Holiday Reading

I picked up a book to read while we were away, and downloaded two to Kindle, though I didn’t get very far with any of them!

Maggie Thatcher famously said, unless it is apocryphal, “There is no such thing as Society”, to which my reply would be – there is no such thing as the individual. This is true in two senses, the individual can only be conceived of in relationship to other individuals, thus some kind of society, and without the support of any organized society, the fate of the individual would be Hobbesian indeed.

Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism by Larry Siedentop, thus seemed a profitable read, but having started it, I realise I should have read the prologue. It appears to be mainly christian apologetic. “People who live in the nations once described as part of Christendom …. seem to have lost their moral bearings.” Oh dear, grumpy old fart syndrome on the first page. The author is a fellow of Kempe college, Oxford, should have known.

Anyway I am determined to read it through, I wonder if there will be anything at all that I agree with? Actually, there is one statement I can agree with: “…that beliefs are nonetheless of primary importance, an assumption once far more widely held than it is today”, and another which which I agree may be true for some ideas, if not all, “…changes in belief, can take centuries to begin to modify social institutions.” (p 2)


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