A concise and accessible introduction to the evolution of the concept of moral self-cultivation in the Chinese Confucian tradition, this volume begins with an explanation of the pre-philosophical development of ideas central to this concept, followed by an examination of the specific treatment of self cultivation in the philosophy of Kongzi, Mengzi, Xunzi, Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming, Yan Yuan and Dai Zhen. In addition to providing a survey of the views of some of the most influential Confucian thinkers on an (...) issue of fundamental importance to the tradition, Ivanhoe also relates their concern with moral self-cultivation to a number of topics in the Western ethical tradition. Bibliography and index are included. (shrink)
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)
The idea that the self is inextricably intertwined with the rest of the world—the “oneness hypothesis”—can be found in many of the world’s philosophical and religious traditions. Oneness provides ways to imagine and achieve a more expansive conception of the self as fundamentally connected with other people, creatures, and things. Such views present profound challenges to Western hyperindividualism and its excessive concern with self-interest and tendency toward self-centered behavior. This anthology presents a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary exploration of the nature and implications (...) of the oneness hypothesis. While fundamentally inspired by East and South Asian traditions, in which such a view often is critical to philosophical approach, this collection draws upon religion, psychology, and Western philosophy, as well as sociology, evolutionary theory, and cognitive neuroscience. Contributors trace the oneness hypothesis through the works of East Asian and Western thinkers and traditions, including Confucianism. Mohism, Daoism, Buddhism, Platonism, Zhuangzi, Kant, James, and Dewey. They intervene in debates over ethics, cultural difference, identity, group solidarity, and the positive and negative implications of metaphors of organic unity. Challenging dominant traditional views that presume the proper scope of the mind stops at the boundaries of the skin and skull, The Oneness Hypothesis shows that a more relational conception of the self is not only consistent with contemporary science but has the potential to lead to greater happiness and well-being for both individuals and the larger wholes of which they are parts. (shrink)
Contrary to what several prominent scholars contend, a number of important early Confucians ground their ethical claims by appealing to the authority of tian, Heaven, insisting that Heaven endows human beings with a distinctive ethical nature and at times acts in the world. This essay describes the nature of such appeals in two early Confucian texts: the Lunyu (Analects) and Mengzi (Mencius). It locates this account within a larger narrative that begins with some of the earliest conceptions of a supreme (...) deity in China. The essay concludes by noting some similarities and differences between these early Confucian accounts and more familiar views commonly shared by monotheists. (shrink)
This paper argues that from an ethical point of view tolerance, which is simply one of a number of possible responses to ethical pluralism, is not an acceptable ideal. It fails to acknowledge and appreciate the good in other forms of life and thereby does not adequately respect the people who live these lives. Toleration limits the range of goods we might appreciate in our own lives and in the lives of those we care most about, and it tends to (...) lead to a number of deformations or personal failures of character. In place of tolerance, we should embrace ethical promiscuity—a view that not only acknowledges ethical pluralism but also offers good reasons to celebrate this state of affairs. (shrink)
Early Confucian ethics can best be understood as character consequentialism, an ethical theory concerned with the effects actions have upon the cultivation of virtues and which concentrates on certain psychological goods, particularly certain kinship relationships which it regards not only as intrinsically but also instrumentally valuable, as the source of more general social virtues. According to character consequentialism, the way to maximize the good is to maximize the number of virtuous individuals in society, but because human virtues cannot be cultivated (...) by pursuing their good consequences directly, they must be sought as expressions of a life ideal. This ideal entails developing one's nature to fulfill Heaven's design. (shrink)
Confucian Reflections: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times is about the early Chinese Confucian classic the "Analects" Lunyu , attributed to the founder of the Confucian tradition, Kongzi and who is more commonly referred to as "Confucius" in the West. Philip J. Ivanhoe argues that the Analects is as relevant and important today as it has proven to be over the course of its more than 2000 year history, not only for the people who live in East Asian societies but for (...) all human beings. The fact that this text has inspired so many talented people for so long, across a range of complex, creative, rich, and fascinating cultures offers a strong prima facie reason for thinking that the insights the Analects contains are not bound by either the particular time or cultural context in which the text took shape. (shrink)
This essay seeks to introduce representative beliefs, attitudes, policies, and practices from the Confucian tradition concerning the ethical aspects of abortion and bring these into productive engagement with some of the best and most influential philosophical accounts of abortion available in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. The essay begins with a discussion of the ethical dimensions of abortion and a critical review of two of the best and most influential contemporary Western accounts; it then moves on to describe and discuss an alternative (...) Confucian approach. The aims are to demonstrate the resources within the Confucian tradition for providing a distinctive philosophical account of abortion and to show that comparative work has the potential to augment, amend, and ultimately enrich our understanding of this morally challenging aspect of human life. (shrink)
Scholars in the humanities and social sciences are keenly aware of and often deeply engaged with more global or cosmopolitan approaches to their respective fields; nevertheless, theories of cosmopolitanism remain exceedingly controversial and arise exclusively from Western philosophical sources. Recently, Martha Nussbaum presented a contemporary Western liberal cosmopolitan theory and sought to integrate it with a call for multicultural education. In this essay, I describe, analyze, and criticize Nussbaum's conception of cosmopolitanism and argue that it does not sit comfortably with (...) her laudable advocacy of multicultural education. I then draw upon resources within the Confucian tradition to sketch two alternative conceptions of cosmopolitanism, which I argue are both more powerful than what Nussbaum proposes and better support the kind of multicultural education she so eloquently advocates. (shrink)
This article explores some of the ways in which historical writings can play a substantial role in the development of ethical sensibilities and makes the more general point that since human beings are unique in understanding themselves as historical beings and value how they and others appear in historical perspective, an understanding and sense of history must play a role in an adequate account of ethics. The main focus of the article is a description and analysis of the views of (...) the Chinese philosopher Zhang Xuecheng ç« å¸èª . After presenting an account of Zhangâs ideas concerning the relationship between history and ethics, I argue that versions of Zhangâs central claims still have the potential to make significant contributions to contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Mengzi is known for his sophisticated views on human nature and moral psychology. These essays explore a range of philosophical ideas at the core of his moral philosophy and relate them to both traditional Chinese and current Western philosophical concerns. The introduction provides historical background and philosophical context, and discusses each of the selections alongside Mengzi's work as a whole.
