Individualism vs. Collectivism

I was just thinking about individualism vs. collectivism. Maybe because my introduction to philosophy was Buddhist philosophy, I’ve never seen the two as in opposition. (In short, this binary is fake and can’t be mapped on a scale or gradient; this applies to philosophy as well as politics.)

There’s a relevant bit in Dogen’s Genjo Koan about the moon being reflected in a dewdrop; the dewdrop reflects the moon (and the sky and the grass) but this doesn’t break the dewdrop:

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.

Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky.

Interdependence; each thing “exists,” as it were (but never permanently and never the same) individually, but this can only be so in relation to everybody and everything else. There’s no me without a you or that mosquito buzzing over there or that cigarette smoldering in the ashtray.

Each atom exists in relation to every other atom, just like this.

Kurt, Dave, and Krist exist as individuals, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, but also as a collective, Nirvana. In relation. Without the individuals, there would be no collective; without the collective, there would be no Nirvana.

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