Open individualism

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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 popular culture[edit]

"The Egg", a short story by Andy Weir, is about a character who finds out that they are every person who has ever existed.[12] The story was adapted into an animation by the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, for its ten-year anniversary.[13]

See also[edit]


  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. p. 129. ISBN 978-0511001147. OCLC 47010639.
  3. ^ Ivry, Alfred (2012), "Arabic and Islamic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 2019-09-07
  4. ^ Barua, Arati, ed. (2017). 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" (PDF). Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. 33 (1): 39–68. doi:10.1080/00201749008602210.
  6. ^ Baba, Meher (2015). The Everything and the Nothing (PDF) (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. ^ Hoyle, Fred (1966). October the First Is Too Late (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0060028459.
  12. ^ Prisco, Giulio (2015-07-18). "A short story about Open Individualist resurrection by Andy Weir, author of The Martian". Turing Church. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  13. ^ "The Egg". YouTube. Kurzgesagt. Retrieved 2019-09-01.

Further reading[edit]



External links[edit]