Saturday, 16 February 2013

Historical Perspectives on the Individual - Part 2: Comparisons

Not only the rights of the individual change over time but the very concept of individuality depends on the historical, social, economical, political, and cultural context.

Please choose two texts from different times and try to read them as a comment on the concept of the individual. You can either choose fictional or non-fictional texts. Please focus both on differences and on similarities of the two historical perspectives.

Then find two more texts that are from the same two periods and cultures. Do they have exactly the same view on the individual as your first two texts? How would you interpret your discoveries?

Please post your results as comment if you wish - and let us know which texts you have compared.

Thank you,



  1. Do we have any examples of what our contemporary perspectives are? It seems that we can analyse historical perspectives but it would be more valuable to understand contemporary perspectives of people wouldn't it?

  2. Hi Felixa and Suchada,
    I think that you could basically use ANY text that somehow deals with humans - and in particular human emotion or human conditions or human life - could be used as an examples.
    We have talked about at least two contemporary works in this class: the movie _What the Bleep_ and Vasanji's _No New Land._ They both deal with individuals and try to develop a philosophy about the self. It would have been great to use more contemporary texts. However, we were somewhat limited by the predetermined selection of text. The two contemporary texts are actually both NOT in the official New Jersey syllabus. I just added them because I thought we should at least have one text that addresses multiculturalism and one text that is based on more or less contemporary insights of science. The insights are actually older but they haven't really reached mainstream awareness yet....

  3. The historical perspective is important. Even people live at the same time. If they have different historical perspectives, their value may be different. For instance, according to history of Chinese philosophy, Taoism and Legalism appeared at the same period. But their historical perspectives were completely different. Taoism deemed that past is better than present. The old regime is better than the present regime. Therefore, they asserted restoring the ancient regime. However, the legalism deemed that the movement of history is forward. Present is better than the past. Therefore, they asserted reform and innovation.