Author Archives: Nathan Kolodney

New book: Philosophical Enactment and Bodily Cultivation in Early Daoism

Philosophical Enactment and Bodily Cultivation in Early Daoism: In the Matrix of the Daodejing

By Thomas Michael

Published: 9/9/21

Description: In Philosophical Enactment and Bodily Cultivation in Early Daoism, Thomas Michael illuminates the formative early history of the Daodejing and the social, political, religious, and philosophical trends that indelibly marked it.
This book centers on the matrix of the Daodejing that harbors a penetrating phenomenology of the Dao together with a rigorous system of bodily cultivation. It traces the historical journey of the text from its earliest oral circulations to its later transcriptions seen in a growing collection of ancient Chinese excavated manuscripts. It examines the ways in which Huang-Lao thinkers from the Han Dynasty transformed the original phenomenology of the Daodejing into a metaphysics that reconfigured its original matrix, and it explores the success of the Wei-Jin Daoist Ge Hong in bringing the matrix back into its original alignment.
This book is an important contribution to cross-cultural studies, bringing contemporary Chinese scholarship on Daoism into direct conversation with Western scholarship on Daoism. The book also concludes with a discussion of Martin Heidegger’s recognition of the position and value of the Daodejing for the future of comparative philosophy.

For more info on the book see here.

Registration for ISEAP 2021 Conference (10-11 December, 2021)

The International Society for East Asian Philosophy (ISEAP) 2021 Conference will be held on 10-11 December, 2021 (Japan Time).
The conference program is now available at the following link:, the registration for ISEAP 2021 Conference (free of charge) is now open for audience participation.
The link for conference registration is as follows:
The deadline will be 1 December, 2021 (Japan Time).

See the launch of the new website here:

New Book – Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology through Chinese Divination

Dr William Matthews recently announced the publication of his new book Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination with Berghahn Books. The introduction can be read here.


Humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. This book is about the role of cognition in creating cosmologies, and explores this through the ethnography and history of Yijing divination in China. Diviners explain the cosmos in terms of a single substance, qi, unfolding across scales of increasing complexity to create natural phenomena and human experience. Combined with an understanding of human cognition, it shows how this conception of scale offers a new way for anthropologists and other social scientists to think about cosmology, comparison and cultural difference.

To recommend this book to your library, use this online form.

ToC:Asian Philosophy, Volume 31, Issue 4 (2021)

Existence as a first-order predicate: Themes from Mirdamad
Davood Hosseini
Pages 353-367

Re-visiting the role of craft in Zhuangzi’s philosophy
Raymond W.K. Lau
Pages 368-384

Historical materialism in medieval China: The cases of Liu Zongyuan (773-819) and Li Gou (1009-1059)
Dawid Rogacz
Pages 385-401

Eastern and Western creativity of tradition
ConRong Wang
Pages 402-413

On self-deception: from the perspective of Zhu Xi’s moral psychology
Kaili Wang
Pages 414-429

Is Mohism really li-promotionalism?
Yun Wu & Amin Ebrahimi Afrouzi
Pages 430-440

L. K. Gustin Law reviews Seok at NDPR

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2021.10.02 View this Review Online View Other NDPR Reviews

Bongrae Seok (ed.), Naturalism, Human Flourishing, and Asian Philosophy: Owen Flanagan and Beyond, Routledge, 2020, 256pp., $160.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780367350246.

Reviewed by L. K. Gustin Law, University of Chicago

This volume includes contributions engaging the works of Owen Flanagan, as well as his responses to them. As Flanagan’s works cut across conventional academic boundaries, so does the contributors’ expertise fall under different disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, religion, and Asian studies. Each essay either compares Flanagan’s view with a Ruist (Confucian) or Buddhist counterpart or addresses his engagement with it. It is a scholarly and illuminating book for those interested in the enduring significance of Mengzi’s ethical psychology or Buddhism, the rich and diverse accounts of mind that fall under the label of “Buddhism,” Flanagan’s naturalism, the way he adapts and naturalizes Buddhism for a model of human flourishing, or how intellectual enterprises of independent origins might enter into fruitful dialogue. Navigating all these is made easier by the editor, Bongrae Seok, who masterfully summarizes the contributions, highlighting the significance of each and their connections to one another.

