Charles Taylor says one basis of modern individualism is the Christian idea of vocation.
Of course an idea is not simply Christian, you find it in all the great spiritual traditions where there’s some kind of inner journey. But the particular form it takes in Christianity has been very, very important for modern individuation. Because of the idea, the central idea, of the … vocation – that each person is called in their own way, right, and so … I mean, St Paul speaks about many, many gifts (charismata), right – many, many gifts but one Spirit. So there’s one Spirit calling, but it’s calling me to be this and calling you to be that.
So right away you have a focus on what I am called on to do, and I’m not called on to do that other thing because that’s somebody else’s calling, I’m called upon to respond in my own way. That is one of the crucial bases of modern individualism. And it emerges finally in the contemporary period in this epic of authenticity, that I’m called upon to be myself, to be what I can do.