Welcomes intrepid Warper & Wefter MANYUL IM, Department of Philosophy, Fairfield University
With responses from Michael Brownstein, Department of Philosophy, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Please join us at Columbia University Department of Religion on April 12, 2013 at 5:45pm for his lecture entitled
Spontaneity, Deliberation, and Valuing in Early China
ABSTRACT: Spontaneity as an aspect of virtuosity, understood broadly as some kind of unmediated, yet appropriate and highly skilled response to situations, seems valued in early Chinese discussions of exemplary people. There are also influential Western versions of such valuing. But the unmediated nature of these responses raises questions about whether and why the ensuing action is praiseworthy. The problem for early Chinese views is a special case of a general philosophical problem about habituation and skill acquisition, and the resulting apparent virtuosity of the skilled agent. In this paper, I want to explore a potential dilemma posed by valuing this kind of spontaneity in action, understood as practical immediacy between situational inputs and action outputs. As an exercise in comparative philosophy, I take this argument up with special attention to such spontaneity as valued in early Confucian and Daoist views about virtuous and virtuoso action, respectively. I will suggest at the end that the dilemma is serious more for, roughly, moralistic Western ethical thought and not as threatