that he has individual freedom and can rightly be regarded as independentfrom the groups, to which he belongs. There is then a connection betweenthe question of personal identity and the development of individualism. Thelatter has two different meanings: the value attributed to the individual withinthe group, and the intensity of the relationship of the person to himself.
Bythe same token, the notion of identity is particular to the Western world.That is why Tocqueville attributed to Christianity the idea of a substan-tial identity of human beings. It meant that all men are basically identicaland their differences randomly derive from birth or history. The recogni-tion of the unity of mankind comes from omitting those differences that arenot essential in the eyes of God. Nevertheless, with the rise of Christianity,influenced by Greek philosophy, the idea of “self-concern emerges,” asMichel Foucault argues. A person was not only a legal or civic entity, butalso a moral being with an individual soul, able to stand independentlyfrom his community, and even be disconnected from it. As early as thethird and fourth centuries, the individual became a being irreducible exceptto himself, with an intimacy with himself, theoretically able to think byhimself without any references. Finally, thanks to Christianity, moralitywas no longer a matter of how good one should be, but how just one shouldbe. Morality is no longer substantial; it becomes a perfunctory obligation.The ideal of disengagement finds its original expression in the Pla-tonic, Stoic and Christian ideas according to which one should no longerlook for virtue in public life, but rather one should strive for self-controlthrough reason. But above all, as Charles Taylor demonstrated, the notionof
was the first moral source of the modern age, and it was to alarge extent brought by Christianity. According to Saint Augustine, theway to God does not lead through an outside source, i.e., the visibleworld, but through reflexive conscience: “Instead of going outward, goinside yourself” (“
Noli foras ire, in teipsum redi
”). The heart becomes aself-sufficient, secluded space for meeting God, and social relations areno longer essential. That means that the proof of God’s existence is foundby experiencing interiority. At the same time, free will is redefined as theability to consent. Consequently, individuality becomes a private affair.
76.Cf. Hubertus G. Hubbeling, “Some Remarks on the Concept of Person in West-ern Philosophy,” in Hans G. Kippenberg, Yme B. Kuiper and Andy F. Sanders, eds.,
Con-cepts of Person in Religion and Thought
(Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1990), pp. 9-24.7.Cf. Louis Dumont, “Christian Beginnings of Modern Individualism,” in MichaelCarritgers, Steven Collins and Steven Lukes, eds.,
The Category of Person. Anthropology,Philosophy, History
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 93-122.