What Is The Individual?
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
One highway of answer is as follows:
The world in which we live exists as (a) object a system of objects; (b) as action a complex of activities. Things are, because of action.
The world and every object and action are ex-pressions of ideas. Classification is based on this fact. Thus, the Universe is analyzed as Material and Non-material, Inorganic and Organic or Living, Animal and Mineral, Physical Life and Psychic Life, Beast and Human, Male and Female, and so on. In the ascending process of analysis we always find some phase of reality appearing in the next higher order of being which is absent in all lower orders. Evolution is a process of differentiation by specialization climaxing finally in the highest possibility (so far as we know) of every kind of object.
In man, the highest possibility, psycho-mentality, climaxes in moral relations.
The broadest human idea, moral psycho-mentality, presents infinite variations. Each man and woman expresses the idea a human, which carries with it body-idea, mind-idea, self-idea, the idea of moral completeness in the self.
The body-idea varies for the reason that it is a complex idea, and what any particular body ought to be is determined by the arrangement of the component ideas involved in parts and functions, together with some predominant idea which modifies all these associate ideas.
The mind-idea varies, for, while all minds are of one general nature, the mind in each instance is a compound of certain ways the self has of being and doing, and the arrangement of the mental factors varies and is modified by some particular factor.
The self varies because every self is an unique combination of personalities and within each exists some one specific idea which differentiates the possessor or manifester from every other human being living or dead or yet to exist.
The body, the mind, the self, is each a compound of ideas, and in each case the arrangement of the component factors is itself an idea. But this last idea is determined by a final all-modifying and climaxing idea as well, determining individuality.
Individuality is the practical and growing realization of the highest idea-thought plan purpose possibility of which the unitary person is capable.
Precisely what this sovereign idea is, none of us can affirm, either for ourselves or for others. Nevertheless, it is the supreme privilege of each to realize in actual life this ideal goal the idea of the complete self sufficiently, at least, to make the individual a vast improvement on anything yet known. This privilege is so universal, so august, and so important that itself suggests the supremest obligation conceivable. We are here to make the most of the self. To make the most of the self is to assist the Universe in its struggle toward perfection. A perfected Universe is nothing more than all its individual intelligences brought to a state of perfection.
The highest law of life is self-assertion and altruism so universally balanced that with all men the law may be justified.
Reverting, now, to the proposition that the world exists as object and action, let us observe certain conclusions: