Bryn Mawr Classical Review has published a review by Brian Black and Nathan Gilbert of Christopher W. Gowans’s book Self-cultivation philosophies in ancient India, Greece, and China (Oxford, 2021). Click here to read the review.
A book symposium on Sungmoon Kim’s Democracy after Virtue: Toward Pragmatic Confucian Democracy (OUP, 2019) has recently been published in the newest issue of The Good Society. Click here to see the last six articles. The contributors are Isak Tranvik, John Dryzek, Stephen Macedo, Brooke Ackerly, and Zhouyao Li.
Jay L. Garfield, Buddhist Ethics: A Philosophical Exploration, Oxford University Press, 2022, 231pp., $24.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780190907648.
Reviewed by Richard P. Hayes, The University of New Mexico
This book is a contribution to the series “Buddhist Philosophy for Philosophers,” which so far also has a monograph on Buddhist epistemology and one on Buddhist metaphysics. As with the other books in the series, Jay Garfield’s book is written primarily for philosophers who are open to exploring Buddhist approaches to ethics rather than for philologists or historians of Buddhist thought, although scholars in Buddhist studies also stand to benefit from reflecting on Garfield’s presentation. As the author makes clear from the outset, Buddhists have not until recently written much that could be considered metaethical in nature. Ethicists accustomed to…
Bryn Mawr Classical Review (see here)
Andrea Balbo and Jaewon Ahn, Confucius and Cicero: old ideas for a new world, new ideas for an old world. Roma Sinica, 1. Berlin; Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2019. Pp. 222. ISBN 9783110616606. £65.50.
Reviewed by Dan Zhao, University of Cambridge. email@example.com
Born from a conference in 2017, this edited volume seeks to pioneer a new series in comparative studies: Roma Sinica: Mutual Interactions between Ancient Roman and Eastern Thought. The series is nothing short of ambitious: ‘Roma Sinica sets out to open new perspectives in comparative studies, taking a multidisciplinary approach within the humanities and offering scholars (…) an opportunity to exchange ideas’. This particular volume, focusing on a comparison of Confucius and Cicero, brings together sinologists, Classicists, and comparative historians. It establishes itself firmly in the budding field of Sino-Roman comparative studies as one of the first works to examine two individuals, rather than comparing broader social, political, or economic frameworks. The volume is split into five sections. Sections A and E form the introduction and conclusion of the work, respectively. Section B concentrates on philosophy. Section C investigates the translation of Confucian works in Latin. Section D takes a broader view, examining philosophy, literature, and culture in general.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Bongrae Seok (ed.), Naturalism, Human Flourishing, and Asian Philosophy: Owen Flanagan and Beyond, Routledge, 2020, 256pp., $160.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780367350246.
Reviewed by L. K. Gustin Law, University of Chicago
This volume includes contributions engaging the works of Owen Flanagan, as well as his responses to them. As Flanagan’s works cut across conventional academic boundaries, so does the contributors’ expertise fall under different disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, religion, and Asian studies. Each essay either compares Flanagan’s view with a Ruist (Confucian) or Buddhist counterpart or addresses his engagement with it. It is a scholarly and illuminating book for those interested in the enduring significance of Mengzi’s ethical psychology or Buddhism, the rich and diverse accounts of mind that fall under the label of “Buddhism,” Flanagan’s naturalism, the way he adapts and naturalizes Buddhism for a model of human flourishing, or how intellectual enterprises of independent origins might enter into fruitful dialogue. Navigating all these is made easier by the editor, Bongrae Seok, who masterfully summarizes the contributions, highlighting the significance of each and their connections to one another.
“Confucian political theory offers a normative vision for contemporary societies that draws on concepts from thinkers in the Chinese philosophical tradition initiated by Confucius (551-479 BCE). Much of the recent work in this area is motivated by dialogue with mainstream Western political theory, focusing on questions of Confucianism’s compatibility with liberal democracy. Yet as Sungmoon Kim writes in the opening pages of the book, these attempts to establish dialogue have tended to look at general characteristics of the classical Confucian tradition, giving less attention to internal debates and disagreements within this tradition. Kim’s book is devoted to a reconstruction of…”
Continue reading on ndpr.nd.edu
See the latest issue of the Journal of Chinese Studies for the review.
Notre Dame Philosophical Review
Joshua R. Brown and Alexus McLeod, Transcendence and Non-Naturalism in Early Chinese Thought, Bloomsbury, 2021, 245pp., $115.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781350082533.
Reviewed by Bin Song, Washington College
To paraphrase Kant’s words on enlightenment, I propound that on the topic of transcendence and non-naturalism in Chinese and comparative philosophy, although we do not have a reckoned book yet, we finally have a book of reckoning. Joshua R. Brown and Alexus McLeod discern two major reasons why scholars assume there is no robust idea of transcendence, and hence, take naturalism as an inevitable lens for interpreting early Chinese thought: Firstly, some of these scholars would like to find in early Chinese thought something that is different from the West, mainly from Christianity. Secondly, some of them would like to find in early Chinese thought something that looks the same as the West, viz., the same as the scientific and analytic mindset prevalent in Western academia since early modern Europe.
Continue reading →
My review of Daniel Bell and Wang Pei’s book Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World (Princeton, 2020) has been published in Ethics; see here. The review ends as follows:
…Perhaps a different approach is in order, one more rooted in China’s dynamic traditions than in the modernism that colors some of Bell and Wang’s thinking. Recalling Zhang Zai’s Western Inscription, we could think about the relationality inherent in the entire, ever-changing cosmos and conceptualize these relations through various degrees of kinship. Care, attention, reciprocity, mutuality, learn- ing, and growth would be the watchwords of such a perspective. There is an important place for just—or maybe more accurately, humane or harmonious—hierarchy in such a vision, and Bell and Wang can be important conversation partners in working out what is and what is not valuable among both traditional and more recent forms of social differentiation. Much of this differentiation (such as sexism and racism) needs strong critique, but at the same time, there is reason to agree with Aaron Stalnaker’s concern that modernity in many societies has been characterized by a “systematic pathologization of dependence” (Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020], 24). Drawing on Wang and Bell’s book and also on more thoroughgoing efforts to engage with traditional philosophical resources from around the world, it should be possible to identify and defend unequal but healthy forms of social cooperation.