Advertisement

The Self and Its Good Vary Cross-Culturally: A Dozen Self-variations and Chinese Familial Selves

  • Owen Flanagan
  • Wenqing ZhaoEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

In the first part, we present a taxonomy of a dozen self-variations that appear in the contemporary studies of cross-cultural anthropology, psychology and philosophy. The taxonomy is designed to serve as a general template to analyse cultural variation in views of self, which ranges from the metaphysical self (or no-self) to ideal emotional self. In the second part, we apply three aspects of the taxonomy to analyse a distinctive way that the self is conceived in the Chinese tradition, and its relation to the family and non-family members. In particular, we look at the Chinese notion of the ‘soul’ (hun-po), which informs a unique, family-oriented notion of self. This understanding helps explain the distinctive texture of the Chinese virtue of filial piety that emphasises not only respect and support of the elderly members of the family, but also reproducing children who can carry the family lineage. It also helps us understand certain family-oriented ways of decision-making in the Chinese society.

Keywords

Self Self-variations Family Chinese philosophy Moral psychology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Owen Flanagan thanks the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where he was a Berggruen Fellow in 2016–17, for its support. Both authors thank the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily express the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

References

  1. Ames, R. T., & Rosemont, H., Jr. (2011). Were the early confucians virtuous? In C. Fraser, D. Robins, & T. O’Leary (Eds.), Ethics in early China: An anthology (pp. 17–39). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruner, J. S. (2002). Making stories: Law, literature, life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  3. Chan, H.-M. (2004). Informed consent Hong Kong style: An instance of moderate familism. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 29(2), 195–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark, C. (1997). Misery and company: Sympathy in everyday life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Creel, H. G. (1937). The birth of China. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock.Google Scholar
  6. Descola, P. (1996). The spears of twilight: Life and death in the Amazon Jungle. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  7. Everett, D. L. (2009). Don’t sleep, there are snakes: Life and language in the Amazonian Jungle. London: Profile Books.Google Scholar
  8. Fan, R., & Tao, J. (2004). Consent to medical treatment: The complex interplay of patients, families, and physicians. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 29(2), 139–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fan, R. (2016). DNA, brain, mind, and soul: A confucian perspective. In: Manuscript Presented at the 5th International Workshop on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion, Houston.Google Scholar
  10. Flanagan, O. (2017). Geographies of morals: Varieties of moral possibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Flanagan, O. (1991). Varieties of moral personality: Ethics and psychological realism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Hu, S. (1937). The indianization of China: A case study in cultural borrowing. In Independence, Convergence and Borrowing in Institutions, Thought, and Art (pp. 224–225). Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hampden-Turner, C., & Trompenaars, A. (1993). The seven cultures of capitalism: Value systems for creating wealth in the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. New York: Currency/Doubleday.Google Scholar
  15. Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2–3), 61–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Keillor, Garrison. (1985) Lake Wobegon Days. Viking.Google Scholar
  17. MacIntyre, A. C. (1981). After virtue: A study in moral theory. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  18. MacIntyre, A. C. (1984). After virtue: A study in moral theory (2nd ed.). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  19. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (2010). Cultures and selves: A cycle of mutual constitution. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 420–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miller, J. G. (1984). Culture and the development of everyday social explanation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(5), 961–978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Needdam, J. (1974). Science and civilization in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Nisbett, R. (2004). The geography of thought: How asians and westerners think differently … and why. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ricoeur, P. (1984). Time and narrative. 3 vol. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Shweder, R. A., & Bourne, E. J. (1982). Does the concept of the person vary cross-culturally? In R. A. Shweder, & R. Alan LeVine. Culture theory: Essays on mind, self, and emotion (pp. 158–99). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Strawson, G. (2004). Against narrativity. Ratio, n.s., 17(4), 428–452.Google Scholar
  27. Taylor, S. E. (1989). Positive illusions: Creative self-deception and the healthy mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  28. Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. (1994). Positive illusions and well-being revisited: Separating fact from fiction. Psychology Bulletin, 116(1), 21–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Triandis, H. C., Bontempo, R., Villareal, M. J., Asai, M., & Lucca, N. (1988). Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on self-ingroup relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(2), 323–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tsai, J. L. (2007). Ideal affect cultural causes and behavioral consequences. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(3), 242–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tsai, J. L., Louie, J. Y., Chen, E. E., & Uchida, Y. (2007a). Learning what feelings to desire: Socialization of ideal affect through children’s storybooks. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(1), 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tsai, J. L., Miao, F. F., & Seppala, E. (2007b). Good feelings in christianity and buddhism: Religious differences in ideal affect. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(3), 409–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tsai, J. L., Miao, F. F., Seppala, E., Fung, H. H., & Yeung, D. Y. (2007c). Influence and adjustment goals: Sources of cultural differences in ideal affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1102–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Whitehead, A. N. (1979). Process and reality. Free Press.Google Scholar
  35. Yü, Y.-S. (1987). O Soul, Come Back! A study in the changing conceptions of the soul and afterlife in pre-buddhist China. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 47(2), 363–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yü, Y.-S. (2005). Views of life and death in later Han China (东汉生死观) Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社.Google Scholar
  37. Zhao, W. (2015). A confucian worldview and family-based informed consent: A case of concealing illness from the patient in China. In R. Fan (ed.), Family-oriented informed consent (pp. 231–43). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Center for Comparative PhilosophyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations