Experimental Philosophy Through History – February 2, 2016 at NYU

Many of you know me as a scholar of Chinese philosophy. But I also have research interests that I pursue through the methods of experimental philosophy, which seeks to investigate philosophical questions through the methods of the empirical sciences (in my case, experimental psychology).

I’m co-organizing this workshop with Joshua Knobe and Kevin Tobia (Yale), which will concern (as its name implies) questions at the intersection of history of philosophy and experimental philosophy. It seems that many of the questions that have arisen recently in debates about experimental philosophy have also been discussed in other periods in the history of philosophy, including general issues surrounding armchair and experimental approaches to philosophy. We thought it would be helpful to hold a workshop in which scholars working in the history of philosophy could discuss these issues.

In my presentation, I will be outlining the ways in which this basic dynamic has played out in some periods in the history of Chinese philosophy. For example, Confucian philosophers have historically been divided about both the substantive commitments of Confucian ethics, as well as the proper methods of acquiring moral knowledge. My presentation will focus on the latter, tracing a debate that emerges in the classical thinkers Mengzi (Mencius) and Xunzi on the role of innate knowledge vs systematic study in acquiring moral knowledge, through later Neo-Confucian thinkers such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. 

The conference will be held at New York University on February 20th, from 10:00 AM to 6:15 PM. The conference features six presentations, each with a paired commentary. I’m thrilled to have our own Steve Angle commenting on my paper.

More details can be found here (including a full schedule in due time).

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