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Individualism in Early ChinaHuman Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics$
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Erica Fox Brindley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833862

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833862.001.0001

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(p.121) Chapter Six Conclusion
Individualism in Early China

Erica Fox Brindley

University of Hawai'i Press

This concluding chapter summarizes key themes and presents some final thoughts. This book outlined a variety of beliefs that support the power and agency of the individual in one way or another, as well as a widespread belief in the importance of universal conformism to the greater cosmos, which appears to have been closely linked to the formation of an explicit form of individualism. By discussing early Chinese views on human agency and the self in terms of cosmic and holistic individualism, it is hoped that readers will withdraw their commitment to a narrow, historically specific meaning of the term and embrace it as a theoretically powerful and useful tool in cross-cultural comparison. The concept of individualism as a hermeneutic device can probe any culture and historical context for beliefs relating to the self-determining powers and personal authorities of individuals. When applied to the context of early China, it shows that there were many authors who supported a belief that the individual could and should rely on his or her own powers of self-determination and spiritual fulfillment in perceiving of and acting in the world.

Keywords:   individualism, human agency, individual agency, universal conformism, cosmos

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