Taisu Zhang, The Laws and Economics of Confucianism: Kinship and Property in Preindustrial China and England, has recently been published by Cambridge. The book is a study in comparative legal and economic history. It asks why early modern property institutions in rural China and England went down distinctly different paths—and whether these institutional differences had any macro-level economic effects. The book’s central thesis ties together cultural analysis with law and economics—two theoretical paradigms that have had virtually no interaction over the past several decades—but also engages the growing literature on global economic divergence.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Mathew A. Foust, Confucianism and American Philosophy, SUNY Press, 2017, 194pp., $80.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9781438464756.
Reviewed by Andrew Lambert, City University of New York, College of Staten Island
This book seeks to further develop dialogue between the American pragmatist and transcendentalist traditions, and classical Confucian thought. Scholars have previously noted certain parallels and commonalities, but the aim here is to “expand the scope of this area of comparative philosophy beyond the typically engaged duo of Confucius and Dewey” (p. 129). As a work in comparative philosophy, the book also seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate about the status of non-Western intellectual traditions within the discipline of philosophy. Much has been written recently on this topic, and this work makes its contribution by familiarizing those working in American philosophy with classical Confucian thought, and vice versa.
The Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture, Vol. 28 / August 2017, has been published. The full contents are available via this link; the Table of Contents follows.
Bloomsbury has published Tony Swain’s Confucianism in China: An Introduction. See here for more.
The Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania is delighted to announce an interdisciplinary symposium in honor of Nathan Sivin at Perry World House, 3803 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, on Oct. 14-15, 2017.
The symposium is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Just click here if you’d like to attend:
Michael Sandel and Paul D’Ambrosio have edited a book on Chinese philosophy titled “Encountering China: Michael Sandel and Chinese Philosophy” that will come out on Harvard University Press in early January 2018. A flyer with more information is available here, and the Table of Contents follows.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Philip J. Ivanhoe, Three Streams: Confucian Reflections on Learning and the Moral Heart-Mind in China, Korea, and Japan, Oxford University Press, 2016, 250pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190492014.
Reviewed by Hui Chieh Loy, National University of Singapore
Amy Olberding’s “The Moral Gravity of Mere Trifles” at LSE’s The Forum. She begins:
“Some of the most heated critiques of etiquette emphasize a tension between progressive political values and conformity to polite norms. Insistence on polite rules of interaction may, so the worry goes, stifle righteous dissent, suppress critique of the powerful, and mire us all in hidebound tradition. Better to forcefully call out injustice when we see it than abide by polite rules that sacrifice moral progress to surface social accord. In these critiques, etiquette can seem an enemy of salutary change and a barrier to justice. This reasoning, the early Confucians would argue, misses much about how etiquette works and what it contributes to moral life….”
I have some updates to share on the workshop on Confucian political theory at the Manchester Centre for Political Theory. Note especially the new deadline for submissions (June 2) and the keynote speaker (Joseph Chan).
The workshop itself will run from September 9 (Monday) to September 13 (Wednesday), 2017. The venue will be in Arthur Lewis Building, University of Manchester. Thanks to co-convener Baldwin Wong of The Chinese University, Hong Kong, for the latest.
The latest issue of the Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture, published by Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul (Vol. 27 / February 2017), is — like all issues of the journal — is available on line here. The list of articles is also below. Enjoy!
Robert Neville and Bin SONG are interviewed about several topics related to Confucianism (or Ruism) in series of podcasts produced by the student team of the Howard Thurman Center at Boston University. They are available here. The series’ topics include: Boston Confucianism, Confucianism’s take on the last election, the relevance of Confucianism to contemporary American society, Confucian education, civil examinations, why Ruism may be preferred over Confucianism, Ruism’s political philosophy, Ruist metaphysics, etc.
This book is notable for drawing on multiple traditions of thought about virtue, including Confucianism and Buddhism…
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Shannon Vallor, Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting, Oxford University Press, 2016, 309pp., $39.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780190498511.
Reviewed by Benjamin I. Huff, Randolph-Macon College
The Manchester Centre for Political Theory will host a workshop on Confucian political theory on September 11-13. The deadline to apply is May 26. Graduate students and faculty emeriti will, upon acceptance, be able to apply to the Centre for funding. More information is here.