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New book: Patt-Shamir, Three Neo-Confucian Perspectives on Transcending Self-Boundaries

Three Neo-Confucian Perspectives on Transcending Self-Boundaries

By Galia Patt-Shamir


Persons Emerging explores the renewed idea of the Confucian person in the eleventh-century philosophies of Zhou Dunyi, Shao Yong, and Zhang Zai. Galia Patt-Shamir discusses their responses to the Confucian challenge that the Way, as perfection, can be broadened by the person who travels it. Suggesting that the three neo-Confucian philosophers undertake the classical Confucian task of “broadening the way,” each proposes to deal with it from a different angle: Zhou Dunyi offers a metaphysical emerging out of the infinitude-finitude boundary, Shao Yong emerges out of the epistemological boundary between in and out, and Zhang Zai offers a pragmatic emerging out of the boundary between life and death.

Through the lens of these three Song-period China philosophers, the idea of “transcending self-boundaries” places neo-Confucian philosophies within the global philosophical context. Patt-Shamir questions the Confucian notions of person, Way, and how they relate to human flourishing to highlight how the emergence of personhood demands transcending metaphysical, epistemological, and moral self-boundaries.

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New Book: How to Do Things with Emotions

How to Do Things with Emotions: The Morality of Anger and Shame across Cultures

By Owen Flanagan

Publisher: Princeton University Press


In How to Do Things with Emotions, Owen Flanagan explains that emotions are things we do, and he reminds us that those like anger and shame involve cultural norms and scripts. The ways we do these emotions offer no guarantee of emotionally or ethically balanced lives—but still we can control and change how such emotions are done. Flanagan makes a passionate case for tuning down anger and tuning up shame, and he observes how cultures around the world can show us how to perform these emotions better.

Through comparative insights from anthropology, psychology, and cross-cultural philosophy, Flanagan reveals an incredible range in the expression of anger and shame across societies. He establishes that certain types of anger—such as those that lead to revenge or passing hurt on to others—are more destructive than we imagine. Certain forms of shame, on the other hand, can protect positive values, including courage, kindness, and honesty. Flanagan proposes that we should embrace shame as a uniquely socializing emotion, one that can promote moral progress where undisciplined anger cannot.

For more info see here.

Online Workshop: “One-Many Relations in Chinese Philosophy” (Nov 6)

Workshop Description:

In the worldview of different traditions, we usually find paradoxical articulations of the one-many relations, such as “one is many”, “all in each”, “trinity”, “unity of heaven and the human”, and so on. What are the different strategies employed by different thinkers, especially those from the Chinese philosophical traditions, to account for the diversification of one or unification of many? What would be the foundation for contemplating the one-many relations? This workshop aims to investigate these questions as a basis for intercultural examination and dialogue with a focus on Chinese philosophy.

Zoom ID: 982 3676 8637
Passcode: 526715
Time: Nov 6, 2021
7pm (GMT +8) – Singapore, Hong Kong, and China time; 7am – US time; 12noon – UK time
For more details on the abstract and schedule, please see the official fb events page @

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New Book: Individual Autonomy and Responsibility in Late Imperial China

Individual Autonomy and Responsibility in Late Imperial China

By Paolo Santangelo


Individual Autonomy and Responsibility in Late Imperial China is a major new work by one of Europe’s most respected senior scholars of Chinese studies, Paolo Santangelo. In it, he questions the common premise that individualism was lacking in premodern China. It is Santangelo’s contention that not only was the concept of the individual important in traditional China, but that it existed in interesting ways that are different from modes of individualism in the West.

One of the strengths of this study is the masterful manner in which Professor Santangelo treats key terms of his discussion, terms such as xing (“human nature”), xin (“heart-mind”), ji (“self”), and uses them to analyze various texts.


“Paolo Santangelo’s Individual Autonomy and Responsibility in Late Imperial China is a timely masterpiece on the hotly debated issue of Chinese individualism in Confucian tradition. Building on his knowledgeable survey of the secondary literature, Paolo Santangelo adeptly brings several studies with different perspectives into an insightful conversation representing the past and recent debates on the terms and cultural contexts relevant to personal autonomy and moral responsibility. His strong grasp of the literature forms a solid foundation of his own interpretation of the subject from a broad array of primary sources, such as literary, philosophical, and religious texts. A major strength of the book is its comparative perspective. Santangelo not only compares and contrasts the terms and reflections within Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist contexts, but he also expertly brings Western concepts into conversation with the East Asian constructions of self, destiny, shame, and pleasure. He also demonstrates the change and continuity of the terms and concepts throughout the time through comparisons between the Ming-Qing period and the pre-Qin period. This book is a successful ‘rediscovery’ of the individualism in Chinese culture.”

—Guotong Li, California State University, Long Beach