Category Archives: Comparative philosophy

Upcoming talk at Rutgers Center for Chinese Studies

The Rutgers Center for Chinese Studies is hosting another on-line lecture this week:
Title: A Philosophical Defense of Culture: Perspectives from Confucianism and Cassirer
Speaker: Shuchen Xiang, Peking University
Venue: Zoom (registration required)
Time: Thursday, Jan. 28, 7-8:30pm EST
The talk is based on Xiang’s forthcoming book with the same title from SUNY Press. Visit their website ( to get more info and to register. The talk is open to public, but registration is required.

New Webpage for Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture

The Editor of the Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture passes on the following message:

We are happy to announce that the Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture has a new webpage designed to allow easier and more intuitive access to the journal and its content. The Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture (JCPC) is the only peer-reviewed, English language journal dedicated exclusively to research concerning the history and contemporary relevance of Confucianism. The Journal is indexed in AtlaSerials, BAS (Bibliography of Asian Studies), MLA Directory of Periodicals, and KCI (Korea Citation Index). Please visit our new website at and consider submitting work to any of the various sections of the journal: articles, reviews, or Scholar’s Corner.

ToC: Asian Studies Vol 9 No 1 (2021): Special Issue: The Manifold Images of Asian History

Asian Studies Vol 9 No 1 (2021): Special Issue: The Manifold Images of Asian History

The full issue can be downloaded at the above link. Articles include “Confucian Humanism and the Importance of Female Education,” “The Problem of the Authenticity of the Aesthetic Concept qiyun shengdong: Xu Fuguan’s Analysis and Interpretation,” and many others.

New Book: Ames, Human Becomings: Theorizing Persons for Confucian Role Ethics

Roger Ames’s new book, Human Becomings: Theorizing Persons for Confucian Role Ethics (SUNY, 2020) has been published. The editor’s summary:

In Human Becomings, Roger T. Ames argues that the appropriateness of categorizing Confucian ethics as role ethics turns largely on the conception of person that is presupposed within the interpretive context of classical Chinese philosophy. By beginning with first self-consciously and critically theorizing the Confucian conception of persons as the starting point of Confucian ethics, Ames posits that the ultimate goal will be to take the Confucian tradition on its own terms and to let it speak with its own voice without overwriting it with cultural importances not its own. He argues that perhaps the most important contribution Confucian philosophy can make to contemporary ethical, social, and political discourse is the conception of focus-field, relationally constituted persons as a robust alternative to the ideology of individualism with single actors playing to win.

The Table of Contents follows.

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New Book: Elstein, ed., Dao Companion to Contemporary Confucian Philosophy

The latest volume in the authoritative Dao Companion series has been published: David Elstein, ed., Dao Companion to Contemporary Confucian Philosophy (Springer, 2021). The editorial description:

This edited volume presents a comprehensive examination of contemporary Confucian philosophy from its roots in the late 19th century to the present day. It provides a thorough introduction to the major philosophers and topics in contemporary Confucian philosophy. The individual chapters study the central figures in 20th century Confucian philosophy in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as the important influences on recent Confucian philosophy. In addition, topical chapters focus on contemporary Confucian theory of knowledge, ethics, politics, aesthetics, and views of human nature. The volume brings together scholars from around the world to provide a sound overview of the philosophy of the period and illustrate the important current debates. Confucian philosophy has been undergoing a revival in China for more than three decades, and this book presents the most significant work of the past century and more. By giving a detailed account of the philosophical positions involved, explaining the terminology of contemporary Confucian philosophy, and situating the views in their historical context, this volume enables the reader to understand what is at stake and evaluate the arguments.

The Table of Contents follows.

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Article of Interest: Batsch, “The Rationality Wars”

Readers may be interested in: Shadi Bartsch, “The Rationality Wars: The Ancient Greeks and the Counter-Enlightenment in Contemporary China,” History & Theory 59:4 (2020). Here’s the abstract:

Amid contemporary discussions about the relationship of logic to knowing, an entirely different conversation about the moral status of rationality is taking place between Chinese and Western thinkers. Although most would agree that deductive thought has been a highly privileged feature of the Western philosophical tradition since Plato (for good or bad), the question of its role in Confucian thought is less clear—and considerations of this topic tend to be highly charged. In turn, the question of whether the West has been tarred by a Weberian descent into a merely instrumental form of rationality has emerged as a hot topic in Chinese scholarship. However, the question merely supplies a way of engaging in cross‐cultural comparisons that are political rather than genuinely philosophical in nature. This article explores the sparring over terminology and concepts that characterizes this recent trend in scholarship. Ultimately, it suggests that instead of Chinese scholars appropriating the ideas of Western authors in order to raise anti‐Western specters of spiritual derangement, both traditions would be better off discarding this outdated and essentializing terminology in the first place.

Angle Reviews Bell and Wang, Just Hierarchy

My review of Daniel Bell and Wang Pei’s book Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World (Princeton, 2020) has been published in Ethics; see here. The review ends as follows:

…Perhaps a different approach is in order, one more rooted in China’s dynamic traditions than in the modernism that colors some of Bell and Wang’s thinking. Recalling Zhang Zai’s Western Inscription, we could think about the relationality inherent in the entire, ever-changing cosmos and conceptualize these relations through various degrees of kinship. Care, attention, reciprocity, mutuality, learn- ing, and growth would be the watchwords of such a perspective. There is an important place for just—or maybe more accurately, humane or harmonious—hierarchy in such a vision, and Bell and Wang can be important conversation partners in working out what is and what is not valuable among both traditional and more recent forms of social differentiation. Much of this differentiation (such as sexism and racism) needs strong critique, but at the same time, there is reason to agree with Aaron Stalnaker’s concern that modernity in many societies has been characterized by a “systematic pathologization of dependence” (Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020], 24). Drawing on Wang and Bell’s book and also on more thoroughgoing efforts to engage with traditional philosophical resources from around the world, it should be possible to identify and defend unequal but healthy forms of social cooperation.




End-of-term report on “Living a Good Life”

My colleagues Tushar Iriani, Steven Horst, and I have a post at the Daily Nous site about our experience teaching a new “Philosophy as a Way of Life” course that centrally features students doing structured philosophical exercises associated with each of the four main schools we covered (Confucianism, Aristotelianism, Daoism, and Stoicism). The course website itself is here; each of the “Live Like a ______” weeks are linked from here. Comments or questions either here or at Daily Nous most welcome!