This volume is based on Louis Dumont's many years of research into the development of individualism in Western culture. A sequel to "From Mandeville to Marx", in which Dumont established the primacy of economic ideology in European society, the book turns to the different national forms of the modern ideology of economic individualism. By means of a detailed comparison of France and Germany, it demonstrates that the French and German notions of individualism are far from equivalent. Dumont focuses on the question of whether personhood or national ideology is the defining character of the individual. He carefully studies the development of German nationalism and individualism in the work of Troeltsch, Thomas Mann, Goethe and others, and compares this with the French ideas of equality and individualism formed during the Revolution. For the French, Dumont demonstrates, an individual is a person first and, by virtue of being a person, a Frenchman second. For the Germans, on the other hand, an individual is a member of the German nation above all, and only by virtue of being German is one a person. Although the immediate comparison is between France and Germany, Dumont's comparative anthropological approach also seeks to shed light on European culture as a whole and offers a reinterpretation of Western ideology and the notion of the individual.
This work examines the different national forms of the modern ideology of economic individualism. By means of a detailed comparison of France and Germany, it seeks to demonstrate that the French and German notions of individualism are far from equivalent.
University of Chicago Press
05, 06, UU, UP, P