Category Archives: Moral Psychology

Louis CK and Mengzi

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 →

Review of Book on Shame

Shame is an important idea in Confucianism, as several blog readers and contributors have noted. From the following review, it sounds like the position of this book’s authors might resonate well with Confucian perspectives in several respects (though the perspective of the reviewer might come even closer!).

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2013.08.35 View this Review Online   View Other NDPR Reviews

Julien A, Deonna, Raffaele Rodogno, and Fabrice Teroni, In Defense of Shame: The Faces of an Emotion, Oxford University Press, 2012, 268pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199793532.

Reviewed by Jason A. Clark, Institute for Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrueck

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New Book: Springer, Communicating Moral Concern

cmc My Wesleyan University colleague Elise Springer’s new book, Communicating Moral Concern: An Ethics of Critical Responsiveness (MIT Press, 2013) has just been published, and I’d like to recommend it to all blog readers with interests in comparative ethics, especially if you are tempted by the idea that the job of moral philosophers — and indeed, our jobs as moral agents — are not exhausted by making determinations of what the “right action” is. Her view is that such “verdicts” have at most a small place in our daily efforts to live good lives, and this rich and fascinating book explores the rest of the terrain. In the words of one of my teachers:

“This book is simply spectacular. I am stunned by its originality, intellectual sophistication, philosophical maturity, and depth of vision. I learned new things from virtually every page. Philosophers have a huge bias in favor of examining already articulated judgments, and thereby ignore the incredibly difficult and important work of developing an articulation of what is the matter. Elise Springer persuasively argues that this work deserves sustained attention in its own right, and offers new conceptual tools for making sense of what we are doing at that stage.” — Elizabeth Anderson, John Rawls Collegiate Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan

As if that wasn’t enough, in a few places Elise explicitly engages with Confucian ideas, and in general is very open to a broadly global scope of philosophical endeavor. I myself find a great deal of continuity between her work and current work at the nexus of Confucianism, moral psychology, moral education/cultivation, and virtue ethics, though I also find some of her key ideas very challenging to certain Confucian pieties. Finally, while it is only available in hardcover right now, at Amazon the price is only a little over US$30.00 :-).

Against Empathy

The following article in this week’s New Yorker by Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has been circulating in social networks:

The Baby in the Well: The Case Against Empathy

Despite what many of us on this blog might initially wonder, the title of the paper does not refer to Mencius’s famous thought experiment.  (Instead, it refers to the famous case of an actual child in a well that led to a worldwide media circus in the 1980s.)  Nonetheless, the article may be of interest to those of us working in Confucian ethics and moral psychology.

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Bongrae Seok lecture at Columbia this Friday

THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY welcomes BONGRAE SEOK (Alvernia University), with formal responses by HAGOP SARKISSIAN (Baruch College, CUNY). Please join us in RM 101 IN THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGION  at Columbia University on November 11th at 5:30 for his lecture entitled, “Embodied Moral Psychology of Confucian Heart.” Continue reading →