Collectivist And Semicollectivist Manifestations of the Courage to Be as a Part

The courage to be as a part is the courage to affirm one’s own being by participation. One participates in the world to which one belongs and from which one is at the same time separated. But participating in the world becomes real through participation in those sections of it which constitute one’s own life. The world as a whole is potential, not actual. Those sections are actual with which one is partially identical. The more self-relatedness a being has the more it is able, according to the polar structure of reality, to participate. Man as the completely centered being or as a person can participate in everything, but he participates through that section of the world which makes him a person. Only in the continuous encounter with other persons does the person become and remain a person.

The place of this encounter is the community. Man’s participation in nature is direct, insofar as he is a definite part of nature through his bodily existence. His participation in nature is indirect and mediated through the community insofar as he transcends nature by knowing and shaping it. Without language there are no universals; without universals no transcending of nature and no relation to it as nature. But language is communal, not individual. The section of reality in which one participates immediately is the community to which one belongs. Through it and only through it participation in the world as a whole and in all its parts is mediated. Therefore he who has the courage to be as a part has the courage to affirm himself as a part of the community in which he participates. His self-affirmation is a part of the self-affirmation of the social groups which constitute the society to which he belongs. This seems to imply that there is a collective and not only an individual self-affirmation, and that the collective self-affirmation is threatened by nonbeing, producing collective anxiety, which is met by collective courage. One could say the subject of this anxiety and this courage is a we-self as against the ego- selves who are parts of it. But such an enlargement of the meaning of “self” must be rejected.