Epistemology of Collective Individualism

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by Stan Crader

I’m working on two books simultaneously; aren’t we all? One project is non-fiction and the other fiction. Non-fiction is new to me. While I’m passionate about the subject, a biography of the people instrumental in establishing the Stihl brand in America, I find the research and accountability to fact tedious. As for the novel, I love the freedom to develop a story free from fact.

Both books deal with the profiling of people who are significant in their ways. The fictitious people in my novel are indwelled with characteristics of real people. It wasn’t until I began working on the non-fiction project that I realized how much the pioneers of Stihl influenced the development of fictitious characters in my novels.

One of the first things that must be done last when writing a book is choosing a title. There’s the working title that the author feels very strongly about and then there’s actual title, which is the one the publisher convinces the author to use, which is the title that has something to do with the book but of greater importance, one that will cause browsers to stop and look at the book, then it all boils down to the cover, the actual content of the book comes third.

The title to a blog is the same but different. It’s similar in that the title must attract readers, but the title should include words that will get picked up in digital searches; it’s important to be clever. The title to this blog is meant to cause a mental flinch and arouse curiosity. If you’ve read this far it worked.

Epistemology is just an academic, snooty, complicated way of saying study of or knowledge of. Collective individualism is a contrarian notion in that pure individualism is counter to collectivism. And thus begins the subject of the blog, which is to provide provocative material to the reader. It’s a chicken vs egg thing.

Are individuals most influenced by the group or are groups and families most influenced by the individual? We like to think of ourselves as individuals. Who are what shaped our beliefs and opinions? Our Christian values were shaped by family, Church, and Scripture. Granted, some traits are DNA dependent, but even identical twins don’t always think or act alike–hence, the collective power and shortcomings of the group. What’s my point you ask? I’m beginning to wonder too.

We’re most influenced by family, but it’s complicated. We don’t choose family, nor do they choose us, we’re sort of stuck with each other. We gradually gain independence but are never truly independent of family. And in the digital age, family is less private and more public. Regardless of the century of one’s birth, family collectively influences our character, beliefs, and interpersonal style.

The old adage, “We can pick our nose and pick our friends, but we’re stuck with family,” is not true. We can’t pick anything but our nose, and we can ignore family. Friends aren’t chosen, they’re the result of a developed relationship of kindred souls. The word friend has been used incorrectly so often that many don’t know the true meaning. We don’t pick our friends; friendship isn’t a decision; it’s a mutual commitment that requires no discussion, only action.

Both of my books are about individuals, unique and significant, collectively shaped by family and circumstance, who influence other friends, family, and groups, to affect change.

We can’t all be great, but we can all be good, and no matter what we think, say, or do, we are having an impact; make it a good one. Somebody is watching and it may be somebody who will someday be great, influence them for good.

Stan CraderStan Crader was born and raised in Bollinger County Missouri. Coming of age in rural Missouri provided him the material for many of the rich characters in his books. He credits the variety of jobs and the people with which he has worked for providing him his creative foundation.

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