The One and the Many (Intersubjectivity)

What is this one person protesting?[1]
What is this huge hoard of people protesting?[1]

Taxonomy of individuation (less >> more)
Individual Person
Homogenous indifferently substitutable instance of species or group Instance differentially categorized by functional attribute(s) Singleton valued apart from functionality.
Protester in protest rally. "Food for powder". Sheep in a herd. UPS parcel. Protest rally leader or marshall. Sheep dog. Knife or fork. Owner of sheep farm. Beloved particular person, pet or object qua cherished for its own sake.
18-11-46-503 Bradford McCormick me

I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) obviously am not in the class of the individual who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, nor do I want to be. I do not want tot suffer. But I did once protest as an individual person not as a mamber of a herd. When I graduated from Yale in 1968 I did not attend the graduation ceremony. In my cap and gown costume I stood at one of the gates to the Old Campus where all the 2-legged sheep were going to celebrate, with a little tin can in my hand, collecting donations for Quaker Vietnam War Relief (I got $130 from the persons who did attend the ceremony on their way in). I have walked the walk not just talked the talk, at leaat once.

The one and the many. Transcendental intersubjectivity, and/versus enpirical plurality of living human bodies metaphysically cognized as "subjects"(←a word with several conflicting meanings).


It's really too obvious to have to point it out, isn't it, that the single individual, individuated person in the top photo is having more impact to what I presume matters to him than any of the far manyier persons in the crowd in the bottom photo. He may weight 160 pounds. They weight kilotons. Where's Waldo?

Leaders are objectively like the unknown person in the top photo: they get attention for themselves as indiviuals, for instance The Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. Leaders like to have followers, like the multitude of "people" in the bottom photo. Are YOU satisfied to be a Where's Waldo? Of course you matter: as much as any other of those thousands of warm squirming bodies which, if none of them showed up there would not have been anything for the news reporters to report except tht nobody shoewed up which would have been a pretty big story, wouldn't it?

As a participant in a mass march for some Good Cause, you matter, like infantry troops on the battlefield: as cannon fodder. I recently read that in the battle of Stalingrad, the Rusians were losing 2,400 casuslties every 4 hours, and, in the end, "Russia" won. It's too obvious to point out, isn't it, that "they" didn't, right?

Evolution has been a process of increasing funcionality by increasing individuation: each bee in a beehive accomplishes more than each bacterium in a slime mold. The problem, of course, is that when individuation reached the level of self-reflective human beings, the individual could decide they didn't want to serve the system. "Hell no, I won't go." The inflection point can occur in social conditioning of the child. Skill instruction can make a person be a more productive BEE: A C++ computer programmer can produce morre than an illiterate migrant farmer picking lettuces under the scorching sun in a farm field. But education in the humanities may make a person decide they do not want to BE any kind of BEE, no matter how productive for evolution that BEE would BE.

If evolution was a person, it's response to this would probably be something like: "Damn! Gotta try to fix that problem!" And it just might be possible since, in general, persons do not understand themselves as perspectives on the world but rather as objects in the world, e.g.: A man sacrifices the "himself" object in his experienced living in a war, to protect "his wife and children" objects from the evil enemy (object). He is probably more self-aware than a bee but less so than a phenomenological philosopher: "Transcendental constitution, huh? Never heard of that. Sounds like a big word to me. Gotta get my uniform on to save my wife an kids from the evil enemy. Hope I make it so I can fight again tomorrow...."

Fortunately for evolution, most persons don't yet recognize much and thus they are jus more efunctional than worker bees like the worker bees are more functional than bacteria in the slime mold: Dulce et decorum est pro patriaa mori. Bu ta few "make out": In the Smerican 1776 war, wile many men were diying fo rtheir country or at least half-freezing crossing the Dalaware River, Mr .Ben Franklin wa sserving his country by having sex with aristocratic ldies in Paris to win their country's so=upport for the war. For Mr. Franklin: Dulce et decorum est pro patria copulare. (Sounds good to me.)

