Thursday, February 17, 2011

Moltmann: "An individual is not a person"

From Danielle Shroyer's ( blog:

The individual is not a person

          By Danielle Shroyer
February 7th, 2011 — 10:25am
I realize I’m prone to these kinds of statements about Moltmann, but honestly, the paragraph below is absolutely mind blowingly fantastic. It’s so good, I’m not going to say any further commentary about the content itself, other than encourage you to read it, and think about the vast amount of application it has for our lives and the way we structure them if we want to live into the “social program of the Trinity.”  It is, to use a term I’ve coined for just such a moment, a Moltmann WWF Smackdown.  I have read thousands of pages of philosophy on human identity. None of them describe the problem with modern individualization and the true purpose of human identity and personhood as powerfully as Moltmann does here…in one short paragraph, no less.  Philosophers of the modern and postmodern age, consider yourselves smacked down.

“For the last 200 years Western industrial society (and now modern society in general) has experienced one thrust towards individualization after another. The last of them bears the name ‘postmodern’. The opportunities for choice open to individualized men and women are enormously increased, and anyone who has the means can also take advantage of these opportunities. But this power is paralleled by the growing powerlessness of the individualized people, who can certainly look on at events and the world through the media, but can do nothing to change them. An individual is not a person, but–as the Latin word individuum says–something that in the final analysis is indivisible; it means the same as the Greek word ‘atom.’ As the end-product of divisions, the individual has no relationships, no attributes, no memories and no names. The individual is unutterable. A person, unlike an individual, is a human existence living in the resonant field of his social connections and his history. He has a name, with which he can identify himself. A person is a social being. The modern thrusts toward individualization in society promps the suspicion that a modern individual is the product of that age-old Roman principle of dominance: divide et impera- divide and rule. Individualized people can easily  be dominated by political and economic forces. There is only resistance for the purpose of protecting personal human dignity if people join together in communities and decide their lives socially for themselves.
These few pointers may suffice to show the public relevance of the trinitarian concept of God for the liberation of individualized men and women, and the relevance of the trinitarian experience of community for the development of a new sociality.”
- Experiences in Theology, p.333

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