Winner: Shu-shan Lee, “ ‘What Did the Emperor Ever Say’—The Public Transcript of Confucian Political Obligation,” Dao 19. 2: 231-250
What is the Confucian conception of political obligation? While there is a widespread view
that it demands people’s absolute obedience to their rulers, there are also scholars arguing
that it includes people’s duty to correct rulers. In this award-winning essay, Shu-shan Lee
shows that the former lacks textual support, while the latter confuses Confucian scholar-
officials’ political duty with commoners’ political obligations. Instead, Lee argues,
convincingly, that imperial Confucian political obligation is a conditional theory of
paternalistic gratitude: common people’s obedience to their rulers is an expression of, and
thus is conditional upon, their rulers’ benevolent care for them. This ground-breaking
conception of Confucian political obligation results from Lee’s careful study, integrating
multi-faceted perspectives, philosophical and historical, theoretical and empirical, and
ancient and contemporary. It is the type of research that Dao aims to promote.
24 OCTOBER 2020, SATURDAY | 10:00 AM TO 6:00 PM (UTC +8) ZOOM MEETING- ID: 976 4344 1616 | PASSCODE: 241 HTTPS://UMAC.ZOOM.US/J/97643441616?PWD=BTJYBLH5NMTNSDFFA2NML285WDJLUT0924
Critical theory is a Western, and distinctly European, intellectual tradition that drew its normative resources from the social and political events that transpired in Europe over the course of the 20th century. It is relevant to ask the question whether, as a critical-practical tradition, critical theory has anything to contribute outside the Western-European context, given the emergence of globalization and the issues that arose with it. For some, the Eurocentrism of critical theory is symptomatic of its very own crisis, one which challenges the universality of its normative claims, e.g., the abolition of social injustice. Is it possible for critical theory to overcome its Eurocentrism and, therefore, its own crisis? The irony is that critical theory is only able to defend the universality of its normative claims when it is able to renew itself. If it is at all possible to renew critical theory, what does this renewal entail? The workshop will pursue these questions by expanding the scope of traditional critical theory, especially, but not exclusively, by drawing on critical perspectives on modern societies and emancipation movements that have originated in Asia.
Oxford University Press has just published my new book on early Confucian social thought, and what contemporary people might learn from it: Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority. The publisher’s page is here. At present the cheapest way to purchase it is directly from Oxford, with a discount code for 30% off (AAFLYG6).
This comes with hearty thanks to Steve Angle and Bryan Van Norden, who were belatedly revealed as the press’s referees.
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.