On the question of the modern concept of individualism--there's no straightforward way to account for it but it really gained momentum in the 18th century, which saw the emergence of liberalism and the political philosophy of libertarianism, and which crystallised in events such as the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. So to an extent, it can be said that this supposed 'malady' of individualism is the price we pay for 'liberty' (as it has been conceived in the West).
In any case, philosophers, social commentators, and cultural critics of the 20th century have noted a marked 'subjective turn' in culture and society (they are referring to Western societies in most instances but in the present age of globalisation this can be extended to many non-Western contexts). As I understand it, there is something promising about this, for this process of 'subjectivization' isn't the same as 'individualism'. The growing interest in 'spirituality over religion' can be seen as a manifestation of this subjectivization process--indeed, the growing interest in the West in contemplative traditions like Buddhism can be seen as a manifestation of this 'subjective turn'. But the challenge, of course, is how this 'inward turn' might reach its fullest potential, for I do believe that it can undercut atomistic individualism.
Last edited by zavk
on Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.