Oneness and self‐centeredness in the moral psychology of Wang yangming

Journal of Religious Ethics 40 (1):52-71 (2012)


ABSTRACTRather than “selfishness,” a more accurate and revealing interpretation of Wang's use of siyuis “self‐centeredness.” One of the main goals in Wang's model of moral cultivation was to attain a state devoid of self‐centered desires. Wang relied a great deal on the exercise and cultivation of an emotional identification and feeling of oneness with others. In this paper, I first provide a brief summary of the role of Wang's concept of siyu in his moral psychology. I then examine key passages in Wang's writings that reveal his nuanced understanding of siyu and, along the way, I draw on empirical research in psychology to help illuminate the significance of Wang's view of siyu to his overall model of moral cultivation.

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