Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Sarah A. Mattice

Second Advisor

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler

Third Advisor

Dr. Erin Gilson

Department Chair

Dr. Mitchell R. Haney

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


The goal of this thesis is to influence a re-evaluation of self conceptions in America in order to influence an alternative relational understanding of one’s self and others. This thesis begins based on the premise that individualism is a prominent aspect of American societies meaning its member’s understandings of their selves are self-centered, often non-empathetic, and in general more concerned with their own lives than that of others. The first half of this thesis is dedicated analyzing the American situation through an analysis of the sources of individualism and proving that individualism is actually an illusion that individuals falsely believe in. American Pragmatists John Dewey and George Herbert Mead are primarily discussed to offer a more socially oriented understanding of the self that begins the process of this thesis in defending a relational model of selfhood. The second half of this thesis introduces Ancient Chinese philosophy where the relationally constituted model of self is thoroughly fleshed out. An analysis of Confucian and Daoist philosophy is given to explain those traditions unique vocabulary and drastic differences from traditional Western theories of morality and self-understanding. The third half of this thesis uses an hybrid self conception derived from a combination of Pragmatist and Chinese thought to argue the Philosophy For Children (P4C) pedagogical model is the medium in which Americans can learn to re-evaluate their selves starting with educating their children. P4C is shown to be itself a model of relationality where children begin from younger ages to be more other-focused, empathetic, and communally involved.