This essay explores some of the similarities and differences between the views of several Western and Chinese thinkers on the metaphysical status of moral qualities and how we come to perceive and appreciate them. It then uses this comparative analysis to identify and address some remaining problems in regard to these two issues. The essay offers a brief sketch of and introduction to the history of the study of moral qualities and moral perception in modern Western philosophy and takes the (...) views of John McDowell, W ang Yangming, and Mencius as the primary focus of its comparative component. It seeks to understand the views of these thinkers by a careful examination of the metaphors as well as the arguments they employ. (shrink)
The descriptive aim of this essay is to sort out and distinguish among some different hermeneutical approaches to Chinese philosophical texts and to make clear that the approach that one employs carries with it important implications about the kind of intellectual project one is pursuing. The primary normative claim is that in order to be doing research in the field of traditional Chinese philosophy, one must make a case for one’s interpretation as representing philosophical views that have been held by (...) Chinese thinkers and that making such a case is a distinctive type of intellectual activity analogous to making a case in a court of law. In addition to this conceptual or methodological point, I argue that the interpretation of Chinese philosophical texts should make clear and take into account the special role that commentary has played throughout the tradition. (shrink)
With contributions by some of the best and most significant contemporary Korean philosophers, this important volume provides an overview of the different debates, problems, figures and periods that make up traditional Korean Buddhist and Confucian thought. The book highlights the richness and diversity of Korean philosophy as a vital and ongoing philosophical endeavour.
This volume serves both as an introduction to the thought of Mengzi and Wang Yangming and as a comparison of their views. By examining issues held in common by both thinkers, Ivanhoe illustrates how the Confucian tradition was both continued and transformed by Wang Yangming, and shows the extent to which he was influenced by Buddhism. Topics explored are: the nature of morality; human nature; the nature and origin of wickedness; self cultivation; and sagehood. In addition to revised versions of (...) each of these original chapters, Ivanhoe includes a new chapter on Kongzi's view of the Way. (shrink)
This essay describes and compares three attempts to provide accounts of the nature of historical consciousness, along with accompanying explanations of how one comes to have historical knowledge. It explores, compares, and contrasts the views of the late Qing dynasty Chinese philosopher Zhang Xuecheng 章學誠 and two Western philosophers – R.G. Collingwood and Louis O. Mink . These three thinkers all present historical understanding as a distinctive type of knowledge and share the aim of defending the discipline of history as (...) a special, independent field of intellectual endeavor. Aside from analyzing these aspects of their respective theories, this essay aims to stimulate extensive and nuanced comparisons between Chinese and more recent Western forms of historical consciousness. While the comparison presented here is but one way forward, it not only seeks to offer specific insights generated by the comparative project but also to set forth a range of themes worthy of future study. For example, the analysis presented here shows that Zhang’s reflections on how historians relate to the past can contribute to current discussions of epistemic virtues. (shrink)
This essay offers an introduction to Jeong Yakyong’s ethical philosophy as revealed by his commentary on the Mengzi. Following Mengzi, Dasan insisted that the Confucian Way was grounded in the will of Heaven but looked back to early views about the Lord on High and described ethical life in terms of an everyday, natural order decreed by the Lord on High. Not only did he see a wide range of human emotions as indispensable and central to the good life, he (...) also insisted that Heaven and the Way must be understood in terms of their manifestations in this world. (shrink)
Zhang Xuecheng has primarily been read as a philosopher of history. This volume presents him as an ethical philosopher with a distinctive understanding of the aims and methods of Confucian self-cultivation. Offered in English translation for the first time, this collection of Zhang's essays and letters should challenge our current understanding of this Qing dynasty philosopher. _On Ethics and History_ also contains translations of three important essays written by Tang-dynasty Confucian Han Yu and shows how Zhang responded to Han's earlier (...) works. Those with an interest in ethical philosophy, religion, and Chinese thought and culture will find still relevant much of what Zhang argued for in his own day. (shrink)
This work concerns the oneness hypothesis--the view, found in different forms and across various disciplines, that we and our welfare are inextricably intertwined with other people, creatures, and things--and its implications for conceptions of the self, virtue, and human happiness.