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.
I’ve been a bad boy. I jumped ahead and read the last chapter of Bell’s book, where he lays out his own recipe for “Chinese Democracy.” I don’t feel qualified to suggest whether his proposal would work in the contemporary Chinese context, but the idea itself is an interesting one. I am at least certain of one thing: it would have just about every good, down-home, corn-fed anti-intellectualist American (the majority of them) running screaming for the exits.
An unmistakable sense of lightness has come over me. I wonder: am I no longer chained to the wheel of samsara? Have I achieved enlightenment? In alignment with the Tao? Seamlessly integrated into my role-ethical obligations? Nothing so grandiose, but somewhat analogous: I’m on sabbatical for the calendar 2009 year. I have a lot planned for the year — research articles, specifically — but first things first. A lot of cool reading! Below the fold I’ve listed the books that are in front of me in the “sabbatical pile” that has been building up for the last few weeks (regular and steady arrivals from Amazon mostly). I’m curious to know if anyone has an opinion on any of these books. Which one would you start with?
I must admit, Barack Obama has me intrigued. He’s making me pay attention to him. His selection of cabinet members – and now his selection of Rick Warren to serve on Inauguration Day – is very interesting. It makes me wonder: is Obama reflecting a bit of what might be required of the Confucian Junzi?
In the comments section of my previous post on Teaching Chinese Philosophy, Bill Haines mentioned that during his experience teaching at Beida in 1990, students seemed more to enjoy Zhuangzi than Xunzi. His point has made me think a bit about the reactions students have to different Asian philosophies, and about what motivates those different reactions.
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.
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).
I’m reading Kohlberg’s old Moral Development and Behavior (1976) for today’s virtue ethics seminar. It can be tough to re-read Kohlberg again, especially after the post-Gilligan “Kohlberg is wrong!” and “Kohlberg is a tool of patriarchy!” memes thrown at you for so many years. As a result, I found myself not so much focusing on Kohlberg, but trying to figure out where Confucius would fit in all of this. I have some guesses. ‘
One of Chu Hsi’s aphorisms in Learning to Be a Sage stuck out to me, and I’m not sure if it is the translation that seems peculiar, or if there’s an idea there that I’m not picking up on. Click below for the passage: hopefully there are a few Chu Hsi’ers out there who can help.
I’m re-reading Eric Hutton’s “Character, Situationism, and Early Confucian Thought” (Phil Studies, 2006) and starting to wonder…am I a situationist about Confucianism? I’m starting to wonder if I have begun to walk down this dark path. (Also, note that Alexus just put up today an excellent post on possible situationism in the Analects).
Some of you may have noticed an increase in posts on “min” lately. Not surprising, I’m trying to puzzle out a subsection of a possible paper, and I still have many questions about the concept. This time, I’m wondering how legitimately we can apply Confucius’ “moralization” of ren to the treatment of min. Depending on which way we answer the question opens or closes a lot of interpretative doors.