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The Tyranny of UtilityBehavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism$
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Gilles Saint-Paul

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691128177

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691128177.001.0001

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The Challenge to the Unitary Individual in Western Thought

The Challenge to the Unitary Individual in Western Thought

(p.14) 2 The Challenge to the Unitary Individual in Western Thought
The Tyranny of Utility

Gilles Saint-Paul

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the strands of thought challenging the hypothesis of a rational unitary individual. One prominent critic was Friedrich Nietzsche. For Nietszche, the individual's attempt to develop a consistent self and to make sense of and conceptualize objective reality is a miserable lie that is socially constructed by weaker individuals in order to rationalize their lack of vitality. Accordingly, the human ideal proposed by Nietzsche rejects self-consciousness which is another illusory property of the language; therefore, there is no sense in which he would be unitary or even care about optimizing his behavior according to consistent preferences. He is some kind of beast (the “blonde beast”) who gives in to his instincts and the immediate stimuli of his environment. Ultimately, Nietzsche's thought had numerous influences, most notably on Freudianism and the late twentieth century's Postmodernists.

Keywords:   unitary individual, Friedrich Nietzsche, objective reality, consistent self, self-consciousness, Freudianism, Postmodernism

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