The focus of my proposal is the oneness hypothesis and its implications for ethics, religion, psychology and political theory. A number of East Asian thinkers, as well as some in the West, argue that in various ways the self is inextricably intertwined with or part of the rest of the world. While such views often are described in terms of a “loss” of self or autonomy, they are more accurately and helpfully understood as arguments for or ways to achieve a more expansive conception of the self, a self that is seen as intimately connected with other people, creatures, and things. The implications for such a view are quite remarkable and directly and profoundly concern accounts of the self that are found in ethics, religion, psychology and political theory. The more expansive view of the self that is part of the oneness hypothesis challenges widespread and uncritically accepted views about the strong, some would say, hyper-individualism that characterizes many contemporary Western views. The aim of my project is to describe the oneness hypothesis, evaluate its plausibility, and explore some of its major implications for ethics, religion, and psychology.

Outputs:

1) Two anthologies on the oneness hypothesis: one on philosophy and religion, one on ethics and psychology.

2) One single-authored monograph on East Asian Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Human Happiness

Outcomes:

This project will generate important new lines of research in philosophy, religious studies, psychology, political theory, and other fields, by providing theoretical frameworks and empirical data supporting a profoundly different conception of the self and its relation to other people, creatures, and things. Consider environmental ethics or political theory from a view of the self as inextricably connected with and partly constituted by its relationships with other people, creatures, and things. These are topics I and others shall pursue after this initial exploration of oneness.