Announcement of 2022 Dao Annual Best Essay Award

Announcement of 2022 Dao Annual Best Essay Award

Dao established “The Annual Best Essay Award” in 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 consisting of 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 2022, and the award is given to:

Harvey Lederman, “What Is the ‘Unity’ in the ‘Unity of Knowledge and Action’?” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 21: 569-603

(Click the link the free access to the paper: What Is the “Unity” in the “Unity of Knowledge and Action”? | SpringerLink)

The “unity of knowledge and action” is a trademark doctrine of Wang Yangming, one of the most important philosophers in the neo-Confucian tradition. Precisely what Wang means by “unity”, however, has more been taken for granted than explained. In this carefully crafted essay, Harvey Lederman undertakes to explain the meaning of this “unity”, painstakingly examining the relevant passages, on the way to developing a  unique, stimulating, and thought-provoking interpretation. Accepting the common view that the unity of knowledge and action has two aspects, one regarding ethical training (gongfu) and the other regarding the original natural condition (benti), Lederman argues that, in the former case, knowledge and action are taken to be the same thing (identity), while in the latter, knowledge and action are just taken to be necessarily coextensive (unity without identity). The clarity, carefulness, and subtleness of the arguments this essay displays, along with the novelty of its thesis, represent the type of scholarship this journal aims to promote in the study of Chinese and comparative philosophy.

One reply

  1. Congratulations on this! I mean, it feels like there is really some progress being made here in interpreting Wang Yangming’s philosophy!!! A leap ahead!

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