THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Presents: Zhuangzi’s Robber Zhi: A Discussion
Presenter: Stephen Walker (University of Chicago)
Discussants: Timothy Connolly (East Stroudsburg University), Tao Jiang (Rutgers University), Qianyi Qin (CUNY Graduate Center), Hagop Sarkissian (CUNY Graduate Center & Baruch College)
ABSTRACT: This session will focus on the celebrated ‘Robber Zhi’ (盜跖) dialogue from the Miscellaneous Chapters (雜篇) of the Zhuangzi. In the dialogue, Kongzi (or Confucius) tries to persuade Robber Zhi to abandon his marauding ways and lead a more conventional life. While the character of Robber Zhi is obviously brutal, and a person few of us would want to emulate (or interact with in any way), he’s also strikingly insightful about human needs and frailties, and attentive to the more covert kinds of brutality we endure simply by living in organized societies. Not only does he raise the possibility that attempts to morally reform individuals might produce more harm than good, but he also embodies, in his own person, the pointlessness of making appeals to powerful persons who don’t value morality at all. The presenter will spend about 15 minutes summarizing the dialogue, and the discussants will spend about five minutes each raising points for discussion. The rest of the session will consist of Q&A. Those planning to attend are strongly encouraged to read the dialogue before the session begins. You can download a recent translation by Brook Ziporyn by clicking on this link.
DATE: November 6, 2020
TIME: 7:00-9:00 pm