What is an individual and how do they have any value if there is no God?
Parish system under Alfred the Great
Peterson’s sovereignty of the individual
RL asked this question of a Communist, who paused and then replied – “I am an individual and I am also a member of society” which sums it up; there needs to be a society to be a member of, and a child’s name and place and competence in life establishes their sense of being a unique individual, a somebody.
Under a new value-system, the sovereignty of the individual needs to be established, not as a general assumption but as a specific tenet. The alternative is that an individual is owned by their society and subject to the rules and regulations of that society, however arbitrary. Freedom begins with a recognition of the sanctity of the human individual.
‘Sanctity’ is generally used in a religious context, but we must needs use some religious words both to create and to convey meaning.
From what age or stage of development is a human an individual? From birth? From conception? From attainment of adulthood? There are more difficult questions still to be addressed. This is where the limits and boundaries of our values must be examined. This is where one ‘value’ can contradict another. We need first to establish the fundamental position, but also to look at difficult and extreme cases and extreme situations. At what point must one value become of lesser importance than another?
Difficult questions, but unless we as a society do look and examine and reach some kind of agreed consensus, groups within society with the loudest voices or with the most power will impose their answers on the rest of us - answers that we may not wish to see take control. On, say, the question of abortion – it’s of no use the different sides just screaming and shouting at one another or society will fall apart – somehow or other we must work towards consensus, on this issue and on many others.