Carnegie and individualism [was Re: NEWS/FWD: Free Cyber-University]

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Mar 18 2000 - 05:27:38 MST

On Fri, 17 Mar 2000, Robert Wasley wrote:

> Regarding libraries, yes, Carnegie and many more regular people have
> donated time, money, and materials for the support of the library system,

There is a good PBS program about Carnegie, the steel industry and all of
the public works he did. It isn't clear whether he was compensating for
guilt he may have felt at taking advantage of his workers (strike breaking,
etc.) or whether he wanted to promote education & learning (since
his empire was based to a large degree on technology and innovation)
or whether he simply a generous individual who wanted to return
some of what he had acquired.

> What history says to me that individualistic or collectivistic societies and
> philosophies are premised on distorted perspectives of who and what
> human beings are. We are both social (collective) and individual so our
> societies need to reflect a similar balance which is no mean trick and not
> always successful, but it is none the less the most correct approch.

This does of course raise very *interesting* questions as to whether,
in the future, when humans have much higher inter-individual communication
bandwidths, they will choose to operate more as collectives (e.g. the borg)
and less as rugged individuals.

There is the urban wisdom, that over time, couples grow more and more
alike (due to the shared knowledge base and experiences). It would
be interesting to speculate that being individuals (in fact and
in our acts) is due entirely to the fact that I know something
uniquely different from what you know. If we can know what each
other knows in a relatively short time (i.e. we can transfer your
L1/L2/L3 cache and your long-term memory to my L1/L2/L3 cache
and long term memory) then the entire concept of "individuals"
seems to become very fuzzy.

I cannot help but conclude that in the light of rational thought and
the experiences on which those thoughts are based, we are as one.
Only if you have different experiences or think irrationally can
you be an "individual".


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:05:42 MDT