Bloomington, Indiana was the site of the 8th Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought, which took place last Friday to Sunday. Our hosts at the University of Indiana (primarily Aaron Stalnaker, Maichel Ing, and Cheryl Cottine of the Religious Studies Department) organized things very well. The group was small enough that everyone was able to participate, but large enough that there was a critical mass to discuss a wide range of topics intelligently. As compared with the more narrowly philosophical conferences that I have mostly been attending, there was a refreshing dose of sinology (details of texts, less-well-known authors, etc.); too bad that the AAS doesn’t seem to be more open to broad discussions of Chinese thought, because it might then be more of a forum for conversations like this one. Two of my personal highlights were Esther Klein’s paper “Sima Qian’s Confucius and the Western Han Lunyu,” which both reviewed recent research on the possible Western Han composition of the Lunyu and presented her own research into citations of the Lunyu in Shiji; and Frank Perkins’s “The Mohist Daodejing,” which explored parallels between the last 16 chapters of the Daodejing (which are unattested in the Guodian texts) and Mohism. Both papers hint at further ways in which our understanding of early Chinese thought may continue to change in dramatic ways in years ahead!
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