Author Archives: Brian Bruya

I am Professor of philosophy at Eastern Michigan University. I specialize in the early Chinese tradition and aim to apply ideas from the early tradition to issues of today.

Sources of the Philosophy of Confucius

When you teach the philosophy of Confucius, surely you use the Analects as a source–probably your main source, maybe your only source.  What (if anything) else do you use as a primary source for the philosophy of Confucius (not of Confucianism), and why?

Two points of reference: 1) Mark Csikszentmihalyi’s entry on Confucius in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  With reference to the work of Zhu Weizheng and Michael Hunter, he says, “An attack on the authoritativeness of the Analects… broadens and diversifies the sources that may be used to reconstruct… the corpus of Confucius quotations and dialogues beyond the Analects.”  Which sources? Specifically mentioned are the following:

  • Records of Ritual, the Elder Dai’s Records of Ritual (DaDai Liji 大戴禮記)
  • Family Discussions of Confucius (Kongzi jiayu 孔子家語)
  • Zuo Commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals
  • Han’s Intertextual Commentary on the Odes (Han Shi waizhuan 韓詩外傳)
  • Recently archaeologically recovered texts from the Han period and before

2) Michael Ing, in the Vulnerability of Integrity, adduces passages from the Kongzi jiayu and the Han shi waizhuan in claims about Confucius’ philosophical positions.

I’m sure there are other points of reference, but these should suffice to jump start a conversation.

Why do I ask?  In the past, I have used only the Analects and haven’t felt any reason to reach beyond it.  But Hunter’s work has made me re-think that, and like Csikszentmihalyi, I think that rather than foreclosing the Analects as a source of Confucius’ philosophy, Hunter’s work opens us to more possibilities. Plus, I find some of the sources above interesting and compelling.

Clarifications about this post:
A) Not interested here in how you expand on Confucius’ ideas via other texts, such as Mencius, Zhong yong, etc.  Might be a good topic for another thread.
B) Not interested here in whether we can reconstruct a coherent philosophy of Confucius.  This particular topic is only for those who teach the philosophy of Confucius and, at least provisionally, presuppose that we can discuss his philosophy in a coherent way.  Perspectives on “whether” are a good topic for a different thread.

New Book: Ziran: The Philosophy of Spontaneous Self-Causation


I’d like to announce the publication of my new book Ziran: The Philosophy of Spontaneous Self-Causation. Targeted specifically at students, this book takes a key concept form early Chinese metaphysics—ziran 自然—and applies it to several fields of contemporary scholarship.

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Job Opening at NTU: Pre-Qin Confucianism

Department of Philosophy, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

The Department of Philosophy at National Taiwan University invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor. Teaching appointment is effective from August 1, 2021.

Qualification: Ph.D. in Philosophy or related fields

Specialization:

  1. Pre-Qin Confucianism
  2. Logic

Other Requirements: In principle, applicants should be competent in teaching in Mandarin and prepared to offer mandatory courses (teaching experience is preferable).

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Deadline Extended – CFP: Teaching Asian Philosophical Classics, 2020 Pacific APA

Teaching Asian Philosophical Classics

The APA Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies seeks participants for a roundtable panel on how to teach Asian philosophical text at the AAPT-APA Teaching Hub at the 2020 APA Pacific Division meeting, April 8–29, 2020, in San Francisco, CA.

Teaching a pre-modern philosophical text presents special challenges to both the instructor and the students. Teaching classics from non-Western traditions compounds the difficulty. This panel is designed to convey the experiences of instructors who have taught Asian philosophical classics with the purpose of easing the way for others who would like to do the same but aren’t sure how to do it or even where to begin.

Regardless of your own background in Asian philosophy, if you have experience teaching Asian philosophical classics and would like to share that experience for the benefit of others, we welcome your participation in this roundtable panel. We seek a range of backgrounds and expertise, from the Asianist who has a competent command of relevant languages to the metaphysician, epistemologist, etc., who has explored Asian texts as a supplement to more canonical texts. The aim of the panel is to bring teachers into conversation about useful ways of teaching Asian philosophical classics. What has worked and what hasn’t? What difficulties have you encountered in finding, researching, or conveying the material of Asian classics? How is teaching an Asian classic distinct from teaching other texts? Which texts have you found useful? How have you helped students access a distinct set of concepts and intellectual contexts?

