In this book, Bryan W. Van Norden examines early Confucianism as a form of virtue ethics and Mohism, an anti-Confucian movement, as a version of consequentialism. The philosophical methodology is analytic, in that the emphasis is on clear exegesis of the texts and a critical examination of the philosophical arguments proposed by each side. Van Norden shows that Confucianism, while similar to Aristotelianism in being a form of virtue ethics, offers different conceptions of “the good life,” the virtues, human nature, (...) and ethical cultivation. (shrink)
This new edition offers expanded selections from the works of Kongzi, Mengzi, Zhuangzi, and Xunzi ; two new works, the dialogues _Robber Zhi_ and _White Horse_; a concise general introduction; brief introductions to, and selective bibliographies for, each work; and four appendices that shed light on important figures, periods, texts, and terms in Chinese thought.
Scholars of early Chinese philosophy frequently point to the nontranscendent, organismic conception of the cosmos in early China as the source of China's unique perspective and distinctive values. One would expect recent works in Confucian ethics to capitalize on this idea. Reviewing recent works in Confucian ethics by P. J. Ivanhoe, David Nivison, R. P. Peerenboom, Henry Rosemont, and Tu Wei-Ming, the author analyzes these new studies in terms of the extent to which their representation of Confucian ethics reflects and (...) is consistent with the view that in early China the cosmos was conceived to be organismic, nontranscendent, and nondualistic. (shrink)
An exceptional contribution to the teaching and study of Chinese thought, this anthology provides fifty-eight selections arranged chronologically in five main sections: Han Thought, Chinese Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Late Imperial Confucianism, and the early Twentieth Century. The editors have selected writings that have been influential, that are philosophically engaging, and that can be understood as elements of an ongoing dialogue, particularly on issues regarding ethical cultivation, human nature, virtue, government, and the underlying structure of the universe. Within those topics, issues of (...) contemporary interest, such as Chinese ideas about gender and the experiences of women, are brought to light. -/- Introductions to each main section provide an overview of the period, while brief headnotes to selections highlight key points. -/- The translations are the works of many distinguished scholars, and were chosen for their accuracy and accessibility, especially for students, general readers, and scholars who do not read Chinese. Special effort has been made to maintain consistency of key terms across translations. -/- Also included are a glossary, bibliography, index of names, and an index locorum of The Four Books. (shrink)
Karen Stohr’s book On Manners argues persuasively that rules of etiquette, though conventional, play an essential moral role, because they “serve as vehicles through which we express important moral values like respect and consideration for the needs, ideas, and opinions of others”. Stohr frequently invokes Kantian concepts and principles in order to make her point. In Part 2 of this essay, I shall argue that the significance of etiquette is better understood using a virtue ethics framework, like that of Confucianism, (...) rather than the language of Kantianism. Within the Chinese tradition, Daoists have frequently been critics of Confucian ritualism. Consequently, in Part 3, I shall consider some possible Daoist critiques of Stohr’s work. (shrink)
This paper introduces the Analects of Kongzi (better known to English-speakers as 'Confucius') to non-specialist readers, and discusses two major lines of interpretation. According to one group of interpretations, the key to understanding the Analects is passage 4.15, in which a disciple says that 'loyalty' and 'reciprocity' together make up the 'one thread' of the Master's teachings. More recently, some interpreters have emphasised passage 13.3, which discusses 'correcting names': bringing words and things into proper alignment. This paper argues that both (...) approaches are mistaken, based on interpolated and unrepresentative passages. The paper closes with a brief suggestion that the Analects reveals a thinker who emphasises cultivating virtues that allow for the appreciation of complex individual contexts, rather than one who seeks systematic generalisations. An afterword to the paper suggests that we should avoid both 'methodological dualism' (which posits a radical incommensurability between Western and Eastern philosophies) and 'the perennial philosophy' (which ignores differences in favour of similarities). (shrink)
Paul Gewirtz has suggested that contemporary Chinese society lacks a shared framework. A Rortian might describe this by saying that China lacks a “final vocabulary” of “thick terms” with which to resolve ethical disagreements. I briefly examine the strengths and weaknesses of Confucianism and Legalism as potential sources of such a final vocabulary, but most of this essay focuses on Zhuangzian Daoism. Zhuangzi 莊子 provides many stories and metaphors that can inspire advocates of political pluralism. However, I suggest that Zhuangzi (...) is ultimately an “ironist” in Rorty’s sense. Many intellectuals assume there is something progressive and liberating about broadly ironic stances like relativism and skepticism. Ethically, though, irony is “the night in which all cows are black”: since it regards all positions as equally undermined, an ironic stance cannot be enlisted in support of tolerance or humanitarianism or in opposition to absolutism or cruelty. (shrink)
Confucius is one of the most influential figures--as historical individual and as symbol--in world history; and the Analects, the sayings attributed to Confucius and his disciples, is a classic of world literature. Nonetheless, how to understand both figure and text is constantly under dispute. Surprisingly, this volume is the first and only anthology on these topics in English. Here, contributors apply a variety of different methodologies (including philosophical, philological, and religious) and address a number of important topics, from Confucius and (...) Western "virtue ethics" to Confucius' attitude toward women to the historical composition of the text of the Analects. Scholars will appreciate the rigor of these essays, while students and beginners will find them accessible and engaging. (shrink)
Let me begin by saying that I am extremely grateful to Sarah Mattice for organizing this symposium on my book, Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto, and to the three reviewers, each of whom read my work with great care and offered feedback that is extremely generous and insightful.1After providing a clear and sympathetic summary of my book, David Kim raises two questions. First, how should the study of what I have called the Less Commonly Taught Philosophies be incorporated into (...) the curriculum of philosophy departments?2 Kim suggests five degrees of incorporation, in order of increasing rigor: 1Make electives on the LCTP available to students in philosophy departments. 2Require for the major or... (shrink)
I am writing because I am disturbed by the apparent policy of many mainstream philosophy journals toward Chinese and comparative philosophy. The assumption seems to be that such work should be confined to the handful of specialist journals. I believe that this is an antiquated and counterproductive policy. Philosophers have recognized for a long time that any well-educated ethicist needs to know something about Aristotle, Kant, and the secondary work published on them. Because of changes in our society and in (...) the world as a whole, the time has come for us to recognize that an ethicist should also know something about Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu and Chu Hsi. (shrink)
Fuller’s critique of my work is based on the anthropological distinction between “functional” and “substantive” interpretations. However, he has used these terms in non-standard ways that may lead to confusion. Furthermore, in either the standard or Fuller’s senses of these terms, he has misdescribed my position.
acedo's article is the first of five in a "Symposium on Citizenship, Democracy, and Education." Macedo follows Rawls (especially Political Liberalism [Columbia University Press, 1993]) in distinguishing "political liberalism" (PL) from "comprehensive liberalism" (CL), and advocating the former. CL defends liberalism based on "a comprehensive liberal ideal of life as a whole centered on autonomy or individuality." (Amy Gutmann and John Dewey are offered as examples of such liberals.) In contrast, PL tries to "put aside such matters as religious truth (...) and the ultimate ideals of human perfection and attempt to justify at least the most basic matters of justice on grounds widely acceptable to reasonable people . . . " (p. 473). Macedo also stresses that PL is distinct from the "politics of difference" (allegedly defended by William Galston in an article in the same symposium), which advocates maximum diversity for its own sake. A "political liberalism with spine" will rule some things out (p. 470). (shrink)
nnas' article is the first of three in a "Symposium on Ancient Ethics." She begins with the observation that ancient ethics are "eudaemonist" in form. That is, they assume "that each of us has a vague and unarticulated idea of an overall or final goal in our life," which we label eudaimonia or happiness, "and the task of ethical theory is to give each person a clear, articulated, and correct account of this overall goal and how to achieve it" (p. (...) 241; Annas defends this generalization, which is controversial as applied to Stoic and Epicurean ethics, in her The Morality of Happiness [Oxford, 1993]). Furthermore, whereas modern ethical theories (e.g., those of Kant and Sidgwick) typically distinguish between "moral reasoning" and "prudential reasoning," ancient ethical theories do not. How come? One "widespread" and "traditional" view (pp. 244, 245) is that ancient ethics assimilate morality to prudence: "ethical theory guides the agent from an intuitive, restrictive view of what is in her interests (money, power) to a more expanded and elevated view (the virtues)" (p. 244). This interpretation is sometimes joined with the claim that the Greeks took for granted what Nicholas White terms "fusionism": the view that individual good is not ultimately distinct from social or collective good (p. 245). However, Annas notes, ancient Greek literature provides ample illustration that "fusionism" was not taken for granted. (shrink)
In just thirteen brief, accessible chapters, this engaging little book takes "absolute beginners" from the most basic questions about the language to reading and understanding selections from classical Chinese philosophical texts and Tang dynasty poetry._ " An outstanding introduction to reading classical Chinese_. Van Norden does a wonderful job of clearly explaining the basics of classical Chinese, and he carefully takes the reader through beautifully chosen examples from the textual tradition. An invaluable work." —Michael Puett, Harvard University.
This dissertation is an investigation of the philosophic psychology of Mengzi , a Chinese Confucian of the 4th century B.C. As such, it is concerned with the role of desires, emotions, and practical reasoning in Mengzi's conception of self-cultivation and ethical flourishing. In chapter 1, I discuss why Mengzi is still worth studying by philosophers, certain hermeneutic issues, and the historical factors that account for some of the characteristic differences between Chinese and Western philosophy. ;In chapter 2, I proceed to (...) problems of philosophic psychology, examining Mengzi's views on desire and its role in both the perfected and developing moral agent. I also contrast Mengzi's attitude toward the role of desires with that of Xunzi in order to bring out what is distinctive of both views. ;Chapter 3 discusses the role of practical reasoning in the Mengzi. I first critique one important interpretation of the role of practical reasoning in the Mengzi--that of Kwong-loi Shun. Shun, developing some ideas implicit in the work of David S. Nivison, argues that Mengzi emphasizes analogical reasoning and consistency in ethical deliberation, but I attempt to demonstrate that the text will not support Shun's reading. I then proceed to offer my own view of Mengzian practical reasoning. I conclude that Mengzi is a sort of intuitionist, but of an interestingly different kind from classic Western intuitionists such as Sidgwick, Moore, and Prichard. ;Finally, in my appendix, I translate and comment upon some quotations which are attributed to Mengzi, but which are not found in the text of the Mengzi as it has come down to us. (shrink)