america, exploration
america, free for all
American, ignorance
arts, unique
clothes, attitudes
cool, liberty
creativity, free thought, leaders, literature
Emerson, philosophy
good, nice, need it
great, creativity, bold
hermit, independent, strong
Ideas, Difference
isolated, rational, personal
not being afraid, speaking out
on your own, doing your own thing
personal, freedom, unique
spots, lack of teamwork
western idea, american dream, "be all that you can be"

concours, isolement, réussite
contemporain, mauvais,
critiquer, fortune
égoïsme, lâcheté
égo¨sme, individu
Egoisme, Réussite
égoïsme, solitude
égoïste, nul
états unis
grande ville, USA
mauvais, nécessaire
progrès, égoïsme, profit
réussite, égoïsme
solitude, isolement
USA, argent, égoïsme
égoisme, rancoeur
égoïsme, réalisation
égoïsme, solitude


America is mentioned several times on both sides. On the American side,
the number of responses which view individualism as a beneficial idea
is much greater than the number of negative responses to individualism.
However, on the French side, it's the other way around.

Question: I found that the word "egoism" appears 12 times on
the French side. In France, does "egoism" have a negative meaning?
Also, the word "egoism" is not used frequently in ordinary
conversations in America. What about in France? Is "egoism" often used
in everyday situations?

question is my question too. Does égoïsme mean egocentrism? Does it
have a bad connotation? Why do almost all French students associate it
with individualism?

American students describe individualism through positive words.

both the list for "Individualism" and the list for "Freedom" the US
appears. Yet, in the list for "Individualism" it is clearly in a
negative context (as is seen by considering the other associated words
like "mauvais," "rancoeur" and "égoïsme") while in the list for
"Freedom" it is clearly in a positive context (residing alongside
"égalité, fraternité" etc.). What'd I'd like to more fully understand
is the dynamic between these two views of the US, particularly the fact
that in some sense one cannot obtain freedom without individualism: as
one's own rights are strengthened they, in turn, infringe on the rights
of others. Specifically, the ideas associated with the US related to
freedom must be distinct from the ideas related to individualism, and
this distinction will, perhaps, illuminate the specific balance of lack
of freedom and individualism to which each culture is accustomed.
Therefore knowing these specific ideas might be instructive.

the other MIT students, I observed that individualism has a negative
connation for the student at l'Ecole Polytechnique. For the MIT
students, individualism is generally a good quality because it implies
that people are not just following the crowd or trying to blend in to
the background, but expressing themselves as unique and making their
opinions known. In French, it seems that individualism has the
connotation of "selfish" and considering oneself more important than
the general population. Is there another word in French that means
expressing oneself as an individual that more closely correlates to our
concept of individualism?

reponse a kim kyungmin, il ne faut pas s'arreter au sens brut des mots,
mais aussi s'interesser a leur valeur. Ainsi, la traduction la plus
fidele du mot francais egoisme serait 'selfish' plutot que 'egoism'.
egoism se rapproche plus de egocentrique, alors qu'un egoiste agit dans
le seul but de son interet personnel, aux depends des autres. Il se
rapproche alors de la vision francaise de l'individualiste, qui
privilegie sa reussite proffessionelle aux depend de sa vie familiale
et sentimentale.

Toutefois, le mot individualisme n'est pas exclusivement
pejoratif, et contient l'idee d'oeuvrer pour son epanouissement , de
sortir des sentiers batus. Est-ce que le mot ambition ou epanouissment
personnel ne seait alors pas plus approprie pour traduire en francais
le mot anglais 'individualisme' ?

reponse au poste de Kyungmin Kim, je dirai qu'effectivement
l'individualisme en France est profondement connote. La tradition
sociale du pays implique que meme si la reussite personnelle est
importante, elle ne doit pas se faire aux depends d'autres personnes.
C'est pour cette raison que nous sommes tres attaches au syteme des
classes preparatoires et des grandes ecoles car elles permettent de ne
classer les gens que sur le merite.

D'ailleurs, si etre individualiste n'est pas un compliment, dire a quelqu'un qu'il est egoiste est un reproche, une sanction.

Pourtant egoisme et egocentrisme sont deux choses differentes.
Une personne egoiste ne pense qu'a elle, a son bonheur personnel, en ne
tenant aucunement compte des autres. Une personne egocentrique, quant a
elle, ramene tout a sa personne : les discussions, les caprices...

think the notion of individualism is at the core of the difference
between the american and european way of thinking. Since I come from a
european country but I have lived in the United States for five years,
I'm not really sure where my opinion fits. Anyway, I think
individualism is the concept that the best way to succeed is for
everyone to do the best thing for themselves. As described very vividly
in the books of Ayn Rand (Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged), one's primary
goal in life should be to achieve the best possible level of personal
success, disregarding what others call social goodness. This way, the
most competent and smartest people are the ones who enjoy the better
things in life, which according to the theory of individualism is only
fair. On the other hand, a more "european" way of thinking, which i'll
dare say comes from ancient Greece, is that the most important thing is
the prosperity of society as a whole. An individualist was called an
idiot in ancient Greece, so it's clear what the greek and later
european attitude against individualism is. A simple example that
illustrates the above difference is our response to unemployment or
homelessness. One point of view says that it is the unemployed person's
fault that he doesn't have a job and hence practically refuse any kind
of social welfare. This is basically the case in the United States.
Another point of view, is that every individual is the responsibility
of the organized society and hence there should be a system of social
help towards people who are more unfortunate (and not less competent).
This is basically the case in France, where the unemployment benefits
are much higher than in most countries.

agree with Iordanis that we have a little bit different views of
individualism; however, I think that individualism for americans is
more of being able to succeed for themselves and not have to worry so
much about others. Maybe it is our way of saying we don't want to be
utilitarian but at the same time we still don't want people to rot in
the streets. Individualism means that you don't have to think about the
group first but at the same time it doesn't mean that you have to
ignore everyone else.

Pour Stephanie,

A ta signification d'individualisme, j'associerai plutôt celui
de personnalité. Quelqu'un qui assume sa personnalité, assume aussi ses
opinions et n'hésite pas à les exprimer. Mais, là encore, cette qualité
peut devenir un défaut si elle est poussée à l'extrême. C'est à dire
que même si on est maître de ses opinions, il faut savoir aussi rester
dans certaines conventions pour ne pas être écarté de la société. Car
de nos jours, quelqu'un qui n'a plus d'existence sociale, n'existe plus
vraiment... Je me demande donc si quelqu'un qui est trop individualiste
dans votre sens, transforme ainsi cette qualité en défaut, ou si au
contraire, plus on l'est mieux c'est ?