Loubna El Amine will speak at the National University of Singapore on March 23; her topic is “The Problem of Political Order in Classical Confucian Thought.” Details here.
Routledge has recently published Ping-cheung Lo and Sumner B. Twiss’s wide-ranging edited volume, Chinese Just War Ethics: Origin, Development, and Dissent. Its contents are below. Continue reading “New Book: Lo and Twiss, eds., Chinese Just War Ethics”
Bin SONG has published a new editorial at Huffington Post titled “The Status of Women is Not an Issue for the Ru (Confucian) Tradition.” Check it out!
SUNY has just published Mat Foust’s new book, Confucianism and American Philosophy. From the publisher’s website: “In his examination of a broad range of philosophers, including Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Peirce, William James, and Josiah Royce, Foust traces direct lines of influence from early translations of Confucian texts and brings to light conceptual affinities that have been previously overlooked.” Congratulations, Mat!
Peimin Ni’s new translation-and-commentary on the Analects, Understanding the Analects of Confucius: A New Translation of Lunyu with Annotations, is due out soon: (SUNY, 2017). I have read the book in manuscript, and wrote the following blurb:
Peimin Ni’s translation of the Analects has many virtues that make it stand out as an exemplary version of this most important Chinese text. Ni has chosen to present the text as a living document, embedded in two thousand years of commentarial conversation over its meaning, with today’s readers very much part of that ongoing conversation.
Among other things, Peimin skillfully translates the text so that its potential ambiguity comes through, making sense of commentarial debates in ways that previous translations have not captured. Congratulations!
I have recently completed a draft chapter, titled “Human Rights and Chinese Tradition,” for the Handbook on human rights in China being edited by Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig. Anyone interested can take a look; I have uploaded it to my personal archive here. Comments are very welcome!
The Boston University Confucian Association will host a lecture by Bryan Van Norden titled “Like Loving a Lovely Sight: Simile and Metaphor in Chinese Philosophy” on March 23, 2017 at 5:30pm. Details are here.
See here for an interview with Peng Guoxiang, Professor of Philosophy at Zhejiang University and 2016 Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North at the Library of Congress.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Jeong Yak-yong (Dasan), The Analects of Dasan, Volume 1: A Korean Syncretic Reading, Hongkyung Kim (tr. and comm.), Oxford University Press, 2016, 260pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190624996.
Reviewed by Richard Kim, Saint Louis University
Even among contemporary Western philosophers with an interest in East Asian philosophy, there are relatively few who are familiar with the works of Jeong Yak-yong (Dasan, 1762-1836), arguably the most brilliant mind in Korean intellectual history. The neglect of Dasan is in part due to the lack of English translations of his works. Hongkyung Kim’s translation and commentary is an important step toward introducing the writings of one of the most outstanding thinkers in Korean history.
Traditional Korean Philosophy: Problems and Debates, Edited by Youngsun Back and Philip J. Ivanhoe, has been published by Rowman & Littlefield International, in their CEACOP East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law series. It looks great — congratulations to the editors and contributors!
Keith Knapp has compiled a very helpful list of AAR panels of interest to scholars of Confucianism, which I share here. The AAR Annual Meeting takes place in San Antonio, Texas starting on Nov. 19. Continue reading “AAR Panels on East Asian traditions”
Kim-chong Chong has published Zhuangzi’s Critique of the Confucians: Blinded by the Human (SUNY, 2016), which looks fascinating. Details here.
Bryan Van Norden has a lovely essay about Mencius at Aeon, intended for a general audience. Check it out!
Mathew A. Foust and Sor-hoon Tan, eds., Feminist Encounters with Confucius (Brill, 2016) has been published. Congratulations! The table of contents follows, and see also here.
Columbia University Press has published a two-volume set titled Chinese History and Culture, providing a collection of eminent intellectual historian Ying-shih Yu’s essays, many dealing with philosophical topics, some appearing for the first time in English. Details for volume one (Sixth Century B.C.E. to Seventeenth Century) and volume two (Seventeenth Century Through Twentieth Century); I’ll copy the Tables of Contents below.
