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Full text of "Authority and the individual"


IN this lecture I propose to consider the importance,
both for good and evil, of impulses and desires that
belong to some members of a community but not to
all. In a very primitive community such impulses and
desires play very little part. Hunting and war are
activities in which one man may be more successful
than another, but in which all share a common pur-
pose. So long as a man's spontaneous activities are
such as all the tribe approves of and shares in, his
initiative is very little curbed by others within the
tribe, and even his most spontaneous actions con-
form to the recognized pattern of behaviour. But as
men grow more civilized there comes to be an in-
creasing difference between one man's activities and
another's, and a community needs, if it is to prosper,
a certain number of individuals who do not wholly
conform to the general type. Practically all progress,
artistic, moral, and intellectual, has depended upon
such individuals, who have been a decisive factor in
the transition from barbarism to civilization. If a
community is to make progress, it needs exceptional
individuals whose activities, though useful, are not of
a sort that ought to be general. There is always a
f tendency in highly organized society for the activities