- Prof. Stephen Angle (Wesleyan University), “The Analects and Modern Moral Philosophy” (Monday 3 May, 3-4.30pm BST)
- Prof. LI Chenyang (Nanyang Technological University), “Li as Cultural Grammar: On the Relation Between Li and Ren in Confucius’ Analects” (Monday 17 May, 10-11.30am BST)
- Prof. TAN Sor-Hoon (Singapore Management University), “Confucian Democracy and the Analects” (Monday 31 May, 10-11.30am BST)
Stephen C. Angle, “The Analects and Modern Moral Philosophy”
This lecture explores the advantages and disadvantages of viewing the Analects through the lens of contemporary moral theory. It looks in particular at Kantian deontology, which Sinophone scholarship on the text has tended to stress; virtue ethics, which is more prominent in Anglophone secondary literature; and role ethics, which has emerged as a potential alternative to both deontology and virtue ethics. These discussions reveal that Sinophone and Anglophone philosophers are starting to engage one another, which is helping to spur the related (though not identical) process of dialogue between Western and Chinese philosophical traditions. Concern about an unhealthy hegemony of Western categories is by no means a thing of the past, but we are beginning to see glimpses of a future that is pluralistic, open, and global.
LI Chenyang, “Li as Cultural Grammar: On the Relation Between Li and Ren in Confucius’ Analects”
A major controversy in the study of the Analects has been over the relation between the two central concepts of li (rites, rituals of propriety) and ren (humanity, human excellence). Confucius seems to have said inconsistent things about this relation. Some passages appear to suggest that ren is more fundamental than li, while others seem to imply the contrary, and it is therefore not surprising that there have been different interpretations and characterizations. In this presentation, I will present an interpretation that I believe best characterizes the relation between li and ren. Using the analogy of language grammar and mastery of a language, I propose that we should understand li as a cultural grammar and ren as the mastery of a culture. In this account, society cultivates its members through li toward the goal of ren.
TAN Sor-Hoon, “Confucian Democracy and the Analects”
There has been a lively debate over the relationship of Confucianism to democracy. Samuel Huntington’s dismissal of Confucian democracy as an oxymoron has been overtaken by a variety of different proposals on whether or not the Confucian political ideal could be democratic. Disagreements among the participants in this debate include issues to do with interpretation of Confucian canonical texts, the most important of which is arguably the Analects. This talk will discuss some of the key passages in the Analects for understanding the political thought of Confucius and its implications for constructing a Confucian democracy today.