I've run across this word several times. But it seemed particularly important when I heard it discussed on On the Media on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this past Monday. MacArthur Fellow Louis Hyde describes it as our collective being or self, our public self, how we contain community in our "inside self." It is in contrast to individual and individuality. I think it may describe how we primarily view ourselves—as members of a community whose furtherance is our responsibilty and goal or as individuals, primarily responsible to ourselves.
Raised as we are in what must be one of history's most individualistic societies, we may have difficulty really understanding dividuality.
The definitions are definitely peculiar.
- Separate, distinct.
- Divisible, divided.
- Shared, held in common (with others).
1 and 2 seem quite the opposite of 3. Alternatively, I found:
- Divided, shared, or participated in, in common with others.
That's not a whole lot more clear. P2P, unavailable on Jan. 16 as they are opposing the SOPA legislation, writes: "a physically embodied human subject that is endlessly divisible and reducible to data representations via the modern technologies ..." Going from bad to worse!
However, this website does help, if a wee bit abstruse when you read down its page:
…persons – single actors – are not thought in South Asia to be “individual,” that is, indivisible, bounded units, as they are in much of Western social and psychological theory as well as in common sense. Instead, it appears that persons are generally thought by South Asians to be “dividual” or divisible. To exist, dividual persons absorb heterogeneous material influences. They must also give out from themselves particles of their own coded substances – essences, residues, or other active influences – that may then reproduce in others something of the nature of the persons in whom they have originated.” McKim Marriott Hindu Transactions: Diversity without Dualism
The word may be difficult but I'm pretty sure that it in some sense (maybe just as what I want it to mean) underlies all of what Martin Luther King had to say in the wonderful hour that Amy Goodman and Democracy Now presented on Monday. If you have an hour, I strongly recommend that you listen to this broadcast instead of reading it. You can also download it at iTunes as a video broadcast. It is extraordinarily and so sadly still relevant in 2012.
P.S. You'll be glad to know there is an Atlanta band named DiViDUAL.