this is to inform you about the international conference “Selfhood, Otherness, and Cultivation. Phenomenology and Chinese Philosophy” (March 18-20, at National Chengchi University in Taipei). You can still register on our website which also contains many helpful information (list of speakers, abstracts, etc.). The conference is co-hosted by the philosophy department and the interdisciplinary “Research Center on Chinese Cultural Subjectivity in Taiwan” at National Chengchi University. Our guest of honor is Dan Zahavi (Kopenhagen/Oxford) who, besides participating in our conference, will also give a series of lectures next week (see here).
Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, “profilicity,” and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
Philosophy today runs the risk of once more becoming the “handmaiden of theology” by being put in the service of civil religion. The Kantian concept of critique is revived to reflect on contemporary dogmatism and associated power structures that lead to phenomena such as “competitive wokeness” in entertainment (Taylor Swift) or the need to write “diversity statements” in academia. The idea of a therapeutic rather than a normative philosophy is suggested and it is explained how society, along with critique, evolves rather than progresses.
Why do we need to produce “virtue speech”? We need it to be competitive in society and to bolster our public profiles. A new profile-based identity paradigm, called “profilicity,” is on the rise. It is replacing other identity paradigms such as sincerity and authenticity and provides not only individuals but also institutions (political parties, companies, universities, etc.) with identity value.
Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
The phenomenon of virtue speech (“virtue signalling”) has become a central feature in recent outrage movements pervasive throughout the West. Virtue speech, which is implicitly tied to accusations of hate speech, is a form of moralistic discourse setting speech examples that make it difficult to openly discuss elements of our culture without falling into the trap of moralizing.
Civil religion plays a central role in the virtue speech, or political correctness, discourse. The history of the concept is discussed as well as the structure of the American form of civil religion and how tenets of civil religion are constantly being performed and re-enacted, particularly in current social media outrage movements.
Welcomes: Erica Brindley (Penn State University)
With a response from: Christopher Gowans (Fordham University)
Please join on us at Columbia University’s Religion Department on FRIDAY, November 2nd at 5:30 PM for her lecture entitled:
Spontaneous Arising and an Ethics of Creativity in Early Daoism
ABSTRACT: In the early part of the 20th century, Joseph Needham formulated a substantial claim concerning the Chinese predilection for self-generated creation rather than creator gods and myths. Half a century later, scholars working in the West like Frederick Mote, Derk Bodde, and Chang Kwang-chih picked up on Needham’s insight to discuss the so-called lack of a “creation myth” in early Chinese culture, basing their arguments on what they called the “inner necessity” or “spontaneously self-generating” nature of things in the cosmos. While the claim that there are no creator gods or myths in early China is false and has since been convincingly refuted by many scholars, there may indeed be a way in which Bodde and company were onto something. In this talk, I will show how the notions of “inner necessity” and “spontaneity” are close but not the best fit for understanding certain early Chinese accounts of creation and the creative process. Continue reading →
Paul D’Ambrosio, “From present to presentation: A philosophical critique of Hartmut Rosa’s ‘situational identity'” has just been published in the journal Time and Society. Paul informs me that it includes lots on Daoism. Here’s the link: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0961463X18787059.
(Please continue to send me information about anything related to Chinese or comparative philosophy published outside the specialist journals that we routinely cover here at Warp, Weft, and Way.)
Hans-Georg Moeller and Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Genuine Pretending: On the Philosophy of the Zhuangzi, Columbia University Press, 2017, 221 pp., $35.00, ISBN 9780231183994.
Reviewed by Susan Blake, Bard College
“A romp through ‘the vast wilds of open nowhere'” — Roger Ebert
“Better than any existing work on humor” — Aristotle
“Nothing more than a success” — Guy Smiley
“A demonstration of nothing . . . in a technical sense” — Ford Prefect
“A tour de force through the ‘homeland of non-even-anything'” — Steven Colbert
This book presents a novel reading of the Zhuangzi that illuminates its humor and presents it as responding to philosophical concerns of its day. To the extent that these philosophical concerns are also those of the present day — the search for a sane and healthy response to the impossible demands of sincerity — we can, through the discussion here, gain an understanding of an alternative to the unsatisfying ethical approaches of both sincerity and authenticity. The book is impressive in bringing together diverse passages in this difficult text under one interpretation.
Hans-Georg Moeller and Paul J. D’Ambrosio will be giving a lecture on their new book
on the philosophy of the Zhuangzi at Ghent University on June 1, 2018. The lecture is entitled
“Genuine Pretending: A Daoist Mode of Existence”.
Venue: Ghent University, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Campus Boekentoren (Blandijnberg 2), Ghent (Belgium), 5th floor, room 150.018. Time: 14.00 – 15.30. The poster is available here.