Full Heart – No Self: Being A Nobody with Robert Fuller, Ph.D.

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We all want to "be somebody." But often, those who become somebody become statues, trapped in an identity that doesn't allow them to change or grow. Robert Fuller talks about his own struggle with being a nobody between periods of high recognition and status. He has learned to respect the "nobody" inside himself because "the nobody is actually the creative fellow, while the somebody is just the performer. When you're somebody that seems to become your core identity--but it's not; it's really just a set of clothes you wear for awhile." Fuller broadens the dialogue to encompass the rampant "rankism" in our culture, from politics to working life, to our basic family structure. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Robert Fuller, Ph.D. is a physicist and former president of Oberlin College. He has consulted with Indira Gandhi, met with Jimmy Carter regarding the President's Commission on World Hunger, and worked to defuse the Cold War in Russia when it was known as the USSR. As Fuller reflected on his career he realized that he had been, at different times in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns into “Nobodyland” led him to identify rankism - the abuse of the power inherent in rank - and ultimately to write the book Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. He has become a recognized leader of the dignity movement to overcome rankism and keynoted a Dignity for All conference hosted by the President of Bangladesh. His many other accomplishments include co-authoring the text book Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics.

Robert Fuller’s books include:

To view a video about the work of Robert W. Fuller click here, or go to his website: www.robertworksfuller.com.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What it means to be a nobody versus a somebody
  • How to find your passion
  • Our preoccupation with celebrities
  • How you may be abusing yourself without even knowing it
  • Cloaking rankism in the aura of spirituality
  • The main task of the 21st century
Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 10/30/1997      Program Number: 2672