Dag Herbjørnsrud has written a fascinating entry at the Journal of the History of Idea blog, which begins as follows…
A remarkable example of how ideas migrate across so-called cultural borders and change minds in unknown ways happened in the German city of Bremen on October 8, 1930. There, Martin Heidegger gave a speech based upon his masterwork Being and Time (1927). Afterwards, he and several of Bremen’s citizens gathered at the home of a wholesaler. During the evening, Heidegger suddenly turned to his host and asked, “Mister Kellner, would you please bring me the Parables of Zhuangzi? I would like to read some passages from it.”
THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Welcomes: ALEXUS MCLEOD (University of Connecticut)
With responses from: ANDREW MEYER (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
Please join us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2nd at 5:30PM for his lecture entitled:
“The Madman of Chu: The Problem of Mental Illness and Self-Cultivation in Early Chinese Texts”
ABSTRACT: In Confucian and Zhuangist texts of the Pre-Han and Han period, we see characters described as “crazy, mad” (狂 kuang), and find descriptions or discussions of madness or mad persons—most prominently the infamous Jieyu, “Madman of Chu”. I argue that madness is seen by Confucians and Zhuangists as a kind of moral deformity that moves one outside of the boundaries of ritual and society and thus full personhood—a fact that leads the Confucians to shun mad people, and the Zhuangist to praise them. Madness is seen not as a 病 bing (disorder, illness), but instead as based on a cultivated choice. Continue reading “Alexus McLeod – Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy Lecture: “The Madman of Chu: The Problem of Mental Illness and Self-Cultivation in Early Chinese Texts”, Dec. 2 @ 5:30pm”
Kim-chong Chong has published Zhuangzi’s Critique of the Confucians: Blinded by the Human (SUNY, 2016), which looks fascinating. Details here.
THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Welcomes: ERIC SCHWITZGEBEL (University of California Riverside)
With responses from: CHRISTOPHER GOWANS (Fordham University)
Please join us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on *THURSDAY*, OCTOBER 13th at 5:30PM for his lecture entitled:
“Death and Self in the Incomprehensible Zhuangzi”
ABSTRACT: The ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi defies interpretation. This is an inextricable part of the beauty and power of his work. The text – by which I mean the “Inner Chapters” of the text traditionally attributed to him, the authentic core of the book – is incomprehensible as a whole. It consists of shards, in a distinctive voice. Despite repeating imagery, ideas, style, and tone, these shards cannot be pieced together into a self-consistent philosophy. This lack of self-consistency is a positive feature of Zhuangzi. It is part of what makes him the great and unusual philosopher he is, defying reduction and summary. In this talk, I will look at Zhuangzi’s inconsistent remarks about death and the self. Continue reading “Eric Schwitzgebel – Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy Lecture: “Death and Self in the Incomprehensible Zhuangzi”, THURSDAY Oct.13 @ 5:30pm”
THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Welcomes: TAO JIANG (Rutgers University)
With responses from: ESKE MØLLGAARD (University of Rhode Island)
Please join us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd at 5:30PM for his lecture entitled:
“Between Philosophy and History: The Challenge of Authorship to Classical Chinese Philosophy in the Western Academy”
ABSTRACT: The tension between philosophical and historical inquiries has been a perennial problem. Within the modern academy, the disciplines of philosophy and history are protected by their respective institutional norm and practice, without much need for interaction. However, Chinese philosophy, situated between Sinology and philosophy in the western academy, has encountered extraordinary challenges from both Sinologists (most of whom are historians) and (Western) philosophers. At the root of the difficulty facing Chinese philosophy lies its very legitimacy, torn between the historicist orientation of Sinology and the presentist orientation of mainstream contemporary Western philosophy. Such divergent disciplinary norms have put scholars of Chinese philosophy in a difficult position. On the one hand, they have to defend the philosophical nature, or even the philosophical worthiness, of classical Chinese texts in front of contemporary Western philosophers whose interests tend to be more issue-driven and in the philosophical integrity of ideas, rather than the historicity of ideas. At the same time, these scholars of Chinese philosophy, when dealing with Sinologists, need to justify the basic premise of their philosophical approach to the classics due to the historical ambiguity and compositional instability of these texts. Continue reading “Tao Jiang – Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy Lecture: “Between Philosophy and History: The Challenge of Authorship to Classical Chinese Philosophy in the Western Academy”, Sep.23 @ 5:30pm”
The latest issue of Asian Philosophy has been published, with several articles on Daoism, among other things. See here.
Brook Ziporyn, Professor of Chinese Religion, Philosophy, and Comparative Thought in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, has recently been blogging at the Huffington Post. His most recent piece is titled “Death and the Atheist Mystic: Zhuangzi’s Last Words.” Check it out!
Scott Bradley has published a stimulating adaption/reflection of the Inner Chapters of Zhuangzi. Details are here; read on for Brook Ziporyn’s endorsement.
Continue reading “New Book on Zhuangzi”
Two new articles about the Peng Bird in as many days! Here’s one about a Zhuangzi-inspired art installation at the 56th Venice Biennale. More information on the installation, along with some pictures, here.
A new article by Bryan W. Van Norden at The National Interest.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has added some great new content related to Chinese philosophy, some of it discussed here. The latest is a new article on the Zhuangzi by Chad Hansen. (One of these days I hope I will finish my own article on “Chinese Social and Political Philosophy”….) Congratulations, Chad.
Three Pines Press proudly announces the second volume in our new series
Contemporary Chinese Scholarship in Daoist Studies
Rediscovering the Roots of Chinese Thought: Laozi’s Philosophy
by CHEN Guying, translated by Paul D’Ambrosio
paperback, 150 pages, bibliography, index
available January 1, 2015
prepublication special: US $22.50
ORDER NOW: www.threepinespress.com<http://www.threepinespress.com/>
Continue reading “New Book on Daoism”
The Dao Companion to Classical Chinese Philosophy has been published (Amazon link). Read on for more information. Continue reading “New Dao Companion Volume Published”
I have recently learned that Professor Zhan Shichuang 詹石窗 of Sichuan University is founding an English-language academic journal, Frontiers of Daoist Studies. Anyone interested in submitting work can contact Zhang Lijuan 张丽娟, a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Religious Studies, who represents the Editorial Office of the journal.
We are happy to welcome Carl Dull, a long-time blog reader and commentator, as a new contributor. Here is Carl’s self-introduction:
Carl J. Dull received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Southern Illinois University where he studied both Chinese and Western traditions. He has taught at the Nanjing School of Foreign Language and worked for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in Nanjing and Hong Kong. His major interest is early Chinese thought, especially Zhuangzi. His dissertation investigates wandering and the heart in Zhuangzi, and proposes various positive ethical ideals for caring for living. His current research looks at early Chinese thought as a resource for moral psychology and therapeutic practice. His previous work includes the power of inspiration in Confucius, the practical compatibility between Confucian principles and Human Rights, and the language games of Zhuangzi and Wittgenstein. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three Pines Press proudly announces the publication of Zhuangzi: Text and Context, by Livia Kohn, to appear in January 2014. (330 pages; Paperback:$35.95; prepublication special: $28.50 plus S & H.) For details and to order, please go to http://threepinespress.com/
We are also happy to present the table of contents for the next issue of the Journal of Daoist Studies (vol. 7), to be published in February 2014. For details, please see below.
Continue reading “New Journal of Daoist Studies, and New Zhuangzi book”
The second volume of Brook Ziporyn’s new work on li and coherence in pre-Neo-Confucian Chinese thought has been published. See below for summary and Table of Contents for both volumes.
Continue reading “Ziporyn’s Beyond Oneness and Difference Published”
Alan Levinovitz, recently of the Chicago Divinity School and now on the faculty at James Madison, wrote his dissertation on the idea of play in Zhuangzi. So it is quite appropriate that he managed to secure an interview with the elusive author of that work. Enjoy!
A forthcoming book:
Steve Coutinho, An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies (Columbia University Press, November 2013)
Steve Coutinho explores in detail the fundamental concepts of Daoist thought as represented in three early texts: the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and the Liezi. Readers interested in philosophy yet unfamiliar with Daoism will gain a comprehensive understanding of these works from this analysis, and readers fascinated by ancient China who also wish to grasp its philosophical foundations will appreciate the clarity and depth of Coutinho’s explanations.
Continue reading “New Book on Daoist Philosophy”
Over on Love of All Wisdom, Amod recently posted three Zhuangzi meditations in which our readers may be interested. Go have a look!
Here are the links:
The editorial board of Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy has completed its annual selection of the best essay. The winner of 2012 Dao Annual Best Essay Award is given to
“Instruction Dialogues in the Zhuangzi: An `Anthropological’ Reading” by Carine Defoort (Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11:459-478)
Congratulations to Carine!
Below is the official citation:
This essay provides a fresh reading of the ancient Chinese Daoist classic Zhuangzi. While the author claims that it is a non-philosophical reading, it turns out to be a philosophical reading that is most appropriate to the Zhuangzi and perhaps many if not all other ancient Chinese classics. The Zhuangzi authors, just like many other classical Chinese philosophers, were not so much interested, if at all, in theory building as in transformation of the person. Through a focus on the formal characteristics of the dialogues, careful textual analyses, perceptive interpretations, and coherent arguments, Dr. Defoort convincingly shows that the instruction of the Zhuangzi’s masters hint at the importance of non-teaching in various senses; it also focuses on attitudes and skills (knowing how) rather than knowledge (knowing that). The essay thus breaks ground not only in our interpretation of the Zhuangzi but also in our understanding of philosophy per se. It is the type of work that Dao promotes.
Long-time friend of the blog, Scott Barnwell, has posted his fourth installment exploring the question of whether there really is such a thing as “classical Daoism,” over on his blog, Bao Pu. Here are a couple of paragraphs; go over and check it out. Discuss there or here, as you wish — if here, please address all comments to Scott.
The purpose of this 4th essay is to explore these two texts to see what similarities and differences exist. If we understand a “school of thought” (modern Chinese: Xuepai ??) to refer to a system or complex of beliefs, ideas, values and methods, would the various authors of the Laozi and Zhuangzi constitute such a school, as is commonly believed? Or were they two different schools of thought with only slight overlap, perhaps a Laoist school and a Zhuangist school? Is there a “family resemblance” that exists between these two texts that does not between them and others, such as the Mengzi, Mozi, Hanfeizi or Yijing? Jia ?, which commonly meant “house” or “family,” has suggested to Harold Roth that Sima Tan’s use of it “implies that he thought of his six groups as having an important lineage dimension in which masters and disciples functioned according to a family model.” By positing a lineage of masters and disciples (= teachers and students) we come close to the idea of a school (of thought) as well, although whether the contributors to the Laozi and Zhuangzi were two branches of one lineage remains to be seen.
We’ve already explored the nature of ancient Chinese texts and some possible scenarios of how the texts came to be in the earlier essays, especially the 3rd one on Zhuangzi. We have hypothesized that the existence of the Laozi and Zhuangzi required some sort of lineage or group that had compiled and preserved (and added to) these texts, at least until the Han dynasty period where texts were sought out by regional rulers and the imperial government in order to preserve the classical legacy in various libraries. These groups need not have been large, and, further, we do not know if this lineage was unbroken, or whether decades went by where the texts sat neglected in boxes in people’s homes.
Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy
Volume 11, Issue 4, December 2012
Continue reading “TOC: Dao (Volume 11, Issue 4, December 2012)”
I am pleased to present a guest-post from Donald Sturgeon. Donald is a PhD candidate in philosophy at HKU and founder, editor, programmer, and general man-behind-the-curtain of the Chinese Text Project (ctext.org), an extremely useful online etext database with which many blog readers are familiar, I’m sure. Donald reports that according to Google Analytics, over the last 30 days the site has exceeded 1 million page views and 100,000 unique visitors! Please address all comments to Donald.
The Daoist Nazi Problem
Suppose there is a person, or a group of people, committed to practicing what we can for convenience call a “Nazi Dao”: a Dao that, though practically successful from the perspective of its followers, involves commitment to some abhorrent practices that all “right-minded people” would condemn as exemplary immoral acts that should be universally condemned – “killing innocent babies for fun”, for example.
What can a Zhuangist – someone committed to a relativist position about differing practices and the nature of their justification, questioning of conventionally accepted values, and skeptical about certain kinds of knowledge – say about such a Dao? Can he condemn it? Is it a “bad” Dao, and if so in what sense? Or is it just as good a Dao as any other? Continue reading “The Daoist Nazi Problem”
[Scott Barnwell posts Part 3 of his series “Classical Daoism – Is There Really Such a Thing?,” parts 1 and 2 of which also appear here and here at WW&W. We’re using the “Reblog” function for the first time. Feel welcome to initiate discussion here or on his own site. In any case, please direct all comments or questions to Scott. – Manyul]
Guest-poster Eric Schwitzgebel wonders:
Is it Psychologically Possible for the Skeptic to Suspend All Belief?
Please address your comments to Eric, who will be checking in here periodically. (See also discussion on Eric’s own blog.) Continue reading “Is it Psychologically Possible for the Skeptic to Suspend All Belief”
On a tip from friend of the blog and guest blogger, Mark Saltveit, here’s a link to a translation of the Zhuangzi by Livia Kohn. You can preview part of it by clicking on the “Google Preview.” Anyone know anything about this? It seems to have been translated for a non-academic press — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Any thoughts about Kohn’s translation choices, either based on the Google preview or from knowledge of the translation otherwise acquired?
This is going to be a ridiculous post. Try to also read it ridiculously.
I have always had a hard time understanding the Zhuangzi. In addition to this being due to my Confucian sensibilities (perhaps), it’s also due to the sheer strangeness of the Zhuangzi. Both from a stylistic and a philosophical standpoint, the Zhuangzi is radically different from other philosophical texts of its day (assuming it’s a primarily Warring States text). Strange stories and cryptic sayings blend (almost seamlessly) with more formal arguments and discussions. Jokes and wisecracks are interspersed with apparently serious exhortations and analyses. This, as many who have tried to interpret the Zhuangzi can attest, makes for difficult interpretation. It is never quite clear whether a certain passage is meant in jest or as something we’re supposed to take seriously, and sometimes we simply have to resort to what amounts to interpretive guesswork to decide one way or the other. Continue reading “Listening Ridiculously and the Oddity of the Zhuangzi”
The butcher Ding cuts up an ox with the grace of a ritual performer and in the process shows us how to take care of life—or so suggests Book 3 of the Zhuangzi. A fair number of scholars have taken this to be the text’s intended solution to the worries of Book 2. We may not be able to tell right from wrong in some ultimate sense, but we can achieve a kind of local certainty by taking care of life in the course of skilled activity.
But as with sagely gestures elsewhere in the Zhuangzi, there are reasons to hesitate. Foremost among them is the fact that in Book 2 itself we find comments about three skilled masters that seem to take up essentially the same worries that the butcher’s skilled activity supposedly solves. Continue reading “A Certain Butcher?”