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Individuality vs society: From Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray


This example comes from Oscar Wilde's famous The Picture of Dorian Gray, and describes


The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion--these are the two things that govern us. And yet-- (The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Norton, 2006, 19)


Notice how again, in this passage, the I is associated with nature: "self-development" is "To realize one's nature perfectly". Two things, however, make this example different from Hume's:

daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann