I’m in the middle of getting my syllabus organized for my Chinese Philosophy course. I’m trying something new this time. Typically, I just have students read each book from cover to cover, and we try as a class to undergo the messy business of constructing the text’s meaning as we move from chapter to chapter (messy but fun!). This time I’m going to try a thematic approach, just to see how it works. So, in the Analects, perhaps one day we’ll read a collection of aphorisms on ren, and another day we’ll do the same for xiao (and so on for other key concepts).
Now, I have a firm grasp of what passages link up with what themes within the Confucian authors, but I’m less skilled at this for Taoism. So I need the help of the Taoists lurkers. See below:
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.
Yesterday NPR had an interview with an author, Henry Alford, on “All Things Considered” (Terri Gross’s show). Alford spoke a bit about his relationship with the teachings of the Tao Te Ching. Alford’s discussion is not technical — he’s not a specialist on Chinese philosohy. Instead, it’s just a guy talking about how the text has played an important role in his life. Check it out, it’s pretty good.
(h/t: The Useless Tree)
Tao Te Ching 80 is an interesting poem, one that seems to provide a description for what might appear to be a Taoist utopia. Like all utopian portraits, some of the ways in which things would “ideally be” turn out to be interesting, if not counter-intuitive. Although TTC 80 contains a number of these, the one that sticks out the most to me is: a seemingly upturned nose towards travel.