Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(1,071 words)

Diverse Chinese traditions contain rich sources for notions of self, individuals, individuality, and individualism. Zhuangzi (4th century BCE) for example, questioned whether the individual owed moral obligations to social institutions, such as the family and state, and advocated individual freedom from the restrictions of public obligations. Zhu Xi (1130-1200) stressed learning for the sake of one's self. The idea of individual self figured prominently in the literature of the May Fourth Movement. Despite the fact that Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism allegedly included…

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Baogang, He, “Individual”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 08 February 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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