Category Archives: Book Review

New issue of China Review International

The latest issue of China Review International has been published, and is available here. It is labelled Volume 23, Number 3, 2016; after being on hiatus for a while, the journal has lately been more active. This issue includes some reviews the will be of interest to WW&W readers, including my review of Ming-huei Lee, Confucianism: Its Roots and Global Significance; and Thomas Michael’s review of Michael D. K. Ing, The Vulnerability of Integrity in Early Confucian Thought.

Gowans Reviews Fiordalis (ed.), Buddhist Spiritual Practices

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2018.09.08 View this Review Online   View Other NDPR Reviews

David V. Fiordalis (ed.), Buddhist Spiritual Practices: Thinking with Pierre Hadot on Buddhism, Philosophy, and the Path, Mangalam, 2018, 328pp., $35.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780898001174.

Reviewed by Christopher W. Gowans, Fordham University

Pierre Hadot’s interpretation of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy in terms of “philosophy as a way of life” constituted by “spiritual exercises” has received considerable attention from scholars of the period as well as by persons who welcome his defense of a way of doing philosophy that is more practical than dominant academic approaches today. Though Hadot is not without his critics (for example, questions have been raised about the adequacy of his historical claims),[1] his approach also has been seen as a point of view for interpreting non-Western philosophies. This has been true especially of Buddhist philosophy. The present collection of essays, based on a 2015 conference, is a welcome addition to the increasing number of readings of Buddhist philosophy from the perspective of Hadot. I will briefly summarize the essays and then offer some suggestions in light of them on some ways in which Hadot may be beneficial for our understanding Buddhist philosophy.

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Using _Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction_ in class

I used Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction as the main textbook in a course on Neo-Confucianism this past semester. Student comments on the book (submitted anonymously as part of the teaching evaluation process) are available here. If any readers have used the book, Justin and I would love any further feedback! (I’d also be happy to share similar information about other course books, for other authors out there.)

Cokelet Reviews Bommarito, Inner Virtue

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2018.07.10 View this Review Online   View Other NDPR Reviews

Nicolas Bommarito, Inner Virtue, Oxford University Press, 2017, 208pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190673383.

Reviewed by Bradford Cokelet, University of Kansas

This clear, engaging book proposes a manifest care account of inner virtue and vice — an account explaining when and why inner states such as pleasure, pain, envy, and gratitude make us better or worse people. As far as I know, this is the only contemporary book devoted to the topic of inner virtue, and Bommarito admirably establishes it as an important and interesting one. In addition, it is worth noting that this book will appeal to non-philosophic and even non-academic audiences; the engaging style and numerous entertaining examples will make it easy and fun for readers to think about various inner virtues and join the search for a general account.

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Blake Reviews Moeller and D’Ambrosio, Genuine Pretending

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2018.06.18 View this Review Online   View Other NDPR Reviews

Hans-Georg Moeller and Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Genuine Pretending: On the Philosophy of the Zhuangzi, Columbia University Press, 2017, 221 pp., $35.00, ISBN 9780231183994.

Reviewed by Susan Blake, Bard College

“A romp through ‘the vast wilds of open nowhere'” — Roger Ebert

“Better than any existing work on humor” — Aristotle

“Nothing more than a success” — Guy Smiley

“A demonstration of nothing . . . in a technical sense” — Ford Prefect

“A tour de force through the ‘homeland of non-even-anything'” — Steven Colbert

This book presents a novel reading of the Zhuangzi that illuminates its humor and presents it as responding to philosophical concerns of its day. To the extent that these philosophical concerns are also those of the present day — the search for a sane and healthy response to the impossible demands of sincerity — we can, through the discussion here, gain an understanding of an alternative to the unsatisfying ethical approaches of both sincerity and authenticity. The book is impressive in bringing together diverse passages in this difficult text under one interpretation.

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Tucker Reviews Yusa, ed., Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Philosophy

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2018.06.13 View this Review Online   View Other NDPR Reviews

Michiko Yusa, (ed.), The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Philosophy, Bloomsbury, 2017, 391pp., $158.40, ISBN 9781474232692.

Reviewed by John A. Tucker, East Carolina University

This book is a valuable contribution to the rapidly growing field of Japanese philosophy. A nicely produced anthology, it includes a thoughtful introduction by the editor, Michiko Yusa, fourteen erudite essays subdivided into five sections, plus a convenient summary of the essays, notes on the contributors, an account of abbreviations and conventions, an appendix including two essays by Nishida Kitarō, a timeline with dates for the thinkers discussed, an index of Japanese texts cited, and a more traditional index, including kanji, of names and terms mentioned in the anthology. Overall, the scholarly apparatuses included make this volume an extraordinarily well-organized and helpful resource for those conducting scholarly explorations of Japanese philosophy.

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Feature review of books on Ming thought

The latest Journal of Asian Studies (Volume 77 / Issue 2, May 2018, pp 500 – 506) contains a feature review titled “The Lively World of Ming Dynasty Thought” by Katherine Carlitz, covering three recent books on Ming thought:

  • Symptoms of an Unruly Age: Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity. By Rivi Handler-Spitz. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. xiii, 239 pp. ISBN: 9780295741505 (cloth, also available as e-book).
  • Li Mengyang, the North-South Divide, and Literati Learning in Ming China. By Chang Woei Ong. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. xi, 354 pp. ISBN: 9780674970595 (cloth).
  • Confucian Image Politics: Masculine Morality in Seventeenth-Century China. By Ying Zhang. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. xvi, 306 pp. ISBN: 9780295998534 (cloth, also available as e-book).