I am me. Without me – my experienced self-awareness – the world would not exist. This applies to each and every one of us: “I” is the most personal and most common human experience ever. I am unique – like everyone else.
But “I” is not a static entity. The way in which human beings experience themselves has changed radically throughout history. The modern individual, with self-esteem and self intrinsic value, is a historical discovery with roots in the antiquity, which grew during the Renaissance and blossomed in modern times. And it has always been threatened by massive opposition.
Peter Normann Waage follows the emergence of the individual: in philosophy from Socrates to Sartre, in literature from Homer to Harry Potter. At the same time, “I” is his personal perspective that reflects his own development and his defence of individual dignity. Waage intends the title to have a dual meaning: The book is both a story about the individual self-awareness in the West and his own story. One of the lines Waage follows leads both to the individual and to its contrast: totalitarianism. He also seeks to show how the modern, laissez-faire market liberalism consists of another sneaking threat to the individuals — the temptation to enjoy themselves to death — and a starting point for the empowerment of the independent and responsible individual.