Confucianism at 2022 American Academy of Religion meetings

The American Academy of Religion is happy to announce that they will be having a 2022 meeting in Denver. The conference will have three sessions sponsored by the Confucian Traditions Unit. The meetings will be taking place November 19-22 in Denver Colorado. The three main themes are as follows: “Confucianism Enchanted: Narratives and Liturgies of Confucian Deities,” “Author Meets Critics: Mercedes Valmisa’s Adapting: A Chinese Philosophy of Action,” and roundtable on Tao Jiang’s book Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China. See here to for more information on the conference itself, and read on for details on the three panels.

Confucian Traditions Unit
Theme: Confucianism Enchanted: Narratives and Liturgies of Confucian Deities
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Hyatt Regency-Mineral A (Third Level)

Hwa Yeong Wang, Emory University, Presiding
A quick Google search with the words “Confucian deities” leads us to a site which states, “There are no Confucian gods, and Confucius himself is worshipped as a spirit rather than a god.”  Since Confucianism is conventionally regarded as a philosophy rather than a religion, “Confucian deities” appears to be an oxymoron.  However, during the imperial era of China’s history, the Confucian state had a large pantheon of deities who required annual sacrifices.  This panel’s essays shed light on the respect that Confucian deities commanded in pre-modern China.  The gods addressed in the state religion were of such import that their sacrifices warranted the court’s upmost attention.  Many believed that the highest Confucian deity could intervene in daily life, and through the phenomenon of spirit-writing, literati could ask for help from past Confucian heroes who could dispense advice suitable for the present.
• Thomas A. Wilson, Hamilton College
Confucian Ritual Hermeneutics of Gods
• Keith Knapp, The Citadel
The High Deity as Head Honcho: Anthropomorphic Images of Heaven in Medieval Didactic Tales
• Daniel Burton-Rose, Wake Forest University
Apotheosized Confucians on an Early Qing Spirit-Writing Altar

Qiong Zhang, Wake Forest University

Confucian Traditions Unit
Theme: Author Meets Critics: Mercedes Valmisa’s Adapting: A Chinese Philosophy of Action (Oxford University Press, 2021)
Monday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Hyatt Regency-Silver A (Third Level)

Aaron Stalnaker, Indiana University, Presiding
A dominant view in Western thought is that human beings are subjects who relate to objects and other subjects through actions that spring purely from our own intentions and will. Chinese thinkers, however, show how mistaken this conception of action is. Mercedes Valmisa’s book is the first monograph dedicated to the exploration and rigorous reconstruction of an extraordinary strategy for efficacious relational action devised by Confucian and other Chinese philosophers, one which attempts to account for the interdependent and embedded character of human agency–what Valmisa calls “adapting” or “adaptive agency.” Valmisa breaks new ground in Chinese and comparative thought by constructing meaningful theories of action that generate fresh ways to understand humanity and relationality, as well as agency, orientation and initiative. This panel will bring Valmisa together with three scholars of Chinese philosophy to think through her work.

Michael Ing, Indiana University
Sarah Mattice, University of North Florida
Julianne Chung, York University

Mercedes Valmisa, Gettysburg College

Business Meeting
Michael Ing, Indiana University, Presiding
Aaron Stalnaker, Indiana University, Presiding

Comparative Religious Ethics Unit and Confucian Traditions Unit
Theme: Roundtable on Tao Jiang’s book Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China (Oxford University Press, 2021)
Monday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Convention Center-503 (Street Level)

Jingjing Li, Leiden University, Presiding
Tao Jiang’s new book, Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China (OUP 2021) offers a new narrative of classical Chinese philosophy with an emphasis on normative dimensions of the early texts. It makes three key points. First, the central intellectual challenge during the Warring States period was how to negotiate the relationships between the personal, the familial, and the political domains when philosophers were reimagining a new sociopolitical order. Second, the competing visions can be characterized as a contestation between impartialist justice and partialist humaneness, with the Confucians, the Mohists, the Laoists, and the fajia thinkers being the major participants, constituting the mainstream intellectual project during this period. Third, Zhuangzi and the Zhuangists were the outliers of the mainstream moral-political debate during this period who rejected the very parameter of humaneness versus justice in the mainstream debate. Zhuangzi and the Zhuangists were a lone voice advocating personal freedom.

Jin Y Park, American University
On-cho Ng, Pennsylvania State University
Michael Puett, Harvard University

Tao Jiang, Rutgers University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.