Unum Noris Omnes

The view set forth in Two Ages on the difference between the sociality of the crowd or public and genuine community is further confirmed and given its most incisive expression in a journal entry from 1850:

In the 'public' and the like the single individual is nothing; there is no individual; the numerical is the constituting form and the law for the coming into existence of a generatio aequivoca [spontaneous generation]; detached from the 'public' the single individual is nothing, and in the public he is, more basically understood, really nothing at all.

In community the single individual is; the single individual is dialectically decisive as the presupposition for forming community, and in community the single individual is qualitatively something essential and can at any moment become higher than 'community', specifically, as soon as 'the others' fall away from the idea. The cohesiveness of community comes from each one's being a single individual, and then the idea; the connectedness of a public or rather its disconnectedness consists in the numerical character of everything. Every single individual in community guarantees the community; the public is a chimera. In community the single individual is a microcosm who qualitatively reproduces the cosmos; here, in a good sense, it holds true that unum noris omnes [if you know one, you know all]. In a public there is no single individual and the whole is nothing; here it is impossible to say unum noris omnes, for here there is no: one. 'Community' is certainly more than a sum; but it is truly a sum of ones; the public is nonsense: a sum of negative ones, of ones who are not ones, who become ones through the sum instead of the sum becoming a sum of the ones. (JP iii. 2952, translation modified)

Here Kierkegaard reaffirms the notion of unum noris omnes introduced earlier in The Concept of Anxiety. In that work, we may recall, this expression was used to assert the solidarity of Adam and the race with regard to hereditary sin; here it is seen as providing the basis for genuine community, which affirms the individual in contrast to the crowd and the numerical.13 As Kierkegaard continues to reflect on the concept of the individual in relation to the numerical in his late journals, he associates the deepest fall of the human race with the fact that 'there are no individualities any more, but in a wretched sense everyone has become two' (JP iii. 2993). Turning the tables on Marx, who regarded religion as the opiate of the people, he further suggests that it is the numerical which has a drugging effect upon people, destroying the human spirit as a result:

... the numerical transfers a human being to an exalted state just as opium does— and then he is tranquilized, tranquilized by the tremendous trustworthiness of millions. And yet in truth millions are just as untrustworthy, entirely just as untrustworthy as one. But one does not have the drugging effect that millions have—and thus it is clear to see, one is entirely trustworthy. That is, 'millions' transfer a human being into a drugged state; he sinks under the force of numbers; he expires qua spirit... (JP iii. 2980, translation modified)

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