I’d like to announce the publication of my new book Ziran: The Philosophy of Spontaneous Self-Causation. Targeted specifically at students, this book takes a key concept form early Chinese metaphysics—ziran 自然—and applies it to several fields of contemporary scholarship.
Category Archives: Nature
Body and Cosmos in China: An Interdisciplinary Symposium in Honor of Nathan Sivin
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:
Awalt-Conley, Neo-Confucianism and Physicalism
At my invitation, my former student Dylan Awalt-Conley has agreed to make the following short essay public as a Guest Post. Please address any questions or comments to Dylan.
Neo-Confucianism and Physicalism
© 2016, Dylan Awalt-Conley
Despite general enthusiasm for engaging with the Neo-Confucian imaginary in a serious philosophical way, there seem to be some widely held reservations against its use in scientific contexts. Yet I believe that much of the intuitive incompatibility between the Cheng-Zhu metaphysic and a scientific framework comes from a sense of ‘science’ that is constrained by an implicit ontological reductionism. If we are willing to take Neo-Confucianism seriously, then the ontology invoked by concepts like li and qi can provide an experimentally sound alternative to physicalism, complete with new ways of thinking and working scientifically.
International Conference on Nature and Value in Chinese and Western Philosophies
I am pleased to be able to share the program for a conference that Tao Jiang of Rutgers University has organized, with some assistance from me and from Ruth Chang of Rutgers. Anyone who is interested in attending can contact Ms. Susan Rosario (see below) for information.
1st Annual Rutgers Workshop on Chinese Philosophy (RWCP)
An International Conference on Nature and Value in Chinese and Western Philosophies
April 4-5, 2013
Rutgers University Inn & Conference Center 178 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Xunzi and the Mohists on Natural Disasters
In a famous passage, Xúnzǐ argues that natural disasters lead to catastrophe only because of human failings: with the proper preparation, floods and droughts still occur, but do not devastate. I’m probably not the only friend of this blog who found special poignancy in this argument while lecturing on it in the aftermath of Katrina.
The news today has been good. Irene seems to have weakened unexpectedly. (I hope this hasn’t changed since last I saw good information.) Here in Philadelphia, it looks like we’ll get a category one hurricane, the equivalent (in Hong Kong terms) of a typhoon signal ten. I think there was just one of those in the ten years I lived in Hong Kong; we didn’t even lose internet. I’m preparing mostly by baking lots of bread and making lots of hummus. I’m still a bit nervous, because I don’t know what I can expect from local construction, and the American infrastructure is (understandably, to an extent) less robust than Hong Kong’s. And there are lots of people more vulnerable than I am, and lots of people who have been and are going to be hit harder. I’m glad that friends have evacuated the Jersey shore, and am proud of friends who are part of the preparations and will be part of the response.
In any case, it’s got me thinking about Xúnzǐ, and also about the Mohists, who would have interpreted a storm like Irene as a punishment from heaven. Continue reading →