Madness is something rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. (Nietzsche, 1886)
The general idea of this quote is quite simple. We happen to find ourselves in a society where, if every member of said society were to be examined and tested, we would find him or her to be relatively sane, rational and good in nature. However, if we put all of these people in a group, and examine how this gathering would function collectively, we would find such erratic behaviour and insanity among this group that we would, very likely, be frightened by these results.
To quote Jeffrey Kluger from TIME magazine: “If the entire human species were a single individual, that person would long ago have been declared mad. The insanity would not lie in the anger and darkness of the human mind—though it can be a black and raging place indeed. And it certainly wouldn't lie in the transcendent goodness of that mind—one so sublime; we fold it into a larger "soul."
It is evident, however that when humans are put together in groups, parties, and ages, they will exhibit cases of both extreme good and extreme evil that they would never display on their own. It is really therefore necessary to ask ourselves: “how do we define insanity in a collective group?”
Due to the fact that we are unable to bring the entire human species to a psychiatrist and have it tested for insanity, we must ask ourselves how to define this through reasoning.
One of many types of insanity is schizophrenia, which often results in delusions, and auditory hallucinations, such as many voices talking in one’s head. This could symbolize our society, for we live in a world where there are almost always at least two groups of thought about significant issues (abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, war), symbolizing a collective being which is always disagreeing and arguing with itself. As Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided upon itself cannot stand.”
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