The present study addressed two related problems: The status of the concept of the soul in folk psychological conceptualizations across cultures, and the nature of mind-body dualism within Chinese folk psychology. We compared folk intuitions about three concepts – mind, body, and soul – among adults from China and Poland. The questionnaire study comprised of questions about the functional and ontological nature of the three entities. The results show that the mind and soul are conceptualized differently in the two countries: (...) The Chinese appear to think of the soul similarly to how they view the mind, while Poles differentiate it both in ontological and functional respects. The study provides important insights into cross-cultural differences in conceptualizing the soul as well as into the nature of Chinese mind-body dualism. (shrink)
Since Chenyang Li’s (1994) groundbreaking article there has been interest in reading early Confucian ethics through the lens of care ethics. In this paper, I examine the prospects for dialogue between the two in light of recent work in both fields. I argue that, despite some similarities, early Confucian ethics is not best understood as a form of care ethics, of the kind articulated by Nel Noddings (1984, 2002) and others. Reasons include incongruence deriving from the absence in the Chinese (...) texts of a developed account of need, and doubts about whether the parent-child relationship in Confucian thought is best characterized by ‘care’. More importantly, care is merely one value directing the Confucian commitment to family and personal bonds, with different kinds of relationship, including the five relationships presented in the Mencius, entailing different idealized modes of relating to others. (shrink)
An overview of how friendship has been represented and assessed in the Confucian tradition, and particularly in classical Confucian texts such as the Analects and the Mencius. Themes covered include the relationship between the family and friendship, the ambivalence towards friendship in imperial China, and the connection between friendship and the Confucian ideal of personal cultivation. The chapter finishes by exploring novel conceptions of friendship and human relatedness suggested by the Confucian tradition.
Li Zehou’s work can be understood as an account of a Chinese modernity, a vision for Chinese society that seeks to integrate three distinct philosophical approaches. These are Chinese history and culture, which Li understands as largely Confucian; Marxism, which has exerted such influence on a modernizing China; and Western learning more generally, as expressed by figures such as Immanuel Kant and Sigmund Freud. Li also frequently expresses the hope that a Chinese modernity will be one in which the importance (...) of the individual is recognized, and rights and freedoms upheld (e.g., 2006, p. 182). But this stance raises an important question: how are individuality and freedom understood in Li’s philosophical system? In this paper, I want to examine what resources Li offers to help us conceptualize their place in a modernity with Chinese characteristics. Confucian culture is often regarded as authoritarian and hierarchical, less interested than more liberal traditions in an ideal such as freedom. So how does freedom relate to the Confucian root of Chinese culture, as construed by Li? In this paper I explore how Li Zehou’s study of Confucian aesthetics can deliver a novel conception of freedom, one grounded in Confucian thinking about personal cultivation, and aimed at the free creation of delight (樂). (shrink)
This article explores the relationship between friendship and morality. Two ideas have been influential in the history of moral philosophy: the impartial standpoint and close friendship. These two perspectives on thought and action can conflict, however, and such a case is presented here. In an attempt to resolve these tensions, and understand the assumption that gives rise to it, I explore an alternative conception of moral conduct and friendship suggested by early Confucian thought. Within this account, moral conduct is that (...) which aims at harmony, understood as the appropriate blending of different elements. This suggests a conception of friendship that realizes harmony through a focus on shared activities, and the quality of interaction achieved between people as they participate in shared social events. This account offers a novel way of conceptualizing friendship, which also avoids the tension between the impartial standpoint and close friendship. (shrink)
Li Zehou is perhaps best known among Western audiences for his work on aesthetics. This is mainly due to the fact that translations of his writings available in English are mostly limited to his aesthetics.1 The content of A Response to Michael Sandel and Other Matters differs greatly from these previous translations. Published in Chinese in 2014, it is one of Li’s most recent books, and in it he discusses several main points of the systematic philosophical outlook he has developed (...) over recent decades, and places them in relation to Western liberalism. A Response thus aims far beyond responding to Michael Sandel’s views on justice and morality as presented in the... (shrink)
Ideas found in the early Daoist texts can inform current debates about disability, since the latter often involve assumptions about personhood and agency that Daoist texts do not share. The two canonical texts of classical Daoism, the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi, do not explicitly discuss disability as an object of theory or offer a model of it. They do, however, provide conceptual resources that can enrich contemporary discussions of disability. Two particular ideas are discussed here. Classical Daoist thinking about the (...) body undermines normative assumptions about it that attributions of ‘disabled’ often depend upon; and Daoism vividly problematises the common inferential leap from perceived and pronounced incapacity to a more general judgment of “useless”. In conclusion, I suggest that Daoism’s skepticism and particularistic approach to experience suggest caution about the value of appealing to theoretical models of disability. (shrink)
Li Zehou’s work can be understood as an account of a Chinese modernity, a vision for Chinese society that seeks to integrate three distinct philosophical approaches. These are Chinese history and culture, which Li understands as largely Confucian; Marxism, which has exerted such influence on a modernizing China; and Western learning more generally, as expressed by figures such as Immanuel Kant and Sigmund Freud. Li also frequently expresses the hope that a Chinese modernity will be one in which the importance (...) of the individual is recognized, and rights and freedoms upheld (e.g., Li and Cauvel 2006, p. 182). But this stance raises an important question: how are individuality and freedom understood in Li’s philosophical system? In this paper, I want to examine what resources Li offers to help us conceptualize their place in a modernity with Chinese characteristics. Confucian culture is often regarded as authoritarian and hierarchical, less interested than more liberal traditions in an ideal such as freedom. So how does freedom relate to the Confucian root of Chinese culture, as construed by Li? In this paper I explore how Li Zehou’s study of Confucian aesthetics can deliver a novel conception of freedom, one grounded in Confucian thinking about personal cultivation, and aimed at the free creation of delight (樂). (shrink)
To understand the details of LI Zehou’s work, it is helpful to first locate it within the social and historical contexts to which Li was responding. Specifically, his work can be understood as a contribution to the struggle to establish the intellectual foundations of a Chinese modernity. As China transitioned away from the long-lived dynastic system that had ended early in the twentieth century, there was intense debate in China about what forms of social and political order should take its (...) place. Marxism emerged as the governing ideology after the Communist revolution, but this did not settle the outstanding social questions. In the period of liberalization that followed Mao’s death, intellectuals like LI Zehou emerged and found a new role. Instead of being tasked with providing justifications for state policy and the ruling ideology, they were free, to some extent, to explore new ideas that could inform policy and popular consciousness. LI Zehou duly became one of the most active and widely read of Chinese thinkers during the 1980s and 1990s, offering a humanistic vision of Chinese society. What made LI Zehou’s contribution distinctive was the willingness to draw from all these disparate frameworks, in an attempt to synthesize them into a unified system of thought. (shrink)
The view that aesthetics is central to human conduct and social order derives from the cosmology articulated in the classical corpus. This led several modern Chinese thinkers to articulate how some notion of the aesthetic has been central to Chinese culture and society. Roger Ames and David Hall’s work might be considered as a continuation of this New Confucian project, since their account of the classic Chinese tradition as an aesthetic tradition also starts from recognition of some kind of comprehensive (...) unity between humans and the world. Their approach, however, holds out the promise of avoiding metaphysical or causal problems facing these earlier accounts, where attempts to link a world of processual transformation directly with human emotion must explain casually how such correlation could arise. Hall and Ames, however, emphasize a different conception of aesthetic. In their account, this unity is understood not in terms of metaphysical or causal connection, but through aesthetic judgment. This conception utilizes a Whiteheadian metaphysical framework, whereby the holistic cosmology is now understood as giving rise not to emotions but to an aesthetic order. Building on Roger Ames’ creative reinvigoration of Confucian thought through an appreciation of the role of the aesthetic in the Confucian tradition, we might consider an additional Confucian sense of “aesthetic” that also contributes to social order: the practical concern to create aesthetic goods within everyday social life. This account also draws on Whitehead for relevant conceptual resources, while incorporating the Deweyan instrumentalism of Professor Ames’ later work. (shrink)
An examination of Hall and Ames’s claim that the classical Confucian tradition be understood as constituting an aesthetic order. Some have argued that this claim is simply false. However, this claim should be understood not in terms of its literal truth or falsity, but in terms of its usefulness and suggestiveness. It is a general description that can guide inquiry into early Chinese thought. In what follows, I locate Hall and Ames’s “aesthetic order” within a broader interpretive lineage that understands (...) the Chinese tradition as an aesthetic tradition. I show how conceptions of “aesthetic” evolve within that lineage, how Hall and Ames built upon earlier New Confucians, and how their work might be extended further. (shrink)
In this essay I offer an alternative perspective on how to organize class material for courses in Chinese philosophy for predominately American students. Instead of selecting topics taken from common themes in Western discourses, I suggest a variety of organizational strategies based on themes from the Chinese texts themselves, such as tradition, ritual, family, and guanxi (關係), which are rooted in the Chinese tradition but flexible enough to organize a broad range of philosophical material.
The question of possible moral conflict between commitment to family and to impartiality is particularly relevant to traditional Confucian thought, given the importance of familial bonds in that tradition. Classical Confucian ethics also appears to lack any developed theoretical commitment to impartiality as a regulative ideal and a standpoint for ethical judgment, or to universal equality. The Confucian prioritizing of family has prompted criticism of Confucian ethics, and doubts about its continuing relevance in China and beyond. This chapter assesses how (...) those sympathetic to the Confucian vision of the good life might respond. It first explores Confucian conceptions of love and the importance of familial love. Next, problems arising from this commitment to partiality are discussed, and how a modern Confucian ethics might respond. I explore what notions of impartiality—understood largely pragmatically, as a value that functions in everyday social life rather than as an explicit moral principle that guides deliberation or judgment—can be derived from an ethics that focuses on family commitments. (shrink)
Amy Olberding, The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2019, 183pp., $29.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780190880965. Reviewed byAndrew Lambert, City University of New York, College of Staten Island.
In Confucius: the Man and the Way of Gongfu, Peimin Ni offers an overview of the historical Confucius and his organic vision of how to live. Ni's motivation is that many comparable introductions are "simply repeating his life story and listing his main ideas". Ni insists that, "we have to get to the depth required by Confucius' thought", which will then explain why Confucius' influence has endured. The book is structured as six chapters, each focusing on one aspect of Confucius: (...) as historical figure, as spiritual leader, as philosopher, as political reformer, as educator and as a person. A full understanding of Confucius, Ni states, requires seeing how the different aspects inform each other, like a... (shrink)
This paper explores the encounter between traditional Confucian thought and contemporary Anglophone philosophy. It explores the evolution in philosophical methods and heuristics employed by "Western" thinkers in the past fifty or so years, often with the aim of extracting Confucian thought from its specific social and historical roots. Unlike the disciplines of intellectual or literary history, these philosophers have a distinctive variety of aims. These include: articulate dimensions of Confucian philosophy not explicit in traditional texts, develop critiques of Western modernity, (...) derive solutions to problems in Western philosophy, and attempt to reimagine Confucian thought for an East Asian modernity. Analyzing how contemporary philosophers have engaged the Chinese tradition makes clearer the meaning of the much-debated term “Chinese philosophy,” without becoming mired in definitional disputes, while also justifying the enterprise of engaging philosophically with the Chinese tradition. (shrink)
A feature of Li Zehou's work was the co-opting or reworking of historical or popular phrases and aphorisms. One such repurposed distinction helpfully situates his work and this book-length survey of it. He identified two approaches to the history of Chinese thought. The first, translating literally, is "I annotate the six classics", and the second is: "the six classics annotate me". In the first approach, the subject categorizes both texts and history, and successive layers of interpretation accumulate in a commentarial (...) tradition; the second treats history as a resource for the present, and views the human subject as the product of history. History--as texts, culture... (shrink)
This edited volume of twelve essays originated with a conference on translation held at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2009. A guiding hope of the conference and volume, summarized in the afterword, is that the humanities should pay greater attention to the practice of translation (301). By detailing its nuances and difficulties, the volume challenges the view, sometimes found in philosophy departments, that translation is a rather straightforward process, and significantly less important to the field than original research (...) or monographs. In addition, a second motivation is the relative dearth of translated Chinese texts available in English, compared to the numbers of Western canonical texts long since available in Chinese (1). In response, the volume offers practical and theoretical discussions of how to translate premodern China for the contemporary Western reader. (shrink)
An exploration of the role of pleasure or delight (le樂) in classical Confucian ethics. Building on Michael Nylan's account of the role of pleasure in public spectacle and social order, I explore how the meaning of delight (le樂) derives from the features and effects of music (yue樂). Drawing on Dewey's aesthetics and accounts of music in Confucian texts, I explore a conception of Confucian ethics, in which delight—like states generated through everyday social interaction are foundational.
Rorty, Pragmatism, and Confucianism, a collection of twelve essays on the work of Richard Rorty and its relation to Confucian thought, arose out of a conference in Shanghai in 2004, where participants were granted access to several of Rorty’s unpublished manuscripts. In his introduction, the editor Yong Huang states his desire to outline areas of shared interest in Rortian and Confucian thought. He notes, for example, the similarities between Rorty’s view that sentiment is “central to the moral consciousness” (p. 2) (...) and the early Confucian tradition’s stress on the enhancement and appropriate directing of feeling; in Rorty’s words, a more moral world is best created by telling a “long, sad, sentimental .. (shrink)
Li Zehou is widely regarded as one of China’s most influential contemporary thinkers. He has produced influential theories of the development of Chinese thought and the place of aesthetics in Chinese ethics and value theory. This book is the first English-language translation of Li Zehou’s work on classical Chinese thought. It includes chapters on the classical Chinese thinkers, including Confucius, Mozi, Laozi, Sunzi, Xunzi and Zhuangzi, and also on later eras and thinkers such as Dong Zhongshu in the Han Dynasty (...) and the Song-Ming Neo-Confucians. (shrink)
This article analyses the tradition of "articulating xing in terms of sheng" and related other expressions, and also examines the debate between Mencius and Gaozi concerning "xing is known by sheng" It claims that while Mencius' "human nature is good" discourse is influenced by the interpretive tradition of "articulating xing in terms of sheng", Mencius also transcends and develops this tradition. Therefore it is only when Mencius' views about the goodness of human nature are understood in the context of this (...) interpretive tradition that his ideas can be fully understood. Utilizing this framework, the Confucian understanding of rights is then explored. /// 通过对"以生言性"的传统及其不同命题表述的详尽分析，对孟子、告子"生 之谓性"的辩论做出梳理，指出孟子性善论一方面受到了"以生言性"传统的影响， 另一方面则超越、发展了这一传统，故只有将孟子性善论放在"以生言性"的传统 下才能得到真正的理解。从这一角度出发，为探讨儒家的权利观念提供了可能。. (shrink)