Foundation for the Study of Individualism

A Non-profit, Educational and Research Organization Since 1972 [formerly, “School of Communication”]

“Cogito ergo sum”—I think, therefore I am—Descartes, 1637

Welcome to the FSI Website

The purpose here is for any individual to have access to those historical and current ideas relating to individualism as a philosophy for living. The basic contention is that individual experience is the foundation upon which everything else is constructed. As suggested in the Descartes quote above, it all starts with the individual.

New—April 2021
For the last 20 years, I have been compiling my research notes on individualism.  God-Sex-Politics:  It’s All Relative puts forth the thesis that, over the last 4000 years, individual dignity has been built on a foundation of relative thinking. 

The book can be purchased on Amazon.com.  If you would like to read it now, you can download it without charge by clicking here: 

 Best wishes, 

 Gordon F. Brown

Front Cover Revised June 2023

May 10, 2024

 Lessons from Science

 Using our primary organizer of human experience (physical—rational—choice), science can be seen as a method for linking our physical and rational domains of experience.  Modern-day science (since 1900) does not address the matter of choice.  It can tell us how to get from point A to point B, but not whether we should go.  That is, knowing how to put a man on the moon is not the same as actually choosing to go there.  Science can serve humanity, but never be its master.        

 We will keep the limitations of science in the background while focusing on the contributions made by the scientific method for finding integrity within the physical and rational domains of human experience.  The building blocks of science begin with facts defined as measurements that are publicly observable and repeatable.  Facts are published in journals so that any individual could reproduce the method and make a personal observation of the measurements.   Rather than authoritarian, science is accountable to every individual.   Even one individual can challenge a fact, and modify its future use.

 When I went to high school, we were taught as fact that human cells were made up of 24 pairs of chromosomes.  That is, in 1921, Theophilus Painter had published his finding of 24 pairs of chromosomes.  It had been taught as fact for 35 years.  However, in 1955, an Indonesian born researcher in Belgium observed that there were only 23 pairs of chromosomes.  As partners, Joe Hin Tjio and Albert Levan, had developed a new method for preparing the solution when isolating human chromosomes.  Then, Joe Hin Tjio used the method for counting the number of human chromosomes.  He counted 23 pairs rather than 24.  In 1956, Joe Hin Tjio as author and Albert Levan as co-author published the findings. The method and findings were reproducible.  In 1957, my college course had already changed the fact that human cells have 23 rather than 24 pairs of chromosomes.  It is in this way, that the scientific method is self-correcting.  What’s inspiring about science is that a non-PhD named Joe could publish his method and findings, and change our understanding of a 35-year-old fact.  That’s awesome!       

 Science is a process:  first inductive (parts to whole), then deductive (whole to parts), and then inductive again.  Physically observed measurements (facts) are rationally combined into laws and theories.  When you build a bridge, you do so in light of your understanding of the specific laws (stress) and general theories (gravity) applicable to bridges.  If the bridge comes down during an earthquake, you have new facts with which to modify your theory, and you are then in a position to improve the rebuilding.  It’s the same after an airplane crash.  Some have likened the process to mountain climbing.  After climbing to the top of a mountain, you are in a position to see an even higher mountain.  Most people resist descending from the mountain they are on—even when they know of a higher mountain.  As Nobel recipient physicist Max Planck put it: People don’t change, they simply die and a new generation grows up with different experiences.  

 Changes in science can occur without violence.  While everyone is free to consider their own laws and theories, the facts must be self-evident to any inquirer.  Laws and theories are tested only for rational integrity with respect to the physical facts.  Scientists can actually come together for a conference—with minimal violence. 

 Science promotes an environment of individual freedom.  While the crowd may find safety in the path most traveled, any individual can choose to take a path less traveled.  The scientific literature is replete with examples of discoveries by individuals who went it alone—sometimes enduring ridicule and even shunning by influential members of the scientific community.  Even when ridiculed and shunned by the crowd, the mature scientist can find solace in a sense of personal integrity.                   

 Science demonstrates that all knowledge is relative to the individual perceiver.  While many variables can be controlled, the scientist is always viewing nature through his/her senses.  As eminent historians Will and Ariel Durant put it:  “We must operate with partial knowledge, and be provisionally content with probabilities; in history, as in science and politics, relativity rules, and all formulas should be suspect.” (The Lessons of History, 1968, p. 13)     

 That’s it!  We have (1) an alternative to authoritarian rule, (2) a process that matures over time, (3) change without violence, (4) a rational approach toward individual freedom, and (5) an understanding of how all human experience is relative.  Taken together, the contributions of science made in the past are remarkable.  Looking forward, modern-day science can light the way for any individual seeking understanding in how the physical world of personal experience can be rendered rationally intelligible.

 As humans, we can be seen as well-positioned to address the domain of choice. 

[For those interested in my perspective regarding the development of science, see below.]

 Anticipating the next posting in about 10 days with the topic: “Integrity Lost and Found”

 ADDENDUM:  THE BIRTH AND GROWTH OF SCIENCE

 Here is a bird’s-eye-view of my understanding of modern-day science.  You can check out the degree of overlap with your own.  I could go back to Adam and Eve or Alexander the Great, but I simply choose to begin in the early 1700s with a group called the British Empiricists. 

 They were interested in studying the philosophy of human experience.  The early focus began by taking note that the human body is a sensory organ.  Next, it followed that all human experience is the result of sensations.  Then, it followed that we do not sense an external world as it exists externally, but as it exists after interacting with our individual sensory systems.  Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch are all the result of external stuff after being processed by an individual’s sensory organs; such as eyes, ears, tongue, and skin.  (That’s a partial list.)  Some of the names associated with British Empiricism included John Locke, George, Berkeley, and David Hume,  The point made throughout is that all experience involves inseparable interactions between external stuff and an individual’s sensory system.     

 About 200 hundred years later, a group of philosophical types (math, logic, physics) began to study the philosophy of science.  In about 1907, they began meeting in Viennese coffeehouses.  First labeled logical positivists and later logical empiricists, the group became known as the Vienna Circle and, in about 1924, began meeting at the University of Vienna.  Their initial inquiry was to ask: “What can we agree on?”  The task was finding a consistent way of describing human experience.  Asked another way, what characteristics are necessary to declare a statement to be self-evident? 

 The initial understanding was what they called facts.  Facts came to be defined as having three necessary and sufficient characteristics.  First, they are measurements; second, those measurements must be publicly observable; and third, the measurements must be repeatable.  Next, facts are rationally combined to form theories—an intelligible way of combining the facts as they relate to the world of our personal experience.  By replicating facts of our own choosing, we can bring about empirical results of our own choosing.  By performing a given operation, we can save a life.  Similarly, by reducing bacteria during an operation, we can increase the likelihood of achieving our desired experience.  And again, our perception of things (theories) guides us to observations (facts) that get us where we choose to go.         

 Looking at the last 100 years (since 1900), here are a few names that can be associated with logical empiricism as it matured into modern-day science:  Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alfred Whitehead, Karl Popper, Alfred Ayer, Albert Einstein, Ernest Mach, Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, and Richard von Mises.  

 Have a nice day,

 GFB

Milton Friedman

You are invited to look over “A Conversation with Milton Friedman.” This one-year, email dialogue between FSI Founder, Gordon F. Brown, and the noted recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences focuses on linking a philosophy of individualism and the theory of free-market economics.

Ray Bradbury

New to this site is A Conversation with Ray Bradbury with Gordon Brown that began in 2007. Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) is a well-known and prolific American author of short stories and fiction with themes consistent with a philosophy of individualism–notably, Farhrenheit 451. [Posted on June 18, 2012]

Brown’s Perspectives and Commentaries

Visit “Brown’s Perspectives and Commentaries” for essays and reflections on a variety of topics related to individualism. Recent additions include:

US-China Policy–Posted March 12, 2012, this commentary is an aside to my primary focus of writing a treatise that provides a bird’s eye view of individualism as a philosophy based on a relative perspective of reality. When shopping at Trader Joe’s, a casual comment to another customer about the virtues of organic bananas resulted in his mentioning that he was going to China. With China now on my mind, I decided to post on this website some of my thoughts where I consider US-China policy to be a part of a natural maturational process involving induction and deduction. As for putting this commentary on the website, I took note that although we do no advertising, there are over 2000 hits per month with China being a respectable second to US hits.

Tiger’s Titantic –This commentary, posted December 20, 2009, on Mr. Wood’s current situation is viewed from a relative perspective and takes note of our newsletter in 2002, which can be seen as predicting a significant aspect of this episode.

*Herbert Hoover‘s American Individualism –This commentary, posted October 2008, explores the implications of Hoover’s philosophy of individualism.

“Relativity” is a term we frequently associate with individualism. Our use of the term simply refers to relationships as the basic dynamic underlying human experience. We have provided a link to a series of “Relatively Speaking” newsletters spanning over 25 years.

This is an active site with weekly additions and up-dates. Feel free to leave your comments using our Feedback link.