THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Welcomes: Erica Brindley (Penn State University)
With a response from: Christopher Gowans (Fordham University)
Please join on us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on FRIDAY, November 2nd at 5:30 PM for her lecture entitled:
Spontaneous Arising and an Ethics of Creativity in Early Daoism
ABSTRACT: In the early part of the 20th century, Joseph Needham formulated a substantial claim concerning the Chinese predilection for self-generated creation rather than creator gods and myths. Half a century later, scholars working in the West like Frederick Mote, Derk Bodde, and Chang Kwang-chih picked up on Needham’s insight to discuss the so-called lack of a “creation myth” in early Chinese culture, basing their arguments on what they called the “inner necessity” or “spontaneously self-generating” nature of things in the cosmos. While the claim that there are no creator gods or myths in early China is false and has since been convincingly refuted by many scholars, there may indeed be a way in which Bodde and company were onto something. In this talk, I will show how the notions of “inner necessity” and “spontaneity” are close but not the best fit for understanding certain early Chinese accounts of creation and the creative process. Through an analysis of claims about time, space, and boundaries in the recently excavated text, the Heng xian (The Primordial state of Constancy), I present an account of creativity – not “inner necessity” or “spontaneity” – that presupposes a rich and complicated philosophy of the self and change in the world. I make brief comparisons with ancient Vedic and Buddhist thought and ultimately show how scholars of early Chinese philosophy could benefit from more comparative work on these various traditions.
Friday, November 2nd, 5:30-7:30 PM
Rm. 101, 80 Claremont Ave., Columbia University