This volume brings together seven of the United States' most distinguished scholars, representing the fields of anthropology, ecomics, government, history, literature, and philosophy. The trend of their thinking can be suggested by a few excerpts from their essays: * An individual divorced from a cultural milieu would t be a human being; he would be a mere hominid. -Leslie A. White * The trouble is that 'individual' is a stop-thought word. It numbs the mind, so that once it has been uttered, inquiry stops. -Clarence E. Ayres * Not even an individual's perfections are his alone; like his imperfections, they are group-made. - Paul A. Samuelson * The twentieth century has witnessed the emergence of a new kind of American individualism, the individualism of nconformity, which actually challenges the compulsive democracy of the Lockean individualism by which the nation has centrally and historically lived. -Louis Hartz * The individualism of the American frontier was an individualism of personal self-reliance and of hardihood and stamina rather than an individualism of intellectual independence and personal self-expression. -David M. Potter * The present conditions in which the self must be preserved are radically different from those of a generation, even a decade ago...The dogmatics of present self-assertion are defined and pursued in an existential circumstance. -Frederick J. Hoffman * Individuality means creativity, and 'laws of creativity,' other than statistical ones, are, I hold, a contradiction in terms. -Charles Hartshorne
Gordon H. Mills (1914-1978) was Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.