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All this can be worked out at a philosophical level: The idividuated person is transcendental intersubjecctivity: In each case, I am everybody. If "you" really think about it, in a conversation it's not always clear whose voice is who's and when you have a new idea, "you" didn't think it up but rather it came to you. That's one answer to solipsism: experinece is pre-personal so both self and other are just parts of it. But the other part is that as things thought about, self and other are very different. ther is onl yone self and potentially zillions of other. Each person in that group in the bottom photo above CAN think, probaly they don't very much: "I am me and all thses other people are just crowding me: I need breathing space and they should make a clerong for me." A Leader individuated individual can look out on his (her, other's) vast sea of followers. That's the more usual argument against solipsism.

Mass institutions reduce the individual to just a particle in a sociopolitical colloidal suspension. I do not matter. It is so hopeless that I try to assert myself by becoming a particls in a mass in the street protesting for or against something or other. 9 million men died in world War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars, so what? I'd care about it if I was one of the leaders: "I prefer scotch but no, I do not not smoke cigars, thank you, waiter."

The level of cultural self formation of the people must be fine tuned: Each person must have much to die for but nothing to live for, or, to be precice: much to live for to die for. Each man must marry and take on responsibility for a wife and chldren. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

The one and the many. As I have suggested elsewhere, instead of mass marches for Good Causes, we need individual examplars doing walking the processional path with social distance:here. Curiously, the North Vietnamese to a certain extent agreed with tins idea: here.

The Boy Schouts


I once said to somebody that the Boy Scouts were like Hitler Youth; the person took aggrieved offense. The Soviet Union had Young Pioneers. The Nazis had Hitler Youth. And the U.S. of A. has Boy Scouts. All train young males to be obedient ("good") citizens, i.e.:, adults who support their country's government's policies right or wrong and even die for them because it's their governments's policies, whatever country they were childreared in: the USSR, the USA or The Third Reich. This is very good if you want good worker bees who live for the hive, which every nation state wants. But it's not good for fostering persons who creatively shape their individual existences in the light of disinterested truth, who reject what is wrong with their own country, while affirming what is right with its adversaries: honest brokers not partisans, cats not dogs.

One detail I find telling nobody seems to notice: Cub Scouts prepping to pledge their loyalty to the big time (the "Boy Scouts") are called: "Webelos" which is supposedly an acronym for We'll Be Loyal Scouts. It's obviously: "We belows" → submission to subordination in a social hierarchy. Boy Scouts make good Americans, like Hitler Youth made good Nazis and Young Pioneers made good Communists: whichever country you were born in is the one you believe in. Heil Hitler!I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands....


My parents had me in the Cub Scouts for a while; it made no sense to me. I did not like wearing a uniform or being an instance. I did not yet know about "The man without qualities" but I instinctively was one. It was reassuring that the person I had offended by likening Boy Scouts to Hitler Youth was offended because he was one of the people, not one person.

+2024.02.16 v123
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  1. Nearly 200,000 protesters participate in 'March of the Million' in support of judicial reform
    Brad McCormick
    Apr 28, 2023
    Mass protest in favor of Mr. Netanyahu's judicial "reform"? Haven't there been mass protests gainst them too? Truth, justice and all other wotrhy things in this world are not popularity contests. In Christianity there is a famous dictum: "Athanasius contra mundi" One man against the opinion of the whole world. Was he right or was he wrong? He was not jist a face in a crowd. Or consider the famous picture from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China. It's not the masses protesting. It is one man standing in front of the tanks. I am not judging here which side is right but I am saying: each person has a choice berween being a 2-legged herd animal who matters arithmetically as 1 divided by the numgber of animals in the herd, or being an individual who uniquely exists (for better of for worse). I live in USA. In a mass protest I might count as 1 divided by 200,000 which is effectively zero. I find that thought discouraging. I'd rather write an individual comment here on I24 News than participate in a mass rally (also, I can't catch Covid-19 or another infectious disease here but I can there).
Unfortunate for themself, the person who lacks one; unfortunate for others, the person that is one. Don't be an a**hole!
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