Shannon Vallor, Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting (Oxford, 2016) has just been published; information here. The book draws on Aristotelian, Confucian, and Buddhist virtue ethics as it explores a path toward a “future worth living.”
Fifty years ago, in the summer and fall of 1966, the People’s Daily was filled with stories lauding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which had been officially launched in May of that year. Today’s issue of People’s Daily includes a section titled “推动儒学融入现代社会 (Promoting the Introduction of Confucianism into Modern Society)” which includes three articles:
A recent article (in Chinese) in Guangming Daily, titled “Recent Boston Confucianism,” reports on Prof. Robert Neville’s recent scholarship as well as the Boston University Confucian Association’s student activities, including the first Ruist retreat hosted this past summer. This article has been republished by a number of major Chinese media outlets, which speaks to an interest in what is happening with Confucianism/Ruism in America. See here for the article.
Peng Guoxiang, a leading scholar of Confucianism who is currently Qiu Shi Distinguished Professor of Chinese Philosophy, Intellectual History and Religions at Zhejiang University, has arrived at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center (in Washington DC) as the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North. His tenure began in July and he will be in residence for six months. More details are here.
Confucius’ remark at Analects 1.6 is often cited to show that he thought proper moral development begins with filial piety and then extends that attitude to ever-larger groups of people (ever less intensely). I shall argue that the remark does not display such a view. Confucius did not in general envision moral progress as extension.
Sam Crane has a thought-provoking post titled “Confucian Rationality and Its Modern Fate” on his blog, reflecting on the question “What can Confucianism be in a modern context?” Recommended!
I’d like to recommend Ian Sullivan’s recently published article, “Simone de Beauvoir and Confucian Role Ethics: Role-Relational Ambiguity and Confucian Mystification,” which has just been published in Hypatia 31:3. Abstract follows….
A new, complete translation of Xunzi has been published: Écrits de Maître Xun, Traduction, introduction et notes par Ivan P. Kamenarovic. For more information, see here.
Many hold that for Confucius the family is the model for organized political society in some sense; that Confucius regarded the norms for relations beyond the family as largely based on the norms for relations with kin. Here I follow Joseph Chan in challenging that view.
The latest issue of Confluence: Online Journal of World Philosophies, has just been released. It contains about 300 pages of articles, including a symposium led by Jonardon Ganeri on the question, “Is reason a neutral tool in comparative philosophy?” Near the end of the issue is a short survey article I wrote about the competing role ethical and virtue ethical interpretations of early Confucianism.
Someone said to Confucius, “Master, why don’t you engage in government?” The Master said, “The Book of Documents says, ‘Filial! But be filial, and a friend to your brothers, thus contributing to government.’ Why then do that other kind of ‘engaging in government’?”
I’ll suppose for the sake of argument that the reported exchange is authentic, and argue that it is not significant evidence of Confucius’ views. Confucius is not aiming to communicate his views here.
Here are some reasons to think that Youzi did not regard family as the root of humanity or of the Way. (I used to think he did.)
Most of my argument focuses on defending a view held by Soothill, Leys, Chin, and maybe Lau and Slingerland: that by 弟 in Analects 1.2, Youzi meant elder-respect, a virtue commonly associated specifically with life outside the family. It would follow that according to 1.2, only one of the two parts of the root of humanity is specifically a family virtue. If 孝 and 弟 have something relevantly in common for Youzi, family isn’t it.
Did Confucius think that if one of us has general virtue, or some particular virtue such as courage or filial piety, that general or particular virtue will have a substantial tendency to spread directly to the people around her, even if she holds no government position?
Here I’ll survey Confucius’ statements in the Analects and conclude that the answer is No. Confucius probably did not hold that view. (I gave the opposite reading in both my published papers on Chinese philosophy.)
