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The individual as a force[edit]

Is this section anything more than someone's stream-of-consciousness writing? I tried googling for material on "individual as a force" and the only relevant thing I found was this article. This seems like a case of Wikipedia, like the tide, raising all articles equally however accurate or rubbishy they may be because of the tendency of other sources to blindly copy material from Wikipedia as gospel.

Unless this section is serving some other purpose than a soapbox for someone, e.g. representing some influential philosopher's viewpoint, I suggest deleting the whole section. It's easy to think of counterexamples to this section, e.g. people who go through life stuck in a rut wishing they could change (the exact opposite of the first sentence of the section). If the writer intended "gravity could be the individual that tries to put all mass together" as an argument for viewing the individual as a force then this violates OR. The section goes downhill from there.

Also disturbing is that this questionable material has been allowed to stand unquestioned for so long. Granted not all articles receive equal scrutiny, but this case seems extreme. --Vaughan Pratt 02:56, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree. This article warrants some serious attention. I am also concerned with the statement: " individual tries to remove every factor that he dislikes and tries to add every factor he likes. This behavior can be referred to as moving towards a state of happiness." This assumes several things about happiness which I'm not sure are true or relevant to this article.--Pariah (talk) 02:39, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
The paragraph has been rewritten since Vaughan's comment. It did not make sense anymore after several inavoidable patches.
About the happiness concept. The paragraph assumes nothing about it. It gives a possible definition of happiness. "A state without whatever factor the individual tries to avoid and with whatever factor the individual tries to grasp." The idea of happiness itself is not as important as the idea of the movement towards it.
I think they're the same thing--moving toward happiness implies something about the type of happiness you are trying to move toward. Even the idea of "movement toward" happiness assumes that you have to control reality to achieve it. What if instead happiness is realized by not trying to move toward it or control reality?
The "individual as a force" section in general is unclear, and reads like original research. Also, it seems to be missing alternative viewpoints on the individual; for example the Buddhist concept of anatman, or the fluid individuality of Martin Buber's I and Thou. I'd like to suggest that we rewrite the section, and/or create some new sections with different viewpoints on the individual.--Pariah (talk) 04:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Major revamping of article[edit]

I have reworked the article to include some concrete philosophical viewpoints on the individual. This is by no means a complete or comprehensive list, but it is a beginning. The old section entitled "The Individual as a force towards a goal" has been removed, as it reads like original research. As somebody obviously spent a lot of time on it, I have included at the bottom of the talk page to refer to.--Pariah (talk) 06:41, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

The individual as a force towards a goal[edit]

The following has once been a part of the article. It is not a contribution to a discussion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dan Polansky (talkcontribs) 16:05, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

What is the essence of an individual? First of all we can refer to it with a noun. Secondly it does something or we think it can do something. Doing something means making a change. A person for example could do something by moving his arm.

If we search for examples of individuals then we can not just take any change or group of changes as the appearance of an individual. One would not consider the group of totally unrelated events as the appearance of an individual. But the moment there arises coherence in the actions, the moment we see a common goal, that moment we are willing to see this as the acts of an individual.

Because of the above it seems reasonable to state the following:

The property that all individuals have in common is that they tend to change their world in order to obtain and maintain a specific state.

In an abstract sense, an individual tries to remove every factor that he dislikes and tries to add every factor he likes. This behavior can be referred to as moving towards a state of happiness.

This could be used as a very generic and abstract definition for the concepts "individual" and "happiness". It is so general that with this one can recognize an individual behind every group of more or less coherent changes in the world. For example, gravity could be the individual that tries to put all mass together. Note also that there is allmost no previous knowledge of concepts required, one does not need the know what a human is to know what an individual is.

In everyday life we usually do not want to call every force we detect an individual. But strictly spoken every event could be the act of an individual. This is closely related to Animism: One could explain all unexplained events as the acts of imaginary individuals.

This idea is what most people use intuitively when they think about each other. They do not think about each other as complicated organisms consisting of millions of interacting cells. In the first place they got a very basic idea of each other, called "he" or "she", and associate with it what "he" or "she" "wants". We usually use it as a simplification for things we do not understand.

Who finds it nonsense to call a force of nature (the act of) an individual should be aware that a humans individuality is also no more than the result of a very complicated form of chemistry.

