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The Fractal SelfScience, Philosophy, and the Evolution of Human Cooperation$
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John L. Culliney and David Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824866617

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824866617.001.0001

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Self within World

Self within World

(p.119) 7 Self within World
The Fractal Self

John L. Culliney

David Jones

University of Hawai'i Press

We describe the foundations of the fractal self in relation to the Chinese notion of personal development and enhancement of adeptness in the world and mutualism with the other. This seeking, described in the codified system of Daoism, is a pathway that may progress to the highest level of achievement of such a self: that which defines a sage. The chapter introduces the view that a sage is a fractal self that achieves a peak of intimacy and constructive interaction with the world. We detail the development of human beings on this pathway, emerging beyond the core embodiments of empathy, sympathy, and rudimentary morality observed in apes. The self for the early Chinese was always a being that was embedded in the world and dynamic flow of forces. This self was defined in intimate terms as adaptable and adept, seeking to be a microcosmic contributor to some holistic macrocosm. In this chapter, Daoism leads our thinking on how the fractal self engages with the world. In turn, this way of understanding selfness and its potential to enrich its system from within resonates with discussions of the interactive self of Buddhism and was also in the minds of Pre-Socratic thinkers in the West.

Keywords:   Daoism, sage, wuwei, Laozi, yin and yang, myriad things, Zhuangzi, Buddhism, interdependent arising, Indra’s net, Zen

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