In a February 2016 blog post, Bin SONG makes a powerful case for switching from “Confucianism” to “Ruism.” This is not a brand-new idea; for instance, David Elstein has consistently used “Ruism,” including in his posts here at Warp, Weft, and Way, and Robert Eno advocated for such a practice in his 1990 book The Confucian Creation of Heaven (see here for relevant quote). Still, Bin Song raises some new arguments. To some degree, the things that Elstein, Eno, and Song are talking about may not be entirely the same: at least in the first instance, I take them to be referring to a modern philosophical movement, an ancient ritual-cum-philosophical movement, and a modern spiritual or religious movement of potential relevance in the contemporary US, respectively. (Admittedly, the application of these categories to Chinese practices can only be approximate; I just mean to gesture toward some possible distinctions.) Be this as it may, it may be that the arguments for using “Confucianism” in any of these contexts are weaker than many of us have assumed. What do you think: should we abandon the word “Confucianism”?
Issue 9 of 当代儒学 (Contemporary Confucianism) has been published, and the table of contents is available here.
Mat Foust has published a review of Stephen C. Angle and Michael Slote, eds., Virtue Ethics and Confucianism (Routledge, 2013) in the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies. The full text of the review is available on-line here (look for “Book Review 4”). Thanks, Mat!
Journalist Qian Jianghua writes: “A leading Confucian academic’s defense of polygamy and arranged marriage continues to stoke tensions, months after he made the comments last year in an article titled ‘Only Confucianism can settle modern women.'” More here.
James A. Flath, Traces of the Sage: Monument, Materiality, and the First Temple of Confucius, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2016.
Traces of the Sage is a comprehensive account of the history and material culture of the Temple of Confucius (Kong Temple) in Qufu, Shandong.
Bin Song, a graduate student at BU, writes:
We Boston Ruists will host a Ruist retreat this summer, July 1-3rd, at Boston University. Attached is the schedule, including all details of the retreat and logistics.
The initiative of this retreat was proposed by some friends in the Facebook group ‘Friends from Afar: a Confucianism group.’ I hope the retreat can be organized as a ‘middle’ sort of Ruism, aiming to propagate Ruist wisdom among ordinary American people but still not losing its scholarly virtuosity.
Anyone interested in learning more about the retreat, or in registering, should contact Bin Song (the information is on the attachment). Comments on this undertaking are of course welcome here.
Monday, April 11, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The Rise of Confucius and Legends of Abdication in Light of Warring States Period Bamboo Manuscripts
Speaker: Sarah Allan, Burlington Northern Foundation Professor of Asian Studies in honor of Richard M. Dressler at Dartmouth College, chair of the Society for the Study of Early China, and editor of Early China
Sponsored by the Harvard University Fairbanks Center for Chinese Studies
S250, 2nd Floor, CGIS South, 1730, Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA
More information here.
Subscribers to the New York Review of Books can also read Ian Johnson’s “A Revolutionary Discovery in China” in the April 21 issue, which is a review essay based on Sarah Allan’s book Buried Ideas: Legends of Abdication and Ideal Government in Early Chinese Bamboo-Slip Manuscripts.
Good news: Princeton University Press is pleased to present the publication of the paperback edition of Xunzi: The Complete Text by Xunzi, translated and with an introduction by Eric L. Hutton, for course use.
A new book that may be of interest: James Flath, Traces of the Sage: Monument, Materiality, and the First Temple of Confucius (Hawaii, 2016). More information is here.
I have recently learned about the “Greater China Summer Workshop Program in Chinese Studies” to be held this summer in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Beijing, organized and sponsored by the Sinological Development Charitable Foundation. Information on the Foundation and its goals, as well as about the program, are available on its website, here. The program aims to introduce Chinese Studies (focusing on Early Confucianism and the Hundred Schools; Buddhism and Daoism; and Neo-Confucianism). There are a limited number of Sponsorships (full financial support) available, plus a self-pay option. The application deadline is April 1, 2016.
The deadline for the Confucian Asia NEH Institute is fast approaching: March 1, 2016.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Henry Rosemont Jr., Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion, Lexington Books, 2015, 190pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780739199800.
