Category Archives: Articles of Interest

2021 Dao Annual Best Essay Award

Dao has established “The Annual Best Essay Award” since 2007. The editorial board has just finished its deliberation on the best essay published in 2021, and the award is given to:

Benoit Vermander, “Edit by Number: Looking at the Composition of the Huainanzi, and Beyond.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 20 (2021): 459-498

Via a hermeneutics focused on numerology and concentric arrangements, the essay, which demonstrates familiarity with the germane historiography, literature, and theoretical apparatuses, offers an original construal of a textual universe in early China writings. Instead of taking for granted the organization and configuration, or the absence thereof, of these texts, it argues that there is a structural rhetoric. With particular reference to the Huainanzi, it lays bare the discernible and distinguishable patterns of textual composition while relating them to corresponding patterns of thinking. In so doing, it suggests the possibility and importance of looking beyond the writings’ intertextuality and toward their inter-structure.

The two runners-up are:

Yutang Jin, “Classic Confucian Thought and Political Meritocracy: A Text-based Critique.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 20 (2021): 433-458, and

Ian Sullivan, “The Need for More than Role Relations: Queer Lives, Social Group Identities, and Confucian Self-cultivation.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 20 (2021): 269-287

Springer has set the above three essays for free access.

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Article of Interest: The Idea of Liberty

Sha Li’s article “Yan Fu, John Seeley, and the Idea of Liberty” has recently been published in Modern China. “This article advances a more precise appreciation of Yan Fu’s idea of liberty based on a close and contextualized reading of his Lectures on Politics.” This interpretation “exposes [Yan’s] own persistent views and tendencies. Specifically, Yan’s text adopts Seeley’s literal, neutral concept of liberty while extending its use as security against political tyranny.”

Two new essays by Bin Song

Bin Song has recently published two essays that readers may find interesting:

“Donald Trump, Mao Zedong and Religious Anti-Intellectualism,” in Donald Trump in Historical Perspective: Dead Precedents, Edited by Michael Harvey (Routledge, 2022)

and

“The Utopian Seed of Modern Chinese Politics in Ruism (Confucianism) and its Tillichian Remedy,” in Why Tillich? Why Now?, Edited by Thomas G. Bandy (Mercer University Press, 2021)

New Article: Beaney, Swimming Happily in Chinese Logic

Michael Beaney has recently published “Swimming Happily in Chinese Logic” in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society; full text is available on-line here. The abstract:

Dipping in Chinese waters
pulled and pushed by Mo
we see how Zhuangzi caught us
like the happy fish we know
we follow their flow
words matching as they sort us
Enjoy!

Article of Interest: ‘Confucianism’, an Alternative Source of Belief in Contemporary Chinese Society

Lan Jiang-fu’s article “‘Confucianism’, an Alternative Source of Belief in Contemporary Chinese Society: An Empirical Study of the Founding of Xin 信 in a ‘Confucian’ Company” has just been published in the journal Religions.

Abstract:

Open claims to Confucian values, often associated with cultural traditionalism and a larger revival of Confucianism among the Chinese population from the 2000s onwards, have gained momentum in the world of entrepreneurs. The intensity of this phenomenon can be explained by a wide variety of motivations, among which a desire to establish a belief, a sort of xin 信 towards traditional values, has emerged from within the “Confucian” company. Based on fieldwork carried out between 2017 and 2018 at TW, a private company located in Dongguan (Guangdong), this paper aims to analyze the efforts undertaken by “Confucian” managers to use the spiritual guidance role of Confucianism. Our work is organized into three sections. First, we analyze the main modalities of proselytizing within TW. Then, based on the personal experiences of three employees of this company, we try to understand how they live the jiaohua and to what extent this “educational” experience inspired by Confucianism has allowed them to reorient themselves towards a new way of perceiving the world. Finally, by placing it in a broader context, that of contemporary Chinese society’s crisis of values, we question the role Confucianism can play in the foundation of a population’s beliefs.

The full text is available here.

Article of Interest: Batsch, “The Rationality Wars”

Readers may be interested in: Shadi Bartsch, “The Rationality Wars: The Ancient Greeks and the Counter-Enlightenment in Contemporary China,” History & Theory 59:4 (2020). Here’s the abstract:

Amid contemporary discussions about the relationship of logic to knowing, an entirely different conversation about the moral status of rationality is taking place between Chinese and Western thinkers. Although most would agree that deductive thought has been a highly privileged feature of the Western philosophical tradition since Plato (for good or bad), the question of its role in Confucian thought is less clear—and considerations of this topic tend to be highly charged. In turn, the question of whether the West has been tarred by a Weberian descent into a merely instrumental form of rationality has emerged as a hot topic in Chinese scholarship. However, the question merely supplies a way of engaging in cross‐cultural comparisons that are political rather than genuinely philosophical in nature. This article explores the sparring over terminology and concepts that characterizes this recent trend in scholarship. Ultimately, it suggests that instead of Chinese scholars appropriating the ideas of Western authors in order to raise anti‐Western specters of spiritual derangement, both traditions would be better off discarding this outdated and essentializing terminology in the first place.