In practice everyone we could know of in our world is constrained (restricted). The following tries to proof that. If there was one entity almighty then the world would already be in a for him desirable state, his state of happiness. If he had to do any effort to keep it that way then he would not be almighty, because then he would be constrained to do something. So we got satisfied undetectable individuals and the individuals we know of: those are all bound to rules.

Those constraints mean that an individual can not from his current state of his world go towards whatever other state he could wish for. So in order to reach happiness he needs to find and follow a path of actions that brings him from state to state and eventually to one that makes him happy.

In our world the individual from a human needs his body. All his ways towards happiness probably assume a reasonable health. His body is not the only material thing he needs. He needs to maintain that body, clothing, food. Utilities. He wants certainty that he can maintain it in the future: money, housing. And many people somehow find out that having gadgets is also a requirement for being happy. He also needs knowledge, he needs to know what he is doing. A humans mind is the place where the human individual acts in the first place by merely thinking.

An individuals next action will be the product of his desires, his capacities and his achieved current state in the world. That state includes but does not limit to whatever is in his mind and whatever he possesses.

An individual does not strictly need possession, as long as it is not essential for his happiness. The concept of law is also merely an idea that individuals try to follow in order to be able to coexist.


Individual is etemologically made up of the prefix in- meaning not, the root word divi- meaning to divide or separate and the base word -dual meaning two. The complete meaning of the word is an undivided duality and it refers to both our logical/thinking mind and our feeling/emotional mind. It further has implications for the partition of our functional minds into conscious and unconscious portions. (talk) 21:51, 18 May 2009 (UTC)


Un individuo es una persona o un objeto específico. La individualidad (o personalidad) es el estado o cualidad de ser un individuo, una persona separada de las demás personas y que posee sus propias necesidades o metas. Ser auto expresivo, independiente. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:35, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

Legal definitions[edit]

The first paragraph recently read "An individual is a natural person firstly, also possibly a person or a specific object. Individuality (or selfhood) is the state or quality of being an individual; a individual separate from other individuals and possessing his or her own needs or goals." This is clearly intended to emphasize legal definitions, and I have a problem with that since biology also needs to define the term, in other words, "firstly" places too much emphasis on the legal aspects. Besides that, a quick web search shows statements that under the Canadian Income Tax Act, there is a re-definition of an individual as an artificial person (approximately, a corporation), so trying to give supremacy to legal technicalities doesn't work well here. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 20:54, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

I would like to suggest that this page should have a section about legal definitions of the individual where these details can be placed, so that the lead section can be trimmed to a neat summary of the overall subject of the page. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:24, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
I've edited to suggest a compromise. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:31, 6 May 2013 (UTC)


I could not see how Sminthopsis84's edit improved what went before it. I agree that the term "individual" as used in respect of a company needs to be differentiated from its natural application but when I then considered the issue further I could not find anything in the article of any note. Briefly, for instance:

  • The differentiation between companies and people at law, concerns the rights and responsibilities accorded to each in order to further politico-economic ends, rather than for any nobler philosophicl endeavour. This could be dealt with through the disambiguation page to refer a reader to the relevant article.
  • The section regarding biology is noteworthy only in so far as it relates to the definition of an organism, not in or of itself. Again this is something for a disambiguation page.
  • The sections on philosophy concern philosophical matters related to the individual, eg its initial condition etc rather than to anything specific. If such links are valid it is hard to see anything that could not be included eg the nature of different organisms, trees, bacteria, of symbiosis eg lichens or birth defects such as Siamese Twins, or cloning, psychological issues, asexual reproduction, the nature of existence, the boundary states of existence, individuation in inanimate objects, legal definitions around the world, etc.
  • The other matters alluded to in the artcle concern the use of the word. They are in effect informal attempts at dictionary definitions rather than anything encycopedic in my opinion.

I recommend deletion. ----LookingGlass (talk) 06:47, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Deletion discussions belong at WP:AFD. - (talk) 19:30, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Please sign in. Deletion exchanges may happen anywhere. If there is general agreement by those interested in this article I would then put the request on that page. However, I find an unsigned opinion on process incosequential. LookingGlass (talk) 06:47, 15 May 2013 (UTC)