Reviewed by Li-Hsiang Lisa Rosenlee, University of Hawaii, West Oahu
This book has ten chapters and can be roughly divided into two parts: the first five chapters focus on the discussion of many problematics of the Western notion of individualism; and the second half is devoted to the Confucian role-based alternative. This book can be seen as a culmination of Henry Rosemont Jr.’s decades of work in the field of comparative philosophy. His critique of Western individualism along with his search for Confucian spirituality as an alternative stretches back to his early works such as A Chinese Mirror: Moral Reflections on Political Economy and Society (Open Court, 1991), “Human Rights: A Bill of Worries” (in Confucianism and Human Rights, Columbia University Press, 1998) and Rationality and Religious Experience: The Continuing Relevance of the World’s Spiritual Traditions (Open Court 2001). Against Individualism is a natural progression of all these early groundworks that Rosemont has laid along the way.
Confucian Traditions Group
Statement of Purpose:
This Group is committed to the study of the diversity of religious traditions associated with Confucius and his followers, including areas where Confucian thought and practice intersect with those of other traditions. The Group embraces historical, philosophical, and dialogical approaches, and is not located in any single country or discipline.
Call for Papers:
This Group invites proposals concerning any aspect of Confucianism from any geographical area in any historical field with any methodological orientation.
For more details, including topics of particular interest and whom to contact, please see this webpage.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Loubna El Amine, Classical Confucian Political Thought: A New Interpretation, Princeton University Press, 2015, 218pp., $39.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780691163048.
Reviewed by Eric L. Hutton, University of Utah
This book’s subtitle, A New Interpretation, provides a convenient starting point for discussing its aims, methods, strengths and weaknesses. The interpretation offered aims to be new not merely in the sense that it argues for a view that previously has not (or not much) been defended by other scholars, but moreover and especially in that it aims to challenge claims made by other scholars. So described, the book might sound like it is primarily for specialists in ancient Chinese thought, and while Loubna El Amine never identifies her target audience very clearly, at points she also provides basic background information that would allow non-specialists to follow along. The book is thus potentially of interest to non-specialists as well, such as Western political philosophers and theorists who know little about Confucian political thought and want a compact and accessible discussion of Confucianism that speaks to their interests. This review will focus on those aspects in which the book addresses a specialist audience, but my discussion is equally for the benefit of non-specialists. As will become apparent from the reservations I express below, the value of the book for non-specialists needs to be carefully qualified, in a way to be explained at the end.
My review of Brook Ziporyn’s two-volume study of Chinese philosophy through the lens of “coherence” has now been published, and should be available to those with access to Dao. Here’s the first paragraph of the review:
The Confucian Academy (孔学堂) in Guiyang is a recently founded but flourishing enterprise with multiple dimensions, including a scholarly publishing arm. They have begun publishing a bilingual journal (all articles appear in both Chinese and English), and I attach the table of contents here. The Academy’s website is here.
The book Meditation and Culture: The Interplay of Practice and Context has been published by Bloomsbury Academic.
Bin Song, who holds a PhD in Western philosophy from Nankai University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Religious Studies at Boston University, has begun a series of blog posts in the Huffington Post under the general title, “A Catechism of Confucianism.” As he explains there, “as a Buddhist-Christian Confucian, the primary focus of Bin Song’s spiritual and academic life is to increase the relevance of traditional Confucianism to the contemporary global human society through a on-going dialogue with ordinary people, a variety of philosophical traditions, and non-Confucian world religions.”
Many of you know me as a scholar of Chinese philosophy. But I also have research interests that I pursue through the methods of experimental philosophy, which seeks to investigate philosophical questions through the methods of the empirical sciences (in my case, experimental psychology).
I’m co-organizing this workshop with Joshua Knobe and Kevin Tobia (Yale), which will concern (as its name implies) questions at the intersection of history of philosophy and experimental philosophy. It seems that many of the questions that have arisen recently in debates about experimental philosophy have also been discussed in other periods in the history of philosophy, including general issues surrounding armchair and experimental approaches to philosophy. We thought it would be helpful to hold a workshop in which scholars working in the history of philosophy could discuss these issues.
In my presentation, I will be outlining the ways in which this basic dynamic has played out in some periods in the history of Chinese philosophy. Continue reading “Experimental Philosophy Through History – February 2, 2016 at NYU”