No, it’s Not the Grossly Exaggerated Monologue of a Bad Guy in an Ayn Rand Novel

But it sure sounds like it. Here is University of Maryland Maryland Institute College of Art philosophy professor Firmin DeBrabander, writing in the New York Times Opinionator blog:

But why do we presume individual agency in the first place? Why do we insist on it stubbornly, irrationally, often recklessly?

…. To be human, according to Spinoza, is to be party to a confounding existential illusion — that human individuals are independent agents — which exacts a heavy emotional and political toll on us. It is the source of anxiety, envy, anger — all the passions that torment our psyche — and the violence that ensues. If we should come to see our nature as it truly is, if we should see that no “individuals” properly speaking exist at all, Spinoza maintained, it would greatly benefit humankind.

There is no such thing as a discrete individual, Spinoza points out. This is a fiction.

For some reason, the model of humans that posits we are and therefore should act like ants in an ant hill doesn’t appeal to me, and doesn’t strike me as consistent with long-term human flourishing.

UPDATE: Beyond the language I pointed out, Prof. Debrabander’s theory shorn of its philosophical digressions about the nature of individuality, seems to be that there are two alternatives: either believe in “rugged individualism” in which, counter to reality, everyone is totally the master of his own fate, or favor big, intrusive government. The fact that humans cooperate and coordinate not just through government but also through voluntary institutions and civil society is ignored.

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