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美国个人主义的探讨A Study on American Individualism [5]

论文作者:英语论文论文属性:职称论文 Scholarship Papers登出时间:2012-03-15编辑:lena ding点击率:17308

论文字数:6332论文编号:org201203151330483806语种:英语论文 English地区:美国价格:免费论文

关键词:American Individualismpoliticseconomicssociety


amily, church-state relations, personal morality, free speech, constitutional law, privacy, productive labor, and consumption.
In retrospect, however, it is hard not to see those earlier perspectives as fatally fragile. Certainly by the middle of the nineteenth century, figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman—romantic American nationalists and prophets of the unconstrained self—were already trumpeting the note that would have the most lasting resonance in the American imagination. It was Emerson who declared famously that a society is a "conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members," and that "nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." And it was Whitman who declared that "the Great Idea" is "the idea of perfect and free individuals," and that "nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's-self is." One could hardly deny that such driving, self-interested ambition was itself a logical corollary to the spirit of unrestrained self-development, although both men would live long enough to be disappointed in the crass materialism that seemed to take hold of American society in the post–Civil War years. So, too, there is the irresistible story of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the semi-noble, semi-savage boy who lit out for the territory rather than enduring the phony rigors of civilization. Indeed, one sure index of the hold that individualism has had on American thought and expression is the culture's richness in figures of heroic individuality—and its relative poverty in providing convincing representations of community or social obligation.
There have always been a few important countercurrents, however, to this pervasive celebration of individuality. One such current emerged from women writers, both inside and outside the nascent feminist movement. Individualism being a game still reserved largely for males, the fiction and "domestic economy" literature produced by such nineteenth-century writers as the sisters Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe often had a very different tone, emphasizing the satisfactions of settlement, family life, nurture, and human connectedness—all the things that Henry David Thoreau and Huck Finn sought to escape. Such arguments were carried to a high pitch by the southern anti-suffragist Louisa McCord, who urged women to stand at a critical distance from the coarse individualism of the male public world. To be sure, the works of northern feminists such as Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were nothing if not individualistic in tone, testifying to the fact that some women were eager to get in on the game. Various forms of that same tension between equality and difference have persisted into the twenty-first century and continue to color our discussions of individualism and gender.
The immense human suffering and social dislocation wrought by industrialization was another stimulus to anti-individualistic thinking. One can see some elements of this critique emerging idiosyncratically in the antebellum years—for example, in the fascinating career of the anti-capitalist Catholic convert Orestes Brownson, who railed against individualism for destroying the grounds of human solidarity; or in the works of pro-slavery apologist George Fitzhugh, who presented slavery as an organic and patriarchal institution, far preferable to the inhumane and predatory institution of "wage slavery." But the best example could be found in one of the most widely read论文英语论文网提供整理,提供论文代写英语论文代写代写论文代写英语论文代写留学生论文代写英文论文留学生论文代写相关核心关键词搜索。
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