chapter  2
38 Pages

The Discovery of the Individual

This chapter discusses long-run historical process, which people call, the Discovery of the Individual. Talcott Parsons's essay 'Christianity and modern industrial society' is the combination of long-run and short-run explanations, with its assessment of Christianity's contribution to the emergence of modern society. Christianity emerged as an evangelical and universalistic religion with a doctrine of egalitarian salvation. The relationship between the Christian confessional, the development of casuistry and the emergence of conscience is of importance in a sociological history of individuality. These confessional rituals in Judaism laid the foundation for subsequent Christian developments, but they tended to assume a highly ritualistic and group nature. Marx and Engels thought that the growth of working-class socialism would gradually undermine the ideological dominance of the Christian churches. Both sociology and Marxism assume a great transformation of society with industrialization. In Marxism, the notion of a great transformation takes the form of a debate about the relationship between feudalism and capitalism.