Book Symposium–Tao Jiang’s Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China

Date: 4 February 2022 (Friday)
Time: 09:00 (HKT-Hong Kong Time)
***PLEASE NOTE: For those in North America, this will be 8:00pm EST on Thursday, February 3***
Venue: Online (This talk will be held via Zoom–registration required–see below.)
Moderator: Sungmoon Kim, City University of Hong Kong

This book symposium comprises a précis of Tao Jiang’s Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China (Oxford University Press, 2021) together with three critical commentaries on different aspects of the book by Karyn Lai, Hui-chieh Loy, and Hagop Sarkissian, and the author’s replies.

This book rewrites the story of classical Chinese philosophy with an emphasis on the normative dimensions of the early texts. It makes three key points. First, the central intellectual challenge during the Chinese classical period was how to negotiate the relationships between the personal, the familial, and the political domains when philosophers were reimagining and reconceptualizing a new sociopolitical order, due to the collapse of the old order. Second, the competing visions can be characterized as a contestation between impartialist justice and partialist humaneness as the guiding norms of the newly imagined moral-political order, with the Confucians, the Mohists, the Laoists, and the so-called fajia (Legalist) thinkers being the major participants, constituting the mainstream intellectual project during this foundational period of Chinese philosophy. Third, Zhuangzi and the Zhuangists were the outliers of the mainstream moral-political debate during this period who rejected the very parameter of humaneness versus justice in the mainstream debate. Zhuangzi and the Zhuangists were a lone voice advocating personal freedom.

Author Biography
Tao Jiang is a scholar of classical Chinese philosophy and Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. He is Chair of the Department of Religion and Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, US. He co-directs the Rutgers Workshop on Chinese Philosophy and co-chairs the Neo-Confucian Studies Seminar at Columbia University.

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