We envision a 3-hour panel with five approximately 20-minute presentations and a full hour for discussion among panelists and audience members.

Submissions: Proposals prepared for anonymous review of 250 words should be sent to Brian Bruya, Chair of the APA Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies, at bbruya@emich.edu with the subject line “TH Submission: Asian Classics.” In the body of the email, please include your name, institutional affiliation (if any), position (if any), and contact information. Attach to the email proposals that address to the following items: 1) the text or texts that you have taught, 2) the subject matter and level of the course in which each text was taught, 3) your own background in Asian philosophy and language with regard to both formal training and informal study, 4) an abstract of your proposed presentation.

Deadline for Proposals: September 3, 2019. Extended to September 10!

Selection of Presenters: late September 2019

Questions about this session should be directed to Brian Bruya at the address above. A stable version of the call will live on the CTP page of the APA website:http://www.apaonline.org/group/teaching, where you can find additional information about other Teaching Hub calls, the CTP’s Facebook page, and our committee’s activities.

By submitting a proposal, you commit to participating in the panel at the APA Pacific Division Meeting (April 8–29, 2020) should your proposal be selected.

The AAPT-APA Teaching Hub is a series of interactive workshops and conversations designed specifically for philosophers and created to celebrate teaching within the context of the APA divisional meetings. Jointly organized by the APA Committee on the Teaching of Philosophy (CTP) and the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT), the Teaching Hub aims to offer a range of high-quality and inclusive development opportunities that address the teaching of philosophy at all levels, pre-college through graduate school.

For general information about the AAPT-APA Teaching Hub, please check out the AAPT website and Facebook page and the CTP website and Facebook page. For more specific information about the Teaching Hub at the 2020 Pacific APA meeting in San Francisco, California, please contact Renée Smith at rsmith@coastal.edu.

Submitting to the APA Can Help Diversify the APA

Are you worried about the de facto ghettoization of non-Western philosophy at APA meetings, where there are quite a few non-Western philosophy panels but mostly in the Group Program rather than in the Main Program?

It turns out that the mechanism that allows for this situation also allows for its rectification.  Below is a message from Rebecca Copenhaver,  secretary-treasurer of the Pacific Division.  I’m told that the Eastern Division has a similar mechanism (not sure about the Central).

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Book Request from Confucius Museum

I am posting the message below on behalf of Yang Jinquan, of the new Confucius Museum. If you have access to or know anyone who has access to an artifact that might find a home in the museum, feel free to contact Mr. Yang.

Contact info:
Yang Jinquan 杨金泉
Email:1429174490@qq.com
Postal address:中国山东省曲阜市孔子大道100号孔子博物馆
Telephone:186-6070-0298, 139-6498-0166

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M.A. in Philosophy at Eastern Michigan University

The Philosophy M.A. Program at Eastern Michigan University is accepting applications. Funding is available.  Please see the attached flyer.

This year, we placed graduating students in the following programs (with full funding):

  • Loyola Chicago, Philosophy Ph.D. (student interest in Continental philosophy)
  • University of Wisconsin, Philosophy Ph.D. (student interest in philosophy of science)
  • Western Michigan University, Religious Studies M.A. (student interest in Asian religions)

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CAAAPP Panels at the Pacific APA

The APA’s Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies is sponsoring the following panels at the Pacific APA this coming week:

Wednesday Afternoon, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
APA Committee Session: Multicultural Philosophy and Transformative Experience
Chair: Adrian Currie (University of Cambridge)
Speakers: Nilanjan Das (New York University Shanghai)
“Transformative Speech”
Meena Krishnamurthy (University of Michigan)
“White Ignorance and How to Overcome It”
Julianne Chung (University of Louisville)
“Wuwei as Transformative Experience”
Commentator: L. A. Paul (University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill)

Saturday Morning, 9:00 a.m.–Noon
APA Committee Session: Book Symposium: Nalini Bhushan and Jay Garfield, Minds without Fear
Arranged by the APA Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies
Chair: Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay (Montana State
University)
Speakers: Saranindranath Tagore (National University of
Singapore)
Vrinda Dalmiya (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Ankur Barua (University of Cambridge)
Commentators: Nalini Bhushan (Smith College)
Jay L. Garfield (Smith College and Harvard
University)

We are also co-sponsoring the following:         Continue reading →