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LESSON 4 – The Self in Western and Eastern Thoughts

BUDDHISM – it explains the Self is seen as an illusion
In this lesson, we will look at religious beliefs born out of ignorance, of trying to hold and
and political philosophies that greatly control things, or human-centered needs, thus,
influenced the mindset of each nation or the self is also the source of all these sufferings
culture. (Ho 1995). It is therefore the quest to forget
about the self, forget the cravings of the self,
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE SELF break the attachments you have with the world.
Taoism Thus self or the individual is not focus of the
Buddhism aforementioned Asian or Eastern Philosophies
or beliefs.
CONFUCIANISM – Confucianism can be seen as a CODE
OF ETHICAL CONDUCT of how one should Confucianism and Taoism will situate the self within a
properly act according to their relationship with bigger context. In striving a better person, one
other people. does not create a self above other people or
nature but a self that is beneficial to his
It also focused on having a harmonious social community as well as in harmony with
life. Therefore, the identity and self-concept of everything else.
the individual are interwoven with identity and
status of his/her community or culture, sharing WESTERN BELIEFS
as well as its failures (Ho 1995).
The Western thoughts looks at the world in dualities
SELF CULTIVATION – is seen as the ULTIMATE PURPOSE wherein you are distinct from the other person,
OF LIFE but the characteristics of a CHUN-TZU – the creator is separate from the object he
a man of virtue or noble character, is still created, in which the self is distinguished and
embedded in his social relationships (Ho 1995). acknowledged (Wolter 2012). On the other
hand, the Eastern perspective sees the other
THE CULTIVATION SELF OF CONFUCIANISM – is what person as part of yourself as well as the things
some scholars call a “subdued self” wherein you may create, a drama in which everyone is
personal needs are repressed (subdued) for the interconnected with their specific roles (Wolter
good of many, making Confucian society also 2012).
hierarchical for the purpose of maintaining
order and balance (Ho 1995). Gleithman, Gross and Reisberg - Evaluation of
the self also differs as Americans would
TAOISM – the second Philosophy. It is the living in the highlight their personal achievements while
way of the Tao or the Universe. However, Asians would rather keep a low profile as
Taoism rejects having one definition of what the promoting the self can be seen as boastfulness
Tao is and one can only state clues of what it is that disrupts social relationships.
as they adopt a free-flowing, relative, unitary,
as well as paradoxical view of almost The Western Culture is what we would call an
everything. individual culture since their focus on the
person. Asian Culture, on the other hand, is
Taoism rejects the hierarchy and strictness called a collectivistic culture as the group and
brought by Confucianism and would prefer a social relations that is given more importance
simple lifestyle and its teachings thus aim to than individual needs and wants.
describe how to attain that life (Ho 1995).
Eastern or oriental person look after the
SELF – is not just an extension of the family or the welfare of their groups and values cooperation.
community, it is part of the universe, one of the The would also be more compromising and they
forms and manifestations of the Tao (Ho 1995). tend to go around the bush in explaining,
hoping that the other person would “feel what
THE IDEAL SELF IS SELFLESSNESS but this is not they really want to say (Qingxue 2003).
forgetting about the self, it is living a balanced
life with society and nature being open and Westerners also emphasizes more on the value
accepting to change, forgetting about of equality even if they see that the individual
prejudices and egocentric ideas and thinking can rise above anything else.
about equality as well as complementary
among human beings (Ho 1995). In case of the Philippines, we can also consider
the colonization experience for difference and
similarities with our Asian Neighbors.