David Bohm – Implicate Order

The Individual

What we commonly refer to as an individual, is a totality of billions of living entities with an infinite variety of possibilities of behavior. As such, it is these billions-of-self-determining entities, which are the sovereign beings involved in what we refer to as the individual. To be an individual, it is necessary to be acting as an indivisible unity. The establishment of “individuality” has very little to do with physical appearances, or setting up preferences in contrast to our local reality.

As it is, we are completely divisible. We are, at any given moment, moving in a thousand different directions. How can we expect to bring about the good society, when we, in our selves, are deep in conflict? The individual is glorified to such an extent that people compete on the merits of their individual talents and aptitudes. This is inline with the human as machine metaphor put forth by Descartes. Whether the human is seen as remarkable machine or as merely a cog in the machine of industry, the machine metaphor applies equally in capitalist and communist industrial societies. In this model the human’s value to society is measured only in her or his ability to contribute to the accumulation of capital or to the state regulated “commons.” Mechanization’s assumption involves interchangeable parts. Each part separate and equal to others like it, so that it can be discarded and replaced to keep the gears turning. To apply this to humans in society is to imply that those who are not capable of producing are “broken” and must be discarded and replaced.

But change the metaphor, and create the world anew. The individual, as I am proposing, does not give way to Individualism or the setting up of the individual against the world. Rather, it is a self-governing unity of the billions of live beings that form each of us, which is inseparable from the larger system of society, world, and cosmos. In this way, we are a particular subset of the one individual or the unity that is all that there is. With such a concept of individuality we can abandon “survival of the fittest” in favor of total interdependence as the mode for human survival on earth.

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