Individualism is Important.

Science is an interesting concept. It tries to put a label on everything and to make the unknown features of human existence universal by applying it to a formula or equation. It looks for trends, predictability, repetition. It attempts to organize everything that we are onto neat exponential, linear, or quadratic curves. Outliers are whisked away in the name of probability. Individual numbers are pounded into a single figure because of statistics. We never think of ourselves as that data point that has strayed far from the line of best fit, but what if that is you?

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Science strives to assign everything with a purpose, a meaning, a reason. That perfect autumn evening  when you sat outside on your porch drinking hot chamomile tea and watching the sun set? Did the moment feel sacred? Well, that inevitably happens every year and every day, at this specific time and temperature. Where you happy then? Good for you, but that is the brain’s natural reaction to that type of sensory information in association a specific set of memories and with an evaluation of the physical state of your body, and it releases a certain chemical that allows you to feel that way. What about your first born child? Did you feel like the luckiest parent on earth when he or she was born? To the world of science, your precious child, your everything, is nothing more than a statistic. Science does not care about the gentle blue color of your baby’s eyes, or the tender way in which he held onto your finger. It only wants the weight, hours in labor, health complications, if any. What about that sadness that sometimes settles in your heart, that feeling that you are alone in the world and that no one understands you? Well, science can probably name multiple reasons, from your socioeconomic status to a small sodium deficiency.

In other words, science can explain a lot about the humans, but can it explain you? The one-in-a-kind you? The you, with all your quirky little likes and dislikes? The you that swears off pineapple on pizza but is part of the cilantro lovers club on Facebook? The superstitious you that refuses to step on the cracks on the sidewalk or walk under a ladder? The you that likes to talk about the weather with your dog or chat about the current health of the economy with you cat? It’s one thing to know science and another thing to believe in it. Because we don’t think about our emotions as chemical reactions or our children as statistics. The human consciousness, and the strong sense of self that we possess tells us that we are both unique and important. We can’t discount that feeling. We’re the ones that turn sensory information into memories, nerve impulses into feelings, responses into encounters, deficiencies into desires. We decide who we are, not science.

So if science says that objective reality exists, you can keep on believing in your own subjective one. If science claims that time is a universal measurement you can keep on giving your own value to the minute. If science tells you that you don’t have free will, you can still feel and believe that you do. If science will soon tell you that the soul does not exist, that everything about your life is just a physical process, nothing about who you are as a person would change. Science knows a lot about the human body, but how much does it really know about you?

You know that big old question? Are we greater than the some of our parts? I don’t know the answer, but what if science finally answers this question? The discovery of a few cells or biological processes might change what you know, but would it really change what you believe and what you are? We are not computers, always ready to change our programming whenever new information comes around. We are not only chemical and biological systems, we are also people. We are not machines, we are individuals.

23 thoughts on “Individualism is Important.

  1. I think you’re a bit hard on science here, but I’ll be the first to say your post is thought-provoking – which of course, is the name of the game in blogging for folks like you and me who are not trying to sell anything.

    I think your central point that we should not allow science to deprive us of our sense of individuality is a good one, though. But as I see it, science plays takes a back seat in doing that to a handful of other factors, such as societal pressures to conform, our parents and teachers (all too often), our religions, our employers, and so forth.

    I think it’s very healthy to be concerned with these issues. Bonnie Ware, and Australian nurse, wrote a book about her experiences with people — she tended folks in the last few weeks of their lives. She reported that the most frequent regret of the dying was they had not been true enough to themselves. That made a huge impression on me.

    Even if I’m like everyone else, I’ve always thought it would still be important to be true to myself.

    Thank you for another good post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess you may be right. If we are talking about individualism as a whole, no one ever thinks about science as something that pressures one to conform; I admit that my title may be a bit too deceiving. I’ve never been good in summing up a main point in just a couple of words.

      What does it really mean to be true to oneself? Does it mean to be the person you genuinely want to be? Or could it just be a mindset? Having your own mindset will in no way make you like everyone else. For example, besides being tall, I am the most unsuspecting, boring, and average looking person, but I’d like to think that people would be surprised if they knew what was going on inside my head.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kat, there are lot of different ideas about what it means to be true to your self — about what your self is. I prefer to think of myself as mainly my talents and skills, especially my talents — those stay with you your whole life, you see.

        I cannot imagine you being boring — at least not from the moment you open your mouth. It’s not just your brains, it’s your kindness and basic decency as a human that impress me too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well thank you so much, I’ve never gotten a compliment quite like this before. I try not to be a boring person, but I’m afraid that the majority of people I know find a lot of what I talk about (especially the philosophical stuff) very uninteresting. Well, at least I’m being myself.

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  2. Its true we are not machines, and we don’t change so fast or evolve at the speed of scientific discovery, and yet each generation accepts more new data than the last, kids today act quite differently and are more “evolved” than my generation – when I was young we were like morons compared to todays crop! I find that quite refreshing to see! 🙂

    I’m pushing the envelope a bit there, but really, education has improved and so has cultural norms – I was 16 in 1980, things were very different – good article tho as ever! Lots of truth there!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wouldn’t say that the new generation is more “evolved”. I just think that, since it is much easier for children to accept new ideas, they are the first to embrace new social, political, scientific norms, they’re the “progressives” for the most part. I do agree that education had improved based on the depth of the material taught, as seen in the increasing difficulty of standardized tests, but I do also think that it is becoming very biased- a shift from learning how to think to learning what to think. That’s what I’ve noticed, at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure you’re right – there’s a very worrying trend where education is losing its moral high ground in the battle to pit nations against each other – all the governments think about is financial growth – very dull !!

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      2. I agree with you Kat, about children being the progressives. I recall Thomas Kuhn’s remark in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” that, contrary to myth, the old guard does not so much accept a compelling new theory as they simply die off and are replaced by their graduate students.

        As for the state of education today, that confuses me. I mean, I’m not sure what’s really going on. In some ways, my nephews are getting a poorer education than I had, and in other ways a much better one.

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  3. Why is every individual different….what if we are super biotec machines, with a self learning, living format to evolve the way we do today…with a complex inbuilt immune system.. a self correcting mechanism that learns as we age… to paralyse programmes that make us cry, laugh , feel … ask questions etc…develop a unique conscious state?

    Be that individual? we wish to be… see others by our instincts.
    Lol nothing becomes important… until we loose some function we assumed was rightfully ours to….being humans.
    Think and you will see all the puzzles fall in place and there is no better way but to apply your mind as you age …. to see and capture every day a new truth as and when it unfolds for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We, maybe we are biotech machines, but is that really how you want to see yourself as? A robot instead of a complex and unique individual with genuine and personal feelings, emotions, and thoughts? As I said in my post, you are what you believe, not what you know. Science may analyze human behavior and processes to the pure atoms and chemical reactions that underly us, but is that really how you want to see your self as? Humanity would loose all its mystery and magic that way. I really like what you said at the end. Every day is a new truth, a new adventure, a unique experience that science cannot define. You create your own purpose, not science.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We all know death is inevitable…. and one has no control over ones birth…most would prefer to me immortal…and our personal feelings, emotions and thoughts… give rise to attachments….it is not how you wish to see your self …. but how you cope with your life under a scenario over which you have no control…and with new technology….the more vistas it opens ….you open unknown territories…only to increase more and more mysteries and maybe more scope for magic… idk; lol there would be more adventure than one can’t bite… and forced from systems humans develop in future.
        Today science is at a nascent stage and may not have answers to define unique experiences … but can one create ones own purpose to live beyond death?
        A purpose to live for ever….can anything, humans, earth or the universe stand against time to be immortal?
        We all want freedom, those biochemical reactions to function in our body to create illusions give us a purpose where
        Science has no answers… so the main question who are humans and what was the purpose of having matter, energy and time… when we have that limited imagine of a fluid nothing?
        Logic says do what you think is right…and enjoy life as it comes to you …and evolve with a freedom that becomes manifested in you….. till you die and leave that purpose to an unknown evolution!
        Scared…happy…sad….or angry… just take it in your stride!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat, Here is that step in a direction that gives purpose and meaning as well as the understanding of it all. It is the plea to remain human and feel humanity inside oneself. You describe yourself in a humble way but this post is the shadow of a deep and brilliant mind. There is remarkable beauty in the heart and soul of one who would choose to be such. There is the sublime allure of a person who not only questions themselves for the answers but also all that is tangible to those open eyes, the fragile heart, and lioness spirit. Science is merely a process. It has no emotion, there is no human or humanity in a process with the purpose of discovery and definition that is factual based on cold analysis. What makes science good or evil is the humans who give the results a purpose to do good, to serve humanity, to stay altruistic or to destroy with grand and glorious efficiency. Science is a tool like a screwdriver, philosophy is a question given a guess for an answer, and we humans are a describable group and indescribable persona that finds a rare connection in a sea of humanity. Your mind has focused a laser in a direction that chooses the one behind the gaze set on a tall frame as the moveable feast of all the beauty of uniqueness has to offer those that would sit a spell and share that chamomile tea at sunset and listen transfixed to the musings of a brilliant mind. Nurture that and let it grow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just say thank you. I was thinking about your comment for a while. There’s just something about it that makes me feel very hopeful about humanity; that the power of learning is a great force. That’s the path I want to take in life. I want to learn. And I want to think. There’s just so much that is so incredible about this world, from science to philosophy to art to literature and I want to know as much as I can about it. I don’t think that I’m being humble when I say that I’m just someone who has a lot of big questions. That’s just me. (Or maybe I’m just an ignorant teenager, who knows?) I really like how you said that humans are a describable group and indescribable persona. I think that there is so much magic and mystery surrounding humanity, and I’m just trying my best not to ignore that. Thank you so much for your comment, I appreciate it a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see from your comments that you do have a firm grasp on the right path. Doubt or questioning our world and ourselves is the path to certainty. I truly believe that learning and education, when attempted with purpose, is the key to knowledge, understanding, and experience in time turns all of it to the wisdom that not only has a positive impact on the holder of such wisdom but on all that interact with a wise person. A curiosity that is unconstrained is a true sign of genius. But what purpose does wisdom or genius serve unless it serves humanity? This is the noble path that gives our life the meaning we seek. Consider a flower. The bloom is most noticeable and the recipient of our admiration, but what we must know is what comes before the bloom. There are many transformations along the way with risk and chance that might cut the bloom short of its magnificence. What I find even more beautiful, is all the effort and circumstance that comes to the point where the young bud opens to its greatest glory and then in time as is the nature of all things, the flower recedes to the seed and the cycle repeats. If we ignore the path, we miss the greatest part of the flower’s beauty. All of this is to say, trust yourself and the path will open up to you. Be brave and courageous in your acceptance of the unknown ahead and follow your heart as you train your mind to the many secrets unfolding and yet to unfold. Be you and no one else and then your uniqueness will be your navigation star that lights the way. Not everyone will “get” you. But, some will. If these few friends make a deep connection, they are worth the investment of your time and friendship. They provide the nurture that brings the bud to bloom. Keep bringing it, Kat. You are doing a wonderful job.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I meant to ask you if you have read the book, Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaardner? I think you will like it as it ties in nicely with your recent posts.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. A friend recommended it to me and I read the cliff notes on it and recognized what a great reference it is and it had a lot of the questions you bring up on your blog so it seemed like a good fit. I am a big fan of philosophy but I don’t have to subscribe to every theory. It just shows what the prevalent thoughts were as humankind progressed through different eras. Sophie’s World was written as a novel to introduce the different philosophers over time as a means to help Sophie solve a problem. I went ahead and ordered it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Not exactly true. In science as in everything, there are always exceptions to the ‘rules’. Indeed these exceptions have paved the way for more science, much like how a single person has the potential to change entire systems with their own ideals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I say that we don’t have to believe in science in order to understand our human existence, that does not mean that I need to believe in some other radical theory. When I meant is that we don’t need to look to science to explain our emotions and feelings, we can give our own, humanistic, personal, reasons. That does not mean we are some sort of exceptions to a rule if we choose not to embrace scientific reasoning in every aspect of our lives. There’s a difference: knowing science and embracing it.

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