The study of the self has prompted many publications in the West in the last generation, but few studies examine the contrasting notions of the self in Asia and the West. In the West, the development of the self is regarded as essential to psychological growth and to spiritual health; in the East, however, the annihilation of the self is recommended as the ideal of sagacity and wisdom. In an attempt to make sense of conflicting notions of the self, we develop a schema, a declension of the self, into first-, second-, and third-person perspectives, and we distinguish between the subjective self, which sees the world through a dominant consciousness, and the objective self, which regards itself merely as part of all phenomena. Rousseau's Confessions and Wordsworth's The Prelude, for example, of first-person subjective autobiographies; Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and Lord Chesterfield's Letters are examples of Second-person subjective self-portraits; while Henry Adams's The Education of Henry Adams would represent Third-person subjective depictions of the self. Asian self-portraits, like traditional Chinese poetry, or Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu's Diaries, tend to be first-person objective self-portraits. In the analysis, one hopes to establish a neutral basis on which to compare Eastern and Western notions of self.
Eugene Chen EOYANG is Professor Emeritus of English, Translation, Humanities, and General Education at Lingnan University in Hong Kong as well as Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and of East Asian Languages & Cultures at Indiana University in the U. S. With a B. A. from Harvard College and an M. A. from Columbia University in English literature, he earned his Ph.D in comparative literature from Indiana University. He was a cofounder of the journal, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), and numbers among his publications, The Transparent Eye: Reflections on Translation, Chinese Literature, and Comparative Poetics (Hawaii), Coat of Many Colors: Reflections on Diversity by a Minority of One (Beacon Press) 'Borrowed Plumage': Polemical Essays on Translation (Rodopi), Two-Way Mirrors: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Glocalization (Lexington Books) and The Selected Poems of Ai Qing (Foreign Languages Press/Indiana University Press). His translations have appeared in Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry edited by Irving Lo and Wu-chi Liu (Indiana University Press). He was elected President of the American Comparative Literature Association from 1995-1997. He was chair of the Intercultural Studies Committee of the International Comparative Literature Association from 1997 to 2004, and he was Vice President of the Fedération Internationale des Langues and Littératures Modernes (FILLM) in 2000-2006. He has been admitted as a Fellow to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce, and Merchandise. His book on comparative literature, The Province and Premise of Creativity: Why Comparative Literature Matters, was published in 2012 by Continuum Books. He is publishing Errors and Infelicities: A Workbook for Chinese Students of English. His latest project is a manuscript on higher education, Lighting a Fire: What Higher Education Has Been and What It Should Be.