This paper discusses Confucian notions of moral autonomy and moral agency that do not follow strict and ideal notions of autonomy that one can find in many Western theories of moral philosophy. In Kantian deontology, for example, one's autonomy, specifically one's rational will to follow universal moral rules, is a necessary condition of moral agency and moral responsibility. In Confucian moral philosophy, however, this type of strict moral autonomy is rarely observed. A Confucian moral agent is often depicted as a (...) partially heteronomous individual who often accepts and follows others' moral authority and considers external contingencies in her moral deliberations. Yet active moral agency is maintained in Confucian philosophy. In this paper, I will explain and analyze a partially heteronomous but active form of moral agency in Confucian moral philosophy. First, I will survey different notions of moral autonomy and explore philosophical theories of partial autonomy and heteronomy. Second, I will discuss, on the basis of interactive, responsive, and situated notions of the self, how Confucian moral agency can be explained without strict standards of autonomy. In Confucianism, morality or virtuosity reflects the relational, responsive, and situated nature of human being that resonates with other human beings and their environmental contingencies. Mencius, for example, acknowledges and discusses interactive or relational nature of moral action and the dependency of the moral self on external conditions of life without giving up active moral effort and full moral responsibility. Third, based on my analysis of moral autonomy and responsibility in early Confucian philosophy, I will argue that Confucian moral philosophy provides a unique way of understanding moral agency, not through self-enclosed independency but through relational and interactive interdependency of communal agency. (shrink)
The body is not a physical reservoir or temporary means of cognitive processes but the part and parcel of our cognitive and moral life. Confucian philosophy provides insightful discussions and examples of how the body serves the moral mind not only causally but also constitutionally.
This book offers an analysis of shame and develops an interdisciplinary and comparative interpretation of Confucian shame as a moral disposition, the ability of critical moral-development and self-cultivation.
This paper compares and contrasts Mencius's moral philosophy with recent development in cognitive science regarding mental capacity to understand moral rules and principles. Several cognitive scientists argue that the human mind has innate cognitive and emotive foundations of morality. In this paper, Mencius's moral theory is interpreted from the perspective of faculty psychology and cognitive modularity, a theoretical hypothesis in cognitive science in which the mind is understood as a system of specialized mental components. Specifically, Mencius's Four Beginnings (the basic (...) human emotions that serve as the foundations of morality) are interpreted as vertical faculties, comparable to Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid's moral faculties. (shrink)
Since the publication of Fodor's (1983) The Modularity of Mind, there have been quite a few discussions of cognitive modularity among cognitive scientists. Generally, in those discussions, modularity means a property of specialized cognitive processes or a domain-specific body of information. In actuality, scholars understand modularity in many different ways. Different characterizations of modularity and modules were proposed and discussed, but they created misunderstanding and confusion. In this article, I classified and analyzed different approaches to modularity and argued for the (...) unity of modularity. Modularity is a multidimensional property consisting of features from several dimensions specifying different aspects of cognition. Among those, there are core features of modularity, and these core features form a cross-dimensional unity. Despite the diverse and liberal characterizations, modularity contributes to cognitive science because of the unity of the core features. (shrink)
This article discusses philosophical influence, especially the influence made by Confucianism and Daoism, on the way Asian people see and understand the world. Recently, Richard Nisbett drew a connection between Chinese philosophy (Confucianism and Daoism) and the cognitive profiles of the people who live in Asian countries where Confucianism and Daoism are strong social and cultural traditions. He argues that there is a peculiar way that Asians think and perceive things and this cognitive pattern is influenced by a group of (...) principles derived from Chinese philosophy. This article critically analyzes Nisbett’s explanation, his emphasis on the principle of change in particular, and provides an alternative explanation of the connection between Chinese philosophy and cognitive peculiarities of Asians. Asians combine and integrate opposite viewpoints not because they believe that things change in all unexpected directions, but because they see the world as a big system with interrelated and mutually influencing components. (shrink)
This chapter develops an interdisciplinary and comparative analysis of Mencius’s moral psychology from the perspective of cognitive science. The chapter has three major objectives. First, the author explains Mencius’s moral philosophy in the broad moral psychological context of the Confucian heart-mind as an intriguing combination of reason and emotion. Second, the author surveys major approaches to moral cognition currently discussed and debated in many areas of psychology and neuroscience and compares them with Mencius’s approach to affective empathy and other-concerning emotions. (...) Specifically, Mencius’s discussion of ceyin zhi xin (惻隱之心 the heart-mind of pity and compassion) is analyzed on the basis of recent psychological studies of empathy as perspective taking, affective sharing, and emphatic concern. Third, Mencius’s moral psychology is characterized as a theory of other-regarding, developmental, and embodied moral emotions and its uniqueness is explained by the Mencian creature (a prototypical moral agent in Mencius’s moral psychology). The distinctive characteristics of the Mencian creature are listed, analyzed, and compared against the psychological properties of the Kantian, Humean, and Rawlsian creatures in Western moral psychology. By drawing from psychological theories of affective empathy and other-concerning emotions, this chapter provides a stimulating opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of Mencius’s moral psychology and the Confucian heart-mind. (shrink)
Many comparative philosophers discuss ceyinzhixin 惻隱之心 and its moral psychological nature to understand the Confucian heart-mind and the unique Confucian approach to other-concerning love. This essay examines and analyzes different interpretations of ceyinzhixin. First, it surveys and compares the four interpretations in recent publications of comparative Chinese philosophy, and analyzes their moral psychological viewpoints. Second, three major approaches to ceyinzhixin and their differences are analyzed. Third, the moral psychological complexity of ceyinzhixin and the advantage of the integrative approach are discussed. (...) The integrative approach, in comparison to other approaches, explains both the complexity and the unity of ceyinzhixin better and develops an inclusive and comprehensive interpretation of ceyinzhixin and the unique moral psychological nature of the Confucian heart-mind in its empathic other-concerning love. (shrink)
Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, philosophers have studied functional structure of human mind. So called 'faculty psychology' is the study of innate structure of human cognition. However, it is Gall's theory of faculties that started the study of domain specific and autonomous units of human mind. This dissertation discusses modularity of mind, i.e., the idea that mind consists of such domain specific and autonomous units, i.e., cognitive modules. ;In the first of the dissertation, I discuss faculty psychology as (...) a historical precursor of modularity and recent theories of modularity that are developed to capture different aspects of a cognitive system. ;In the second part of the dissertation, I discuss Fodorian modularity, a comprehensive and well developed theory of modularity. Two problems of Fodorian modularity are discussed. First, Fodorian modularity is problematic because it has a problematic element, i.e., neural specificity. Fodor explains informational encapsulation of a cognitive system in terms of specific neural structure of the system. However, I argue that neural specificity is not fully demonstrated in psychology. Second, Fodorian modularity is an internally specified property of a cognitive system. Modularity, however, can be understood as an external property, a property that is specified by a cognitive system's relation to other objects and properties in the world. (shrink)
This book provides a rigorous analysis of Owen Flanagan's comparative philosophy. The contributors discuss his philosophy of human flourishing and naturalized approach to Asian Philosophy. The essays critically analyse Flanagan's naturalized eudaimonics, naturalized Buddhism, and theory of Confucian human flourishing and moral modularity.
In The Emotional Mind, Asma and Gabriel develop their grand vision of affect. Their goal is to demonstrate the foundational and pervasive nature of emotion in the mind, culture and society through the embodied, embedded, and enactive process of evolution. The book discusses how affective adaptation supports or leads diverse facets of human psychology and society. In this paper, however, I raise three critical questions about Asma and Gabriel’s approach to emotion: whether emotion is a natural kind, whether internalized self-critical (...) emotions came to exist through the adaptive and interactive process of decoupling, and whether the variance and integrity of the tripartite layers of the mind can be maintained. (shrink)
This article reviews Owen Flanagan’s latest book “The Geography of Morals, Varieties of Moral Possibilities”. By exploring the space of moral possibility, Flanagan argues that ethics is not simply a study of a priori conditions of normative rules and ideal values but a process of developing a careful understanding of varying conditions of human ecology and building practical views on living good life. The goal of this geographical exploration of the moral possibility space is surveying different traditions of morality and (...) finding tractable ways of human flourishing. This article, by following the chapters of his book, explains his views on moral diversity and his interdisciplinary and naturalistic approach to ethics. It also discusses interactive and dynamic ways to expand the moral possibility space. (shrink)
In this book, Edward Slingerland criticizes and rejects a pervasive and widely accepted viewpoint in Chinese philosophy: holism. Simply speaking, holism is a non-discrete and non-analytic pattern of thinking that avoids the adoption of mutually exclusive and dualistic concepts such as mind-body, theory-practice, reason-emotion, and macrocosm-microcosm typically found in many Western philosophical theories. In the context of Chinese philosophy, it is understood as an interpretational framework where Chinese philosophy is characterized as a fundamentally and essentially non-dualistic system of thought. According (...) to Slingerland, holism is not simply one of the characteristics of Chinese philosophy but a deeply rooted... (shrink)
This chaper discusses homelessness from the perspective of the corporeal consciousness. Psychologists such as Ernst Jentsch and Sigmund Freud report and discuss a strange psychological state of Unheimliche. Philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Jacques Lacan elaborate and analyze this alienating strangeness in our experience of the self and the world. Since the German word Heim means home, Unheimliche refers to a state of homelessness or unhomeliness. Unheimliche is often translated into English as uncanniness. Uncanniness refers to the disturbing and (...) puzzling experience of familiarly unfamiliar images or scenes. It is a mode of experience that reveals the in-between-ness of human existence and the primordial anxiety that derive from the dual nature of the body, i.e., the body as both an object of perception and a subject of feeling. From the perspective of the fundamental corporeality and the externalizing intimacy of human existence and consciousness, the author will argue that lived experience of uncanniness or homelessness is one of the intriguing aspects of human psychology and humane existence, caused by the continuous cycle of the familiarizing and the alienating processes of the intrinsically embodied mind. The conscious mind is living in this dual image of going home and going out to the world as it experiences the familiarly unfamiliar self that is intrinsically corporeal. The author will explain and analyze the homelessness and uncanniness from the viewpoint of the duality of corporeal consciousness. (shrink)
Why do bad things happen to good people? Why isn’t good moral intention always rewarded? Franklin Perkins discusses these challenging questions about good and evil in his recent book Heaven and Earth Are not Humane: The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy. As the title suggests, Perkins focuses on the unique Chinese notion of heaven and its related philosophical issues of undeserved misfortune and limited moral efficacy. The subtitle of the book is equally intriguing. Perkins discusses these philosophical issues (...) from the perspective of the problem of evil. The problem of evil is the problem of the positive existence of evil and its seemingly random and arbitrary... (shrink)