Daily Archives: November 4, 2015

Seok reviews Slingerland, Trying Not to Try

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2015.11.05 View this Review Online   View Other NDPR Reviews

Edward Slingerland, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity, Crown, 2014, 295pp., $26.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780770437619.

Reviewed by Bongrae Seok, Alvernia University

In his recent book, Edward Slingerland explains and analyzes one of the unique ideas of Chinese philosophy, viz., wu-wei (無爲). The term is used mostly in Daoist texts, but the concept is discussed broadly in many schools of Chinese philosophy. Wu-wei is usually translated as non-action or non-doing, but it does not mean not doing anything. Rather it means doing things in a spontaneous and natural manner. If you act without a strongly imposed or premeditated intention or will, you are very close to the natural flow of wu-wei. Chinese philosophy, whether it is Confucianism or Daoism, focuses on the question of living a meaningful and happy life with a sustained effort to achieve natural spontaneity. Yet this specific ideal of spontaneity hasn’t been fully articulated and explained in philosophy. With his broad understanding of Chinese philosophy and cognitive science, Slingerland provides a coherent picture of how the ancient Chinese wisdom of wu-wei can be defined, explained, and promoted.

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More Jobs in Chinese/Asian/Comparative Philosophy

I have noticed several relevant jobs being listed at PhilJobs:

  • First, a biggie: Roger Ames is retiring from the University of Hawaii, and they are searching for a replacement, at the Associate or Full Professor level.
  • Bryn Mawr College is searching for an Assistant Professor with a specialization in either philosophy of science and epistemology or comparative philosophy (East and West).
  • Loyola University Maryland is searching for an open-rank position in “some tradition of non-Western philosophy.”

This is in addition to position previously noted here (search for the category “Job Opening”).

New Book Series

Studies in Comparative Political Theory (Oxford University Press)

Editor: Diego von Vacano (Texas A&M University)

Consulting Editors: Andrew March (Yale) and Leigh Jenco (LSE)

The book series will seek to publish the best new research in Comparative Political Theory. We understand this term in a broad sense, as work that goes beyond traditional Western canonical approaches to major political questions or problems. We are especially interested in work that is comparative (deals with two or more distinctive cultural traditions in political thought) and which comes from the discipline of Political Theory in Political Science. However, other approaches and disciplines such as History, Philosophy, Anthropology, and Sociology are welcome. Interdisciplinary perspectives on cardinal political issues will also be of interest.

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This Friday’s Columbia Neo-Confucianism Seminar

The next session of the Columbia University Seminar on Neo-Confucian Studies will convene Friday, November 6, 2015 from 3:30 to 5:30pm in the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.

Eske Mollgaard will present the paper “Can Confucians Universalize Themselves?”  Please contact the organizers for a copy.

All are welcome to attend. Please join us after the seminar for dinner at a location to be announced.

If you have any questions, contact one of our organizers: Ari Borrell (aborrell@msn.com), Tao Jiang (tjiang@rci.rutgers.edu), or Deborah Sommer (dsommer@gettysburg.edu).