The father of modern philosophy, René Descartes, made assumptions that have so saturated Western culture since his time that few people even realize the premises they have accepted. Descartes’s presumptions are part of the cultural air we now breathe. In this chapter, we will explore a problem with that cultural air—a mistake about the nature of the self that has infected modern leadership and self-help theories. That mistake is the widely accepted conception of the self as an inherently separate and isolated entity independent from others. As we will explain, such a “self” doesn’t actually exist. People are at once independent and dependent, both alone and fundamentally together, at the same time influencing others and ...

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