Take a position and discuss the following proposition: From ancient Mesopotamia through the Renaissance, individualism was the primary value driving the historical development of Western Civilization. (Use relevant primary as well as secondary assigned sources for your discussion.)
From ancient Mesopotamia through the Renaissance, individualism was the primary value driving the historical development of Western Civilization.
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From ancient Mesopotamia through the Renaissance, was individualism the primary value driving the historical development of Western Civilization?
Individualism is not typically valued in society. The goals of society are generally to maintain the status quo and perpetuate the society as it exists in the present. Individualism typically upsets the status quo and elevates the rights of the individual over those of the group. Therefore, throughout history collectivism rather than individualism has been the dominant value embraced by civilizations. Collectivism refers to a society where people from birth onwards are integrated into strong cohesive groups, which throughout the people's lifetimes continue to protect them in exchange for loyalty.
There are certain pre-requisites for individualism to be possible and embraced by a society. First of all some type of mass production of tools and a surplus of food would be necessary. In early societies family groups worked together in order to plant, harvest, worship, raise families, build homes, hunt, attack the enemy or defend their settlement. There was really no place for a "free spirit" who wanted to forge ahead on his own. To abandon the settlement would result in a position of having to provide everything for oneself: food, clothing, shelter, tools, defense, etc.
In early civilizations collectivism was extremely important. New settlements that sprang up needed all individualism to forsake their individualism and pull together for the good of the group. Because weapons were fairly primitive, hunting was almost always done in groups. Even more important than hunting, as a source of food, was agriculture. Preparing the soil, planting and harvesting have been, through most of history, a collective endeavor. Irrigation projects, harvesting crops before rains or drought could destroy them, protecting crops from scavengers of either animal or human origin, storing crops and dispersing the final product are all jobs that ...
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