2014 Dao Annual Best Essay Award Announcement

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, has been conducting the annual selection of the best essay since 2007. Its editorial board has just completed its deliberation in selecting the best paper published in 2014, and the award winner is Professor Peimin Ni of Grand Valley State University, for his paper, “Seek and You Will Find It; Let Go and You Will Lose It: Exploring a Confucian Approach to Human Dignity” (Dao 13 [2014]: 173-198). Congratulations, Peimin!

The selection proceeds with two stages. At the first stage, a selection committee consisting of three editorial board members was formed to select three best essays from all those published in the award year; at the second stage, these three papers were presented to the whole editorial board, whose members each provide separate rankings of the three papers, and the paper receiving the overall highest ranking wins the award.

Following its tradition, as part of the award, the Journal will organize a panel discussion on this award-winning essay at Eastern APA in Washington DC in January 2016. In addition to a brief award ceremony, at which a certificate and a check of $1000 will be presented to the award winner, the panel will consist of the award winner’s brief summary of the paper, two commentators’ comments on the paper, and the award winner’s response to their comments, before the floor is open for discussion. Please come to this panel if you plan to go to this APA.

Here is the official citation of the award winning paper:


Peimin Ni, “Seek and You Will Find It; Let Go and You Will Lose It: Exploring a Confucian Approach to Human Dignity” (Dao 13 [2014]: 173-198)

Despite the fact that human dignity is a modern Western conception, which is absent in Confucianism, an ancient Chinese tradition, Peimin Ni presents a convincing argument for taking seriously an implicit Confucian account of human dignity, a unique feature of which is that human dignity is an achievement rather than a right. While it is significant in its own light, Ni also makes a strong case that it can resolve the two dilemmas underlying the modern Western conception of human dignity, one involving the question of whether human dignity is based on some inherent human properties, and another the question of whether the inalienability of human dignity is factual or normative. Moving skillfully between the ancient and modern and between the Chinese and the Western, Ni’s paper is both textually well-grounded and philosophically innovative. It exemplifies the type of comparative philosophy that Dao aims to promote.

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