Building on influential work in virtue ethics, this collection of essays examines the categories of self, person, and anthropology as foci for comparative analysis. The papers unite reflections on theory and method with descriptive work that addresses thinkers from the modern West, Christian and Jewish Late Antiquity, early China, and other settings. The introduction sets out central methodological issues that are subsequently taken up in each essay, including the origin of the categories through which comparison proceeds, the status of these (...) categories in the process of comparison, and the goals of comparison. In considering the question of goals, the introduction draws connections between comparative study and historical study within one tradition. Both types of analysis can bridge the gap between historical and normative work by attending to the ways in which the questions a scholar asks - not just the answers found - vary from one context to another. (shrink)
The turn to descriptive studies of ethics is inspired by the sense that our ethical theorizing needs to engage ethnography, history, and literature in order to address the full complexity of ethical life. This article examines four books that describe the cultivation of virtue in diverse cultural contexts, two concerning early China and two concerning Islam in recent years. All four emphasize the significance of embodiment, and they attend to the complex ways in which choice and agency interact with the (...) authority of tradition. In considering these books, this article examines the relations between our academic claims concerning the self and ethics, conceptual or theoretical claims made in the elite writings of traditions, and the lived experiences of the people we study. The conclusion turns to our methodological foundations for studying these topics both comparatively and constructively. (shrink)
comment ▪ Subject: "Judging Others: History, Ethics, and the Purposes of Comparison" Aaron Stalnaker Journal of Religious Ethics 36.3 (September 2008) ▪ From: Jonathan Wyn Schofer Harvard Divinity School 45 Francis Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138.