Towards Moral and Authentic Generalization: Humanity, Individual Human Beings and Distortion


  • Nigel Rapport Anthropological and Philosophical Studies, The University of St. Andrews, Scotland



Generalization, Cosmopolitanism, Individuality, Humanity, Representation, Distortion


The article treats the issue of generality. How may one conceive of the relationship between the uniqueness of individuality and the commonality of the human (species and society) without reduction? Can generalization be made moral – es-chewing stereotypes in society – and can it be made authentic – enacting a human science which treats the individual as a thing-in-itself? Simmel’s seminal inter-vention was to see generality as a necessary kind of distortion. In contrast, this article offers rational models of the one and the whole which expect to retain the uniqueness of the one; and it suggests characteristics of human embodiment (ca-pacities, potentialities) that speak to individuality and generality at the same time. The article ends with a reconsideration of distortion as a humane artistic represen-tation, by way of the work of Stanley Spencer.


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How to Cite

Rapport, N. (2013) “Towards Moral and Authentic Generalization: Humanity, Individual Human Beings and Distortion”, Culture Unbound, 4(4), pp. 661–678. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.124661.



Theme: Objectification, Measurement and Standardization