Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

Jim Garrison, Joy T. DeSensi, Miriam Levering, Diana Moyer


The relationship between 'individual' and 'community', or others, is a focal concern in philosophy both in China and in the Euro-western world. Individualism and collectivism, the two entirely different traditions of philosophy that describe a different relationship between 'individual' and 'community', have a long polemic history and are still practiced in our everyday lives. They play an essential role in schools in terms of the way teachers teach our children and relationships children develop with their classmates. This dissertation is a philosophical comparative effort to explore the conceptions of individual and community, and the relationship between the two in Confucian Grand Union and Deweyan democracy. Confucius's and Dewey's shared dedications to a philosophy of social engagement, philosophy of education, and social organism provide a theoretical ground for them to engage in a philosophical conversation. The researcher's perspective as a philosopher and cultural studies scholar is analytical, pragmatist, and social feminist. The rejection of private/public and individual/social dichotomies in both Confucius's and Dewey's work is a hope for human unity that involves taking the human society as an organism and helps actualize the best possibilities of individuals as well as the human community. This theory of human unity with an emphasis on a pluralistic relational view of human community has much to offer for schools and will contribute significantly to the improvement of educational opportunities for all people. The implications for schools are developed in this work.

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