AAR Panel Invitation

As the co-chair of the Confucian Traditions Group in the American Academy of Religion, I wanted to bring to your attention the invitation below to form a panel for the annual conference, which will be held in Denver from 19 November through 22 November. Christopher Yang, a graduate student at Brown University, is the organizer. He can be contacted at christopher_yang@brown.edu for further information. Proposals for the conference are due March 1.

On “Religion” Versus “Philosophy” in the Study of Chinese Texts and Traditions
Ever since Jesuit missionaries cast Confucius as “sinarum philosophus” and Enlightenment thinkers seized on the notion of a people who had arrived at an ethics without recourse to theism, “religion” and “philosophy” have often operated as conjoined yet opposite terms in the analysis of Chinese texts and traditions. Take, for just one example, the longevity of the distinction between philosophical and religious Daoism and the ways in which it has influenced the way we talk about the early Zhuangzi 莊子versus the later Zhen’gao 真告. This panel solicits papers that reflect on the histories and consequences of this distinction in and for research about Chinese materials. How has it governed the reception and organization of our shared objects of study, whether at the local bookstore or the academic conference? What does it mean—and it clearly means different things to different people—to engage our materials qua philosophy, over against religion, and vice versa? What are the historical sources of this distinction and the shapes it has assumed in its application to the Chinese data, and are we helped or hamstrung by it? What, if any, are the alternatives?

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