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  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

April 9, 2024

Looking to Nature   

Nature has been a resource for human inspiration throughout history.  The lessons of Nature can be organized using our triad of human experience—physical-rational-choice. 

PHYSICALLY:  We have interacted with Nature throughout our lives.  We took notice of the snow-capped mountains, rushing streams, and starry nights.  Perhaps we went camping with a pup-tent.  Looking like a plastic tube closable at both ends, it was an economical way to keep us dry and separated from crawling creatures. Whether it be a gray squirrel, blue bird, or brown bear; we could relate to the physical uniqueness of each of Nature’s residents.  To avoid mental fatigue, we rationally grouped similar items and ignored their differences.  However, there was pleasure in focusing occasionally on individual differences.  There may even have been a sense of wonder as the individual parts of Nature’s inhabitants formed an awesome whole as with an eco-system.  And, there was the afternoon we gained a time perspective while counting the rings on a tree which had been cut down to make way for a road. When driving down an interstate highway, we saw colored striations along the side of a mountain.  We marveled at those deposits from millions of years ago.       

RATIONALLY:  We saw change over time whether it was the seasons or when noticing a baby bear become a big papa bear.  We saw birth and death with our family dog.  We saw humming birds, some with long beaks and others with curved beaks.  It may have been pointed out to us that these differences demonstrated evolutionary interactions between animals and plants.  Particularly fascinating, as a child, was seeing the interaction between bee and flower demonstrating the invisible hand of self-interest.  We marveled at the creative ways animals brought egg and sperm together foretelling the beginning of a new generation.  We observed cooperation for species-survival as with birds in a flock, fish in a school, and wolves in a pack.  We were touched when seeing the older taking care of the younger and teaching those skills necessary for survival.  Sometimes smaller ideas would combine to form mega ideas, such as “checks and balances” and “natural selection.”          

CHOICE:  Here, we are in the exclusive realm of human nature.  For sure, human experience is something more than simply physical and rational.  Perhaps it was around 12 years old when we took notice of a sense of self-awareness.  And, when we become aware of something, we spoke of it as being self-evident.  We came to realize that there were others similar to ourselves in that they also seemed to have the capacity of self-awareness.  However, based on one’s personal experience, what was self-evident to one person was rarely self-evident to anyone else.  Individually, our worlds are private.  We cannot see into another’s world of awareness, and neither can anyone else see into ours.  Each individual’s world of awareness is always personal, unique, and changing.    

With some thoughtful reflection, it became self-evident that we cannot know our own physical characteristics or that stuff external to us.  However, we can know our interactions.  In the 1800-1900s, this idea came to be known as “relativity” in both philosophy and science.  That is, I can know the sense of the coldness of water relative to me, or the enjoyment relative to me when watching a sunset.  Conversely, I know nothing of the “sunset” separate from my senses, and neither do I know anything about who or what “I am” separate from my senses (including retained past experience).  Remove all sensation and we have what we call “nothing”—as when in a deep sleep.  

Our awareness, all of it, is basically spiritual in its nature.  Awareness is neither physical nor rational.  Consciousness has no weight or dimension, and is known only to each individual.  Human life, as Nature would have it, is an individual matter.  Our point of control over our life is our rational awareness of alternatives from which we choose.  We can choose some friends, some rational ideas, and some physical experiences over others.  In this respect, our world of experience is of our own making.

Humans are at the top of Nature’s chain of command, followed by animals and then plants.  Some combination of chemical-biological-mineral interactions makeup the foundation for all that is above.  Every individual’s primary task is to establish mutually beneficial relationships with whomever he comes into contact.    

Politically, we can see that man has formed groups around the lowest common denominator and exercised his capacity to act like animals.  We choose to become like fish in an aquarium, plants in an arboretum, or animals in a zoo.  That is, we leave our humanity (our ability to choose) to a leader to whom we pledge our loyalty.  Think of Biden and Trump seeking to be our leaders by gesticulating images of strength.  Whoever is given the leadership position, takes on the role similar to a lion over a pride.  Dominance is determined by physical power.  As with animals, power establishes who leads a group, and power establishes which group dominates over competing groups.  And again, many species of animals practice infanticide, such as when an adult male lion kills the lion cubs of another to be replaced by his own.  Humans acting like animals will enslave other groups, threaten to blow them up, or just blow them up. 

We can observe humans behaving like humans.  For them, it’s a matter of finding integrity with others who choose to behave like humans.  Most notable, humans have the capacity to make contracts.  Of course, given the definition of a contract, membership would have to be voluntary.  It can be observed that contracts are effective only to the degree that integrity exists among the members (doing what they say they will do).  Power still resides in groups, and groups committed to maximizing individual freedom can be distinguished from those whose leader dominates the group’s members just as the group seeks to dominate other groups.       

It can be seen as self-evident that humans are equal spiritually, but never equal physically or rationally.  Only in this context, would contracts provide for similar rights to all members of the group, and the power of the group would be to protect the freedom to make and enforce individual contracts.  Freedom is a matter of being able to exercise one’s capacity to choose one’s own pursuit of happiness and fulfillment—that is, maximizing the freedom to choose for every individual.  It’s a balancing act.  Where does one’s freedom to act end and another’s begin?  People have been looking for the answer throughout written history.  One of the oldest approaches (500 BCE) was known as Taoism—finding harmony by bringing together apparent contrasts or Yin-Yang thought.  Currently, we have the United States with:  a Declaration of Independence stating that every individual is free to pursue his/her course in life coupled with the duty to remove any government unable or unwilling to provide such freedom; a Constitution providing that contracts between individuals are inviolate (Chief Justice John Marshal, 1819, Article 1, Section 10); and a Bill of Rights guaranteeing individual freedom in religion and speech (choice of associations).       

Maturity is a process for both individuals and nations.  Laws are of little use if the citizenry of a nation has not matured to the point of making self-evident the individual freedom to choose for every human, and preventing any individual from denying another the same freedom.       

Expecting the next posting in about 10 days with the topic:  “Madam President”

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.