Philosophy:Open individualism

From HandWiki

Open individualism is the view in the philosophy of self, according to which there exists only one numerically identical subject, who is everyone at all times. It is a theoretical solution to the question of personal identity, being contrasted with empty individualism, the view that personal identities correspond to a fixed pattern that instantaneously disappears with the passage of time, and with closed individualism, the common view that personal identities are particular to subjects and yet survive over time.


The term was coined by philosopher Daniel Kolak,[1] though this view has been described at least since the time of the Upanishads, in the late Bronze Age; the phrase "Tat tvam asi" meaning "You are that" is an example. Notable people having expressed similar views (in various forms) include the Sufi thinker Aziz al-Nasafi,[2] Muslim Andalusian philosopher Averroes,[3] German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer,[4] American philosopher Arnold Zuboff,[5] Indian mystic Meher Baba,[6] stand-up comedian Bill Hicks,[7] British writer Alan Watts,[8] as well as renowned physicists: Erwin Schrödinger,[9] Freeman Dyson,[10] and Fred Hoyle.[11]

In fiction

Leo Tolstoy in the short story "Esarhaddon, King of Assyria", tells how an old man appears before Esarhaddon and takes the king through a process where he experiences, from a first-person perspective, the lives of humans and non-human animals he has tormented. This reveals to him that he is everyone and that by harming others, he is actually harming himself.[12]

In the science fiction novel October the First Is Too Late, Fred Hoyle puts forward the "pigeon hole theory" which asserts that "each moment of time can be thought of as a pre-existing pigeon hole" and the pigeon hole currently being examined by your consciousness is the present and that the spotlight of consciousness does not have to move in a linear fashion; it could potentially move around in any order.[13] Hoyle considers the possibility that there might be one set of pigeon holes for each person, but only one spotlight, which would mean that the "consciousness could be the same".[11]

"The Egg", a short story by Andy Weir, is about a character who finds out that they are every person who has ever existed.[14] The story was adapted into an animation by the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, for its ten-year anniversary.[15]

See also


  1. Kolak, Daniel (2005). I Am You: The Metaphysical Foundations for Global Ethics. Springer. ISBN 978-1402029998. 
  2. Schrödinger, Erwin (1992). What is Life?: The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 129. ISBN 978-0511001147. OCLC 47010639. 
  3. Ivry, Alfred (2012), Zalta, Edward N., ed., Arabic and Islamic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind (Summer 2012 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University,, retrieved 2019-09-07 
  4. Barua, Arati, ed (2017) (in en). Schopenhauer on Self, World and Morality: Vedantic and Non-Vedantic Perspectives. Springer Singapore. ISBN 978-9811059537. 
  5. Zuboff, Arnold (1990). "One Self: The Logic of Experience". Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 33 (1): 39–68. doi:10.1080/00201749008602210. 
  6. Baba, Meher (2015). The Everything and the Nothing (2nd ed.). Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Sheriar Foundation. ISBN 978-1880619131. 
  7. "Mushroom scene from, American - The Bill Hicks Story". YouTube. May 18, 2014. 
  8. Watts, Alan (1966). The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0394417257. 
  9. Schrödinger, Erwin (1992). What is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521427081. 
  10. Dyson, Freeman J. (1979). Disturbing the Universe (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0060111083. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Hoyle, Fred (1966). October the First Is Too Late (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0060028459. 
  12. Tolstoy, Leo (1906). Twenty-three Tales. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 256–263. 
  13. Webb, Stephen (2017). All the Wonder that Would Be: Exploring Past Notions of the Future. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 162. ISBN 978-3-319-51759-9. OCLC 985702597. 
  14. Prisco, Giulio (2015-07-18). "A short story about Open Individualist resurrection by Andy Weir, author of The Martian" (in en-US). 
  15. "The Egg" (in en). Kurzgesagt. 

Further reading



External links