I’ve been making by way through Benjamin Schwartz’ The World of Thought in Ancient China (1985). I’m currently moving through the chapter on Mencius and Xunzi, and found an interesting little section that deals (albeit quickly) with the issue of choice-theoretic models of selfhood, which was the subject of my post below this one on Fingarette and Confucius. Schwartz agrees with Sam (see comments in post below this one) that Mencius differs from Confucius on the centrality of choice. See below the fold.
Peony at her blog asks a very good question: just how similar would Confucius be to Kierkegaard? More pointedly – is Confucius just an ancient version of Judge William from Either/Or, imploring the reader to get off his or her butt and finally make a choice or a leap into the authentic life of being socially embedded within roles? I find this to be a fascinating question and I’d like to think a bit more about it here. I’ll do it by situating the question within the context of Herbert Fingarette’s writing. Fingarette, I believe, upon hearing this question would take his shoe off and slam the table with it like Khrushchev while repeatedly yelling “NO! NO! NO!” Let’s walk this through below the fold and see how it shakes out.
As I read the Theravada Buddhist work the Dhammapada, I find myself thinking of Kierkegaard. Specifically, I find myself thinking of Abraham and the Knight of Faith, and the relationship between their predicament (as described by Kierkegaard) and the life-situation of the potential Buddhist Arahant. Both typologies, the Buddhist and the Existentialist, seem to me to offer as an ideal a way of “walking betwixt the two worlds” in which one lives as the being that one is.
The book is finally out. Yesterday I actually held a copy of it in my hands. It was an odd feeling, I must admit.
As some of you know, I’ve been slaving away for months nonstop on a book manuscript (Existentialism for Dummies — yeah, that series). Today was the final deadline from the publisher, and it is DONE. I can’t express the relief. It’s been fun, but at the same time it’s been an intense amount of work. I feel like the last 9 months of my life weren’t my own. I think my daughter and wife are looking forward to me rejoining the family again. I’m looking forward to getting the edits back in a month and then having this puppy all wrapped up by the end of May, and maybe at that point I can not just rejoin the family, but the rest of my life too.
For believe me! — the secret of realizing the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships out into uncharted seas!
I always took him to be speaking metaphorically. But obviously, some people take this sort of thing literally. Well, not the Vesuvius part, but close enough.
Yeah, that’s an odd title. Sometimes I do feel like I want to throw Confucius across the room (well, the book, not him, obviously). But that’s not what I mean here. Rather, I’m interested in the connection between Confucius’ insistence on the importance of orienting oneself with respect to the li (rituals, tradition) and the nature of Existential guilt, specifically how this concept “cashes out” in terms of “thrown-ness” in Heidegger (no shock there I suppose, I’ve made quite a few of these Heidegger-Confucius posts lately). I suspect that David Hall is casting his spell on me (I’m guessing that it’s Hall who is behind the clear Heideggerian tone of Thinking Through Confucius — it doesn’t strike me as particularly “Ames” like, but I could be wrong).
One of the central points that is often made in the Analects states that the junzi (exemplary person) differs from the hsiao jen (small petty person). This difference is exemplified in many ways, the most obvious being that the junzi is focused on excellence, whereas the hsiao jen is focused on profit. One other central division, one that I’m concerned with, suggests that the junzi lives “without anxiety” whereas the hsiao jen is wracked by it. But is this right?
I’m reading Heidegger. Whether you like Heidegger or not, in my opinion, is immaterial — one thing that does seem to always happen is that he makes you think issues through in different ways, which in my opinion is always a good thing. It’s too easy to get stuck in “how one thinks” (if you get the pun). So in reading him, I’ve been wondering about a very basic question: what comes first, “we” or “I”? Heidegger’s answer seems pretty straightforward (not straightforwardly explained, but the position itself is clear): “we” comes first.
Of course, this runs up against two intuitions.
A modern day Kierkegaard in the making? Here’s an interesting story about a self-professed Christian who has become frustrated with organized religion, specifically the organized religion of the right. He wrote a book about it, suggesting that Christianity in its modern form is too oriented towards herd-thinking (my term, not his) and a “go-along-to-get-along” (his words) mindset.