In 1984, the American political philosopher Michael Sandel anticipated the effects of liberal individualism when he wrote that ‘in our public life we are more entangled but less attached than ever before’. Today the Covid-19 pandemic opens up the space for renewing a communitarian spirit of rediscovering the importance of attachment to people and place. Protective isolation has thrown us back onto family and neighbourhood, community and country. Yet at the same time, we find greater meaning in virtual connections worldwide, crossing liberal fault lines between the private and the public, the local and the global.
Philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke paint a picture of humankind living out short, brutish lives of self-interest, held together by a tenuous social contract of mutual benefit. But this liberal conception of the self is facing inevitable decline, argues Adrian Pabst, as we find ourselves thrown into a society characterised by community and cooperation.
Read Adrian’s full article “The self beyond brutality” in iai news.