Category Archives: Emotions

Book of Interest: Cairns and Virág, eds., In the Mind, in the Body, in the World

Oxford University Press has recently published Douglas Cairns and Curie Virág, eds., In the Mind, in the Body, in the World: Emotions in Early China and Ancient GreeceThe Oxford Scholarship Online version (with links to all the abstracts, and full text for those with institutional subscriptions) is here:

And the print version is here:

Richard Kim – Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy Lecture: “THE ROLE OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS IN THE GOOD LIFE: REFLECTIONS FROM THE ZHUANGZI” Friday October 11 at 5:30pm


Welcomes: RICHARD KIM (Loyola University Chicago)
With responses from: CHRISTOPHER GOWANS  (Fordham University)

Please join on October 11, 2019 at 5:30 for his lecture entitled,


ABSTRACT: The philosophical and psychological literature on well-being tend to focus on the prudential value of positive emotions such as pleasure, joy, or gratitude. But how do the negative emotions such as grief fit into our understanding of well-being? It is often assumed that negative emotions are intrinsically bad far us and that we should work toward eliminating them, especially from the perspective of our own well-being. Continue reading →

Sanders Reviews Virág at BMCR

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.03.58 (on the BMCR blog)

Curie Virág, The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy. Emotions of the past. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xiii, 219. ISBN 9780190498818. $90.00.

Reviewed by Ed Sanders, University of Roehampton (

Early Chinese philosophy is outside the usual range of BMCR’s interests, but this review considers the book from a Classicist’s perspective. The period covered by the volume is the early-5th to the late-3rd centuries BCE, the ‘Warring States’ period in China, when political disunity created the situations in which a number of philosophers and their schools could flourish. These schools were characterized inter alia by a wide range of views on emotion, and this volume examines the place of emotions within their various natural, psychological, ethical and political philosophies. The exact mix of these varies quite considerably between schools.
The introduction notes that the primary term for ‘emotions’ (qing) developed early in this period out of its earlier meaning of ‘how things are’, and includes both objective and subjective aspects. Lists of ‘basic feelings’ comprised some or all of “joy (xi), anger (nu), sadness (ai), delight/pleasure (le), fear (ju), love (ai), dislike (wu), and desire (yu)” (p. 6, Chinese characters removed). This suggests that other emotions might involve more complex mixtures of these – though the point is not developed.

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Bern Workshop on Emotions as Skills in Chinese and Græco-Roman Ethics

The Good Life and the Art of Feeling: Emotions as Skills in Chinese and Græco-Roman Ethics
Workshop, University of Bern, June 7-9
The workshop is a part of the project “The Art of Feeling: Cultivated Emotions in Early Chinese and Græco-Roman Thought” at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Bern (Project description here) and will consist in talks by several prominent scholars of Ancient and Chinese philosophy and open discussions. The poster with more information is here.
The workshop is open to anyone interested, but registration is required to participate in the conference dinner and for accommodation.
For registration and further information, please contact David Machek at

Discussion of Slote’s “Reset Button”

The article from the current issue of Dao that we have chosen for discussion is Michael Slote’s “The Philosophical Reset Button: A Manifesto,” available via open-access here. This time around, we offer opening comments from both BAI Tongdong of Fudan University, and myself (Steve Angle). Those comments follow here, and let the discussion begin!

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New issue of Dao out / New article discussion upcoming

The latest issue of Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy has been published. We will continue our series of sponsoring discussion of an article from each issue; this time, we have chosen Michael Slote’s “The Philosophical Reset Button: A Manifesto.” It will be set to open-access, and within a week or so we will have a post announcing that the discussion is open. To whet your appetite, here is the abstract:

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Louis CK and Mengzi

This clip (below) from Louis CK’s most recent interview on Conan made a splash on social networks.  The whole thing is pretty funny, but the first minute or so reminded me of Mencius 1A7.

Part of what prevents the king in 1A7 from becoming a genuine king in that passage is his disconnect from his subjects.  He feels the suffering of the ox and this tugs at his sprout of compassion.  By contrast, he doesn’t see the suffering of his subjects, so he feels no sympathy for them and fails to treat them benevolently.

Louis CK raises the same general issue for children today and cellphone use. Continue reading →

Against Empathy

The following article in this week’s New Yorker by Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has been circulating in social networks:

The Baby in the Well: The Case Against Empathy

Despite what many of us on this blog might initially wonder, the title of the paper does not refer to Mencius’s famous thought experiment.  (Instead, it refers to the famous case of an actual child in a well that led to a worldwide media circus in the 1980s.)  Nonetheless, the article may be of interest to those of us working in Confucian ethics and moral psychology.

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