This chapter surveys the idea and ideal of individualism in American thought. Beginning in the Founding Era, Daniels traces the intellectual trends that supported and critiqued individualism. Focusing on the key moments of debate and contention over individualism and its role in shaping American life and institutions, the chapter argues that an authentic individualism found its place at America’s Founding without a full theoretical justification. Over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, critics of individualism bemoaned its baleful effects and sought to replace Americans’ commitment to it with a defense of collective action. In the middle of the twentieth century, individualism found its most ardent champion and a renewed debate about the term began. Daniels argues that a full understanding of the idea is possible only through this survey of the contours of how individualism has been understood and debated in our history.
- Private Interest
- Individual Freedom
- American Life
- Social Obligation
- American Individualism
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Editors and Affiliations
© 2011 Donelson R. Forsyth and Crystal L. Hoyt
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Daniels, E. (2011). A Brief History of Individualism in American Though. In: Forsyth, D.R., Hoyt, C.L. (eds) For the Greater Good of All. Jepson Studies in Leadership. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230116269_5
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