The Influence Of Individualism By Bellah

Decent Essays
Bellah notes that American cultural tradition values personality, success, freedom, and achievement in ways that leave the individual in isolation and ultimately, it confuses our own personal preferences. This stems from preferences and desires changing and a lack of a moral framework provided from a biblical connection and civic republicanism. Like Levin, Bellah also discusses the concept of nostalgia as it relates to the Golden age of American life. Individualism makes individuals reliant on past nostalgia of the good life and ultimately more concerned about their own private investments, rather than the public good. This leads communities into becoming classist, provincial, and exclusionary. Also, Americans want love and independence…show more content…
Utilitarian individualism has roots in calculating the pursuit of one’s own material, entrepreneurial interests. This is associated with Benjamin Franklin’s virtues of becoming industrious, respectable citizens. Expressive individualism implies celebrating, “myself.” In its truest form, it implies fulfilling our inner, artistic selves, but it offers no deepened expression of human feeling and serving others. Tocqueville spoke of habits of the heart, mores that shape American’s moral and intellectual practices but he mainly addressed the perverse ramifications of utilitarian individualism. The immersion in economic pursuits and inward, private isolation undermines civic virtue creating managerial and therapeutic lifestyle enclaves. Industrialization of the economy exacerbated these individualistic tendencies. Bureaucratic organization and the managerial, entrepreneurial spirit conflicted interpersonal relationships, creating public and private spheres. The therapeutic nature of individualism largely internalizes personal satisfaction. The industrial society is taken for granted and the individual advances a preference for lifestyles that constitute the good life and consumer capitalism. These divided individualistic, self-reliant spheres in society establish a morality that is ambiguous, where being good becomes a matter of being good at things, and it undercuts public (community) and private (home, intimacy, love) life (Bellah,
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