NDPR Sungmoon Kim Theorizing Confucian Virtue Politics: The Political Philosophy of Mencius and Xunzi (Reviewed by Tim Connolly, East Stroudsburg University)
“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…”
Oxford University Press has just published my new book on early Confucian social thought, and what contemporary people might learn from it: Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority. The publisher’s page is here. At present the cheapest way to purchase it is directly from Oxford, with a discount code for 30% off (AAFLYG6).
This comes with hearty thanks to Steve Angle and Bryan Van Norden, who were belatedly revealed as the press’s referees.
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly periodically publishes essays in Chinese or comparative philosophy; in the latest issue, Richard Kim has an essay called “Human Nature and Moral Sprouts: Mencius on the Pollyanna Problem.” Check it out!
This clip (below) from Louis CK’s most recent interview on Conan made a splash on social networks. The whole thing is pretty funny, but the first minute or so reminded me of Mencius 1A7.
Part of what prevents the king in 1A7 from becoming a genuine king in that passage is his disconnect from his subjects. He feels the suffering of the ox and this tugs at his sprout of compassion. By contrast, he doesn’t see the suffering of his subjects, so he feels no sympathy for them and fails to treat them benevolently.
Louis CK raises the same general issue for children today and cellphone use. Continue reading →
Passage 3B10 in the Mengzi stood out during my last read through the text. In 3B10 Mengzi tells the story of Chen Zhongzi, who in seeking purity (lian 廉) refused to eat his mother’s food or live in his brother’s house (believing that his brother had not rightly [buyi 不義] attained his salary and home). Mengzi’s critique of Chen Zhongzi is that “only an earthworm could fill out [the values] he holds to” 蚓而後充其操, which I take to mean that living in the human world (i.e., a world of complex relationships) entails living a life where one cannot live to such a degree of purity and at the same time realize other (often more important) values. Mengzi seems to have similar sentiments about figures such as Bo Yi in passage 5B1. While he praises Bo Yi (and Chen Zhongzi in 3B10), being too lian 廉 or qing 清 is problematic for Mengzi. Continue reading →