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Individual vs. Social Needs Priority


In modern conditions and the accelerated development of civilization, the role of the individual in society is becoming more significant, in connection with this, the problem of individual freedom and responsibility to society more and more often arises. The first attempt to justify the point of view of explaining the relationship between democracy and the need for its recognition of their organic relationship belongs to Spinoza, who defined liberty as a conscious need. The detailed concept of the dialectical unity of freedom and necessity from idealistic positions was given by Hegel (Miletzki and Broten 44).

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The scientific, dialectical-materialistic solution to the problem of freedom and necessity proceeds from the recognition of objective necessity as primary, and the will and consciousness of man as a secondary derivative. In addition, the individual will is mostly free where it can be heard and expressed with positive feedback that manifests itself in a change. However, it should be noted that individuality is vital for having a healthy and functional society due to the fact that groups can be manipulated or controlled. Thus, an individual should have at least equal authority compared to society.

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The first reason is that individuality and personal freedom play a significant role in overall societal satisfaction. This is the difference between the universality of all nature and the universality of that part that has been historically mastered by man. However, Marx and Engels argued differently, because they borrowed from Hegel a formula according to which freedom is a known necessity (Miletzki and Broten 52). This formula made it possible to get along with the doctrine of historical determinism. It was believed that her awareness would lead to an acceleration of historical progress, to a more rapid onset of the communist future.

In addition, individual needs must be placed before social necessities, because the former is a critical determining piece of the latter. Kant could not ignore the freedom of choice in the moral life of people, and he called for help to the so-called practical mind, the competence of which was well-known, in its formulation, moral-categorical imperative (Miletzki and Broten 61). Therefore, an individual’s will must be prioritized in order to preserve a functioning State, because suppressing individualism will increase tension among people and its government.

However, the philosopher did not give a clear answer on how to distinguish between both minds in the mental and objective-practical activity of people. In modern conditions, in the era of the development of democracy, the problem of individual freedom is becoming more global (Barnet et al. 87). It is being resolved at the level of international organizations in the form of laws on the rights and freedoms of the individual, which are now becoming the basis of any policy and are carefully protected. For instance, democracy is prevalent in individualistic countries, whereas a number of Asian and collectivistic nations had cases when freedom of expression was suppressed (Wong and Liu 161). The recent case of Hong Kong protest is an excellent demonstration of the State dismissing an individual’s will.


In conclusion, not all problems of personal freedom have been solved all over the world, since this is one of the most challenging tasks. Nonetheless, an individual will must be treated as a more important aspect of human governance due to its direct impact on society. Personalities in culture are currently billions, and every minute on earth, their interests, rights, and freedoms clash. Such concepts as freedom and responsibility are inseparable since freedom is not permissiveness; for violation of other people’s rights and freedoms, the person is responsible to society according to the law adopted by the community.

Works Cited

Barnet, Sylvan, et al. Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings. Bedford, 2016.

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Miletzki, Janna, and Nick Broten. Development as Freedom. Macat, 2017. Taylor & Francis Group. Web.

Wong, Hio Tong, and Shih-Diing Liu. “Cultural Activism during the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement”. Journal of Creative Communications, vol. 13, no. 2, 2018, 157-165.

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