The first thing we discussed in my Asian Ethics course this week was general East-West cultural differences. Some of these are legendary: different notions of the self, respect for authority, drinking hot as opposed to cold water (I just can’t get myself to do that one), ways of viewing the elderly, and so on. To highlight some of these differences, I used the artwork of Yang Liu, a Beijing artist (click here to see it). In discussing Yang Liu’s work in an online discussion forum I use for my class, one of my students (who happens to be a Chinese national) noted that she disagreed with one of the “differences” the artwork purported to express.
Obama’s choice of Biden struck me as safe. Barring the possibility that Biden opens his mouth and utters one of his typical stupid non-PC comments, there aren’t any great negatives. He brings experience, especially in foreign policy, both of which are signal weaknesses of Obama. But McCain-Palin? What does this ticket do for McCain? Whereas Obama’s choice might be seen as overly safe (a don’t rock the boat choice), McCain’s just strikes me as panic.
Only two things come to mind. “Who?” and “LOL”.
If the Democrats can’t pull this one off, they need to fold up the tent and dissolve their party.
She’s here! First — it’s a girl. That made life easier on the name front, for sure (boy names are tough!). We had decided on a name for a boy, but never had to use it. Her name is Paige Amy Panza (Amy is my sister, so named after her). She weighed in at 9 pounds 10 ounces and was born this morning at about 9:50 am. A huge kid. It was amazing to see her in her tub-bed next to the other kids in the nursery ward. She look 2 months old. She’s a cutie (pictures soon)! Both Paige and her mother are doing very well.
I am told that this means I will now be surrounded by a sea of estrogen (two daughters and a wife). I think this will mean that somewhere down the line, I will need to create a man-cave (or a manctuary, as some call it). More on the concept of a man-cave at a different time.
I tend to prefer readings of texts that make people more radical. I’ll just admit it — I don’t smoke anymore, and I don’t drink much anymore, so it’s one of my remaining vices. What can you do. Specifically, in the present case, I tend to prefer readings of Xunzi that have him arguing that morality or goodness is externally imposed upon the agent by the creative hand of the sage, not something that can be discovered and nurtured in the agent in the sense that Mencius seems to suggest. But now I’m not so sure.
We’re still thinking about a boy name. We have a short list, but it should be shorter. If name popularity across time is something that interests you, this site is very cool. Click in, you are guaranteed to spend at least a few minutes there.
Trying to make sense of what Xunzi’s philosophy on the whole means can run into some pretty basic difficulties, at least in my less than knowledgeable (when it comes to Xunzi) case. The reason for this stems from a difficulty in making clear what Xunzi is up to at the most fundamental level. It’s tough to attempt more sophisticated readings of finer points when the more basic and general points are still unclear. One of them concerns Xunzi’s take on xing (human nature), whether it is bad (e) and whether yi (duty, righteousness, appropriateness) is innate. The problem: if yi is innate, it seems that xing is not e, and that puts him in bed with Mencius, a person Xunzi doesn’t want to be sleeping with.
I find questions of motivation intriguing. How is it that some people have the ability to simply “latch on” to a goal and doggedly pursue it, whereas others either have an inability to latch on at all to a goal, or have the ability but weakly so — any number of frustrations will suffice to derail the pursuit of the goal.
We’re still…waiting. No baby. We thought for sure we’d have a new arrival by now, but baby arrival medical science is like Aristotelean virtue ethics — you can’t demand more precision than the subject matter allows. While we’re waiting, we’re having issues with baby names. We have a firm name for a girl, if it is a girl (we don’t know the sex of the baby). We’re hung up on the name for the kid if it is a boy. We’ve solicited help from others in coming up with cool boy names, by the way, so if you have one (or some) please feel free to leave a suggestion!
However, for some people, “cool name for a baby” goes a bit too far… (click below)
For students roaming through, notice that the course pages have been pretty heavily updated in the past few days. You’ll find handouts, readings, assignments and syllabi for each course now. For others — I’m still on blog break, waiting patient for the arrival of child #2, which really could be any day (or minute) now. As I wait, I’m reading Kurtis Hagen’s The Philosophy of Xunzi: A Reconstruction (2007), which so far has been a pretty good book. I’ll be back to posting soon, hopefully.
I’m trying to hammer out a rough outline for a paper, so I’m on blog break. In the meantime, checkout this Wall Street Journal editorial on how Obama being in shape might be a political liability. It’s sad on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin. It seems that all he needs to do is become one of the scooter people (those of you who know me know what I mean) and he’s a shoe-in. After all, we Americans like people who seem to be just like us, right?