Timothy Connolly – Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy Lecture: “Confucian Approaches to Intergenerational Ethics” Friday Mar 29 at 5:30pm


Welcomes: Timothy Connolly (East Stroudsburg University)
With a response from: Susan Blake (Bard College)

Please join on us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on FRIDAY, March 29th at 5:30 PM for his lecture entitled:

Confucian Approaches to Intergenerational Ethics

ABSTRACT: Since Confucianism is an intergenerational phenomenon, it should have unique insights into ethical issues surrounding our obligations to future generations. In the first part of this discussion, I examine two contemporary Confucian perspectives on intergenerational ethics. Proponents of Confucian Role Ethics have developed an interpretation of xiao 孝 as “intergenerational reverence” that binds the community together over time by reference to shared cultural models and evolving ethical values. The Chinese thinker Jiang Qing in turn argues for a political constitution in which the state depends not just on the will of presently existing citizens, but also serves to preserve and transmit the values of the past for the sake of future generations. While both interpretations share in common a critique of Western individualism and rights-based ethical framework, Jiang’s account of Confucian intergenerationality rests on the authority of tradition, whereas Confucian Role Ethics prioritizes the uniqueness of the situation at hand. In the second half of the discussion, I develop an alternative Confucian approach that is aligned with virtue ethics. On this view, our present virtue is the point of departure for understanding our relations with the past and future. I examine passages in early Confucian texts that suggest a notion of intergenerational virtue, which brings together various dispositions to see our own flourishing as linked with both past and future generations.

Friday, March 29th, 5:30-7:30 PM
Rm. 101, 80 Claremont Ave., Columbia University

Inquiries should be directed to one of the following individuals:

Jonathan Gold, Associate Professor, Princeton University, Department of Religion: jcgold@princeton.edu

Hagop Sarkissian, Associate Professor, The City University of New York, Graduate Center | Baruch College, Department of Philosophy: hagop.sarkissian@baruch.cuny.edu

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