Collective Thinking

Essay by sonu63College, UndergraduateA+, March 2002

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Collective Thinking

Individualism. This idea is beaten through our heads since we learn how to first read. Slogans such as ?Everyone?s opinion counts,? to ?Be an Army of one,? are catapulted into our brains to ensure our self-esteem and self-reliance. In fact, is this really the way Americans think? Doris Lessing, in Group Minds clearly does not think so. ?We are group animals?when we?re in a group, we tend to think as that group does.? She states that to guard against the influence of ?group minds,? we need to use the information that we have become aware of. ?It is information that will set people free? You must be on your guard against you own most primitive reactions and instincts.? The second thing we need to do to guard against ?group minds,? is to question our position in society, and not to naively conclude that since ?I am a citizen of a free society?I am an individual, making individual choices.?

Her proposal is valid. In General, Americans place a lot of importance on individuality, and without noticing it, most of our ideas, thoughts, and dreams are governed by the groups we exist within.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a writer from the 1800?s, tackled this very issue on his trip to America. He wrote that no matter how much Americans valued their opinions as their own, in truth they were simply what everyone agreed on. De Tocqueville went in detail discussing how each one of our thoughts was common to the whole, as a result of our minds being exposed to an interactive community. He thought that Americans couldn?t help this behavior, and didn?t propose reason to guard against it, for he didn?t see it in a negative light. Ms. Lessing from Group Minds shares his viewpoint of ?group minds;?...