An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Individuality (or selfhood) is the state or quality of being an individual; particularly of being a person separate from other people and possessing his or her own needs or goals, rights and responsibilities. The exact definition of an individual is important in the fields of biology, law, and philosophy.

From the 15th century and earlier (and also today within the fields of statistics and metaphysics) individual meant "indivisible", typically describing any numerically singular thing, but sometimes meaning "a person". From the 17th century on, individual indicates separateness, as in individualism.[1]

Although individuality and individualism are commonly considered to mature with age/time and experience/wealth, a sane adult human being is usually considered by the state as an "individual person" in law, even if the person denies individual culpability ("I followed instructions"). An individual person is accountable for their actions/decisions/instructions, subject to prosecution in both national and international law, from the time that they have reached age of majority, often though not always more or less coinciding with the granting of voting rights, tax and military duties/ individual right to bear arms (protected only under certain constitutions). In line with hierarchy, ultimate individual human reward for success and responsibility for failure is nonetheless found at the top of human society.

in International law:

in American law:

The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law states: A "natural person" is "A human being as distinguished from person (as a corporation) created by operation of law.[4] A 1910 legal dictionary states: "Individual: As a noun, this term denotes a single person as distinguished from a group or class, and also, very commonly, a private or natural person as distinguished from a partnership, corporation, or association."[5]

Early empiricists such as Ibn Tufail[6] in early 12th century Islamic Spain, and John Locke in late 17th century England, introduced the idea of the individual as a tabula rasa ("blank slate"), shaped from birth by experience and education. This ties into the idea of the liberty and rights of the individual, society as a social contract between rational individuals, and the beginnings of individualism as a doctrine.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel regarded history as the gradual evolution of Mind as it tests its own concepts against the external world.[citation needed] Each time the mind applies its concepts to the world, the concept is revealed to be only partly true, within a certain context; thus the mind continually revises these incomplete concepts so as to reflect a fuller reality (commonly known as the process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis). The individual comes to rise above his or her own particular viewpoint,[citation needed] and grasps that he or she is a part of a greater whole[citation needed] insofar as he or she is bound to family, a social context, and/or a political order.

This page was last edited on 14 May 2018, at 16:05 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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