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I may be an individual who flies off the handle all the time, making me different from others around me, but that does not mean I am free.

Freedom has to do with cause.

If freedom does exist, it exists when the individual is somehow his or her own cause, exercising control over self and situation.

Individuality has to do with differences.

When a person stands out, he or she is said to be very different from others, and we usually call that person an individual.

Individuality is like all other human qualities: It arises in interaction with others. We are all different—and some of us are very different—partly because we each have a unique set of interactions, positions, cultures, and socialization experiences. We are all subject to a different set of social controls. Each actor faces a different set of influences; each is the convergence of a different set of social forces.

Causes of individualism

Each of us has a different interaction history and is subject to a different set of social forces

Each of us is biologically different, and the reactions of others to these differences also enter into what we all become

Each of us because we have some freedom are able to create our own uniqueness to some extent

The Origin of Human Freedom

George Herbert Mead believes that freedom like everything else about us, comes from our social life. Humans are social to their very core, and we are not only imprisoned by this fact but also set free by it. It is responsible for our ability to break out, to control our self, to act back on society, and to direct our self away from what the socializers and controllers want.

what they want, actually provide us with tools to decide independently what we want. More specifically, it is through socialization that the individual takes on three important qualities: symbol, self, and mind, and these, in turn, become qualities that become the basis for human freedom.

Human Beings Are Symbol Users

Human beings, totally helpless at birth, without instinct to guide them, must rely on other people—on socialization—to show them the way to deal with situations. This is accomplished by the child imitating the adult, through rewards and punishments given by the adult, but most of all through the words used by the adult to identify the world, the person, the rules, the patterns, and so on.

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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