In the last few days I’ve learned that Tsinghua may not want me to teach the culture class I was scheduled for next semester — instead they want me to teach Chinese Philosophy. This is fine with me, and would likely be a lot of fun, but I’ve never taught this as a standalone course. Instead, I’ve taught courses that deal with a focused area within Chinese philosophy (such as my “Confucian Virtue Ethics” course) or that deal with a wider Asian theme (such as my “Asian Ethics” course that also covers Indian thinkers). So if I do wind up teaching this course, I’ll have to build it quickly, which means selecting the right books and figuring out which thinkers to cover.
Readers, lurkers and comment makers, lend me your ears: Peony, Bill Haines and I will be organizing a virtual “reading group” (which will take place both here and at Peony’s place, Tang Dynasty Times) focusing on Daniel Bell’s 2000 work East Meets West. The book deals with a very timely topic and is written in dialogue form, making the work accessible to both academics and non-academics alike. See below the fold for more information on the book and the reading group schedule. Hopefully many of the lurkers here will take up the opportunity to buy the book and read along, hopefully joining in on the online conversation. The more the merrier!
Today the Christmas Tree went up. We don’t buy real trees, since it’s a pain in the butt to get them and transport them to the house and then a royal pain to clean up as they dry out. So we do it the other way: stick the fake pole in the tree stand and start sticking in the individual branches into their color coordinated holes. This time things started as usual. First Christie stuck the very top branches into the pole, and then started at the bottom, putting in the biggest branches and working her way up. Then something unexpected happened.
For the past few months, I’ve been a regular reader of the online blogs run by The Atlantic. My immersion into this community of bloggers started when I was drawn to Andrew Sullivan’s blog, which appears there. But since then I’ve been pulled into some of the other Atlantic online “columnists”. Without a doubt, the most fun read is Ta-Nehisi Coates. He’s got a way with words for sure, and he reminds me a lot of the people I knew and was friends with while growing up in New York. In this column (he has an older and more expanded column on his here) he advances his thesis about the use of that word (and some of its more amusing variations). You know which one. He has some interesting — and characteristically controversial — things to say about its use, and who is and isn’t allowed to use it, and when.
I’m a bit behind on some matters (tenure letters, papers, grading, prep, changing diapers, you name it), so I’ve been a bit silent here for the past few days. Still, I didn’t want to miss posting this highly scientific and sophisticated pie chart (care of Andrew Sullivan), one that with a great degree of care that lays out all of the possible consequences of gay marriage and displays their degree of likelihood. See below the fold. The results are, frankly, quite shocking. Further analysis of the results might be in order.
In my thread on ritual, “Small and Great: Follow It!” the subject of “shu” 恕 came up. I suggested that shu is integral to the subject of “real” ritual performances (if the function of ritual is to play a constitutive role in the promotion of harmony). I’m hoping we can use this thread to discuss the notion of “shu” through examining the character of Zigong to see if there is, as I suspect, a fundamental connection. Below the fold I lay it all out.
Those who follow the issue of gay marriage no doubt know that Proposition 8 passed in California, denying gays the right to marry. I was looking at the internal polling numbers on the voter demographics for Prop 8, and they show an interesting feature: although voters in the 29 – 64 group voted around 55% in favor of the proposition, and those in the 64+ group voted 61% for it, those in the 18 – 29 group voted 61% against the proposition. What do you make of this?
I usually don’t put cartoons up unless it’s Sunday (my “Sunday Comics” category), but my wife passed this one along, and I just thought: Confucian Bunnies ODing on Filial Piety (xiao). Yeah, I know that cutting up the body is a no-no for the early Confucians, but it’s a funny cartoon.
Hint: The cartoon is funny on it’s own, but I was thinking of it this way — for parents to expect their child person to keep or hold their mother’s severed foot would be to presuppose or demand a bit too much filial piety.
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.
I just finished reading an article, “The Purloined Philosopher: Youzi on Learning by Virtue” in the latest Philosophy East and West (58, 4) by a frequent commenter here at A Ku Indeed, Bill Haines. It’s a very good article, especially if you don’t know much about Youzi (and I don’t myself). There are a lot of things I’d like to comment on in it, but I have family visiting here at the moment and grading is piling high, so for now I’ll pick out a small piece from the article to talk about that I found interesting. The subject is ritual (li).