That each human is unique is common knowledge.
That the uniqueness of each human scales down to even their smallest reactions to words, pictures, signs, symbols is also well-known.
Experimental support for this position can be found here: Researchers can identify you by your brain waves with 100 percent accuracy. The study this article is based on is here: A Novel Method for Very High Accuracy Event-Related Potential Biometric Identification.
By averaging individual EEG responses to 500 images, researchers were later able to identify individual people with 100% accuracy. The main expected use for this research is biometric identification of people wanting to enter secure spaces.
That this research also has implications for social-psychology is what I am interested in today.
If each of us is unique with unique responses to pretty much everything, how are we able to communicate?
We communicate with each other in cultural terms. That is, we use unifying cultural concepts to provide a sense of agreement. Some might say to manufacture an illusion of agreement.
Culture is a hierarchical group of unifying principles that organizes the minds of its members.
Similarly, what we call the “self” or the “ego” is nothing more than a unifying principle that organizes the mind of the individual.
It should not take too much effort to see that what people think of as their “self” is usually an imported hierarchy that comes from the individual’s understanding of the culture to which they belong.
Individuals tailor their imported “selves” in much the same ways that we decorate our rooms or choose our clothes. There is a good deal of leeway in how you construct yourself, but there are also serious limitations.
This why individuals in one culture differ from individuals in another. If they have commonalities, those are often shared cultural roots or instinctive human behaviors that find expression in all societies.
I believe the above view of culture and the individual’s role in it describes a dangerous trap.
This is so because the resonance between “self” and “culture” is a powerful tautology, based on illusions.
No matter how you change culture, the trap remains the same.
Change in culture means little more than a rearrangement of limited parts that will never come together as an enlightened whole because cultures are always lowest common denominators.
Make culture more “tolerant” and it will gradually be undermined and replaced by those who come into the tent under the new rules.
We see exactly this happening with SJWs whose demands for tolerance have morphed into totalitarian demands for tolerance as they define it.
Do as we say or be fired, ostracized, demonstrated against, beaten-up.
I do not see any way to get out of this problem except the Buddhist way. Renounce culture in most of its guises and as an individual withdraw from its worst bs as much as possible.
Culture, as much as the ego or self, is a fundamental delusion. It is the stuff of the first noble truth and it causes suffering.
As a Buddhist, I understand that culture is necessary for our educations up to a point. And I understand that the self is necessary for healthy individual development up to a point.
But once that point has been reached, I renounce the totalitarianism of culture, the totalitarianism of the self, the totalitarianism of any lowest common denominator anything.
Notice I said totalitarianism of.
I can accept and function in a culture that allows great freedom of thought with few rules. I always gladly obey all the rules in national parks and adore the Bill of Rights, though sadly it is slipping away.
Similarly, I am good with a healthy persona restrained by the five precepts and used as a basis for social intercourse and freedom of thought.