The 20th century witnessed the rise of individualism in both intellectual thought and political and economic institutions. Despite an apparent subjugation of intellectual and moral values to materialism and a tendency toward social conformity that has accompanied democratic influences, democracy is not a static system. In short, democracy is what we make of it. Where the traditional forms of aristocratic government were founded on principles of heredity and wealth, a sophisticated form of democracy could hopefully be founded on equal opportunity and freedom.
This research examines the political philosophy of individualism that emerged in the 20th century-namely, existentialism-and discusses its significance for political institutions and the polity as a whole. The objective of political philosophy in general is analyzed and the methodology used in existential thought for impacting the world is scrutinized.
Existentialism, more than any other contemporary political philosophy, has recognized the opportunities for developing a sophisticated democratic order and has demanded in a very uncompromising way that individuals become aware of their freedom and assume responsibility for the future. Even after nearly three-quarters of a century after first being developed into a cohesive theory, existentialism is alive with historical relevance.
Western political thought offers a great diversity of philosophic viewpoints other than existentialism. Virtually every shade of philosophic opinion can be found in some corner of society, ranging from the ancient philosophies of Platonic authoritarianism to the contemporary schools of positivism and pragmatism. But regardless how different the philosophical premises, all philosophic frameworks share one or both of the following: (1) they either assume some definite metaphysical view of the world and human nature; or (2) they develop some formal methodology for inquiry. While these meta...