Michael Ing's The Dysfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism is the first monograph in English about the Liji--a text that purports to be the writings of Confucius' immediate disciples, and part of the earliest canon of Confucian texts called ''The Five Classics,'' included in the canon several centuries before the Analects. Ing uses his analysis of the Liji to show how early Confucians coped with situations where their rituals failed to achieve their intended aims. In contrast to most contemporary (...) interpreters of Confucianism, Ing demonstrates that early Confucian texts can be read as arguments for ambiguity in ritual failure. (shrink)
This book is about the necessity, and even value, of vulnerability in human experience. In it, Michael Ing brings early Chinese texts into dialogue with questions about the ways in which meaningful things are vulnerable to powers beyond our control; and more specifically, how relationships with meaningful others might compel tragic actions.
What are biological species? Aristotelians and Lockeans agree that they are natural kinds; but, evolutionary theory shows that neither traditional philosophical approach is truly adequate. Recently, Michael Ghiselin and David Hull have argued that species are individuals. This claim is shown to be against the spirit of much modern biology. It is concluded that species are natural kinds of a sort, and that any 'objectivity' they possess comes from their being at the focus of a consilience of inductions.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better to be immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Since Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions first appeared, David Benatar's distinctive anthology designed to introduce students to the key existential questions of philosophy has won a devoted following among users in a variety of upper-level and even introductory courses.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better if we were immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Life, Death, and Meaning brings together key readings, primarily by English-speaking philosophers, on such 'big questions.'.
In Moral Exemplars in the Analects, Amy Olberding offers a self-reflexive and thought-provoking interpretation of the Analects. Scholars of China will find her book valuable in that it provides a holistic reading of the Analects that preserves the tensions in the text. Ethicists will find it valuable in that it furthers discussion on the role of emulating paradigmatic figures in moral development.Olberding characterizes her project as an attempt to "discern a governing logic that renders the Analects' compelling moral sensibility intelligible (...) as moral theory" (p. 1). The difficulty of interpreting the Analects, Olberding explains, is that the text does not offer an explicit moral theory. Instead it reads more like .. (shrink)
The "Tangong Shang" chapter of the Liji provides a brief account of Confucius performing certain burial rites for his deceased parents. After finishing one portion of the rites, something awful occurs—heavy rains fall, causing the grave to collapse. Confucius' demonstration of reverence through the performance of these burial rites is thwarted; but whose fault is it that the grave collapsed? Could Confucius have prevented this failure? In this essay it is argued that contrary to most contemporary interpretations, unpreventable failures in (...) ritual were causes of concern for the authors of early Confucian texts because they believed that meaningful aspects of life were vulnerable to these failures, and because they found themselves occasionally unable to recognize a clear distinction between preventable and unpreventable failures in ritual. This essay provides a persuasive reading of an early Confucian text that preserves rather than resolves the ambiguity between preventable and unpreventable failures in ritual. It argues for an openness to a tragic reading of early Confucian ritual theory. Contemporary interpreters, for the most part, have neglected such a reading; yet in the worldview of the Liji unpreventable failures in ritual were a real, yet uncertain, possibility. (shrink)
This essay elaborates on my essay, “Confucius’ Complaints and the Analects’ Account of the Good Life,” responding to issues and criticisms raised by Michael Ing and Manyul Im. Ing’s and Im’s critiques most invite reflection on regret, both as it might situate in Confucius’ own life and as it could feature more broadly in developed moral maturity. I consider two modes of regret: regret concerning compromises of conscience and end-of-life regret. The latter can naturally include elements of the former, (...) but may nonetheless have special features not exhausted by it. I argue that the model of Confucius is consistent with versions of both of these forms of regret while also acknowledging that where the Analects is concerned, much of what we might say about regret will inevitably be somewhat speculative. The essay thus dwells in some of the ambiguities suggested by the Analects. (shrink)
Michael Baxandall was probably the most important art historian of his generation, not just in Britain but in the world. In a series of books published between 1971 and 2003 he kept expanding the frontiers of the discipline, introducing new topics, new ways of writing, and new explanatory models, always demanding of himself and his readers an undissembling clarity of thought and expression. If art history is now a field that can hold its own with more established areas of (...) the humanities, it is largely because Baxandall had a talent to transmit to others through the printed page the powerful intellectual resources he had built up through tireless inward reflection. These resources he applied with equal engagement to Italian Renaissance art criticism, German wood sculpture, the understanding of shadows in the 18th century, the planning of the Forth Bridge, and the functions of the neural structure of the retina. (shrink)