Winner of 2023 Dao Annual Best Essay Award

Dao has established “The Annual Best Essay Award” since 2007. In addition to a certificate of achievement, the award comes along with a prize of US$1,000. The award winners will be noted in the website of the journal as well as the website of Springer, the publisher of the journal. The award ceremony is held each year at the American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting (Eastern Division) in early January, where a special panel on the theme of the award-winning essay is held. The critical comments and the author’s responses to them presented at the panel, after review and revision, will be published in the last issue of Dao each year.

The selection process consists of two stages. First, a nominating committee of at three editorial board members, who have not published in Dao in the given year, is established. This committee is charged with the task of nominating three best essays from all those published in the previous year. These three essays are then sent to the whole editorial board for deliberation. The final winner is decided by a vote by all editorial board members who are not authors of the nominated essays.

The editorial board has just finished its deliberation on the best essay published in 2023, and the award is given to:

Thorian R. Harris, “Moral Perfection as the Counterfeit of Virtue,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 22 (2023): 43-61 (Free Access to the Paper)

In this historically situated, textually grounded, and philosophically nuanced paper, Thorian Harris challenges the widely held assumption that Confucian sages are free of all moral imperfections. In Harris’s view, early Confucians held, rightly, that sages were not morally perfect, it is impossible to be morally perfect, and moral perfection, which is merely the counterfeit of virtue, is not something desirable. Instead of moral perfection, the highest ideal that Confucian sages truly embody and Confucians clearly embrace is the love of learning to be human. Skillfully traveling between the Chinese and Western sources and ancient and contemporary perspectives, the paper exemplifies the type of scholarship this journal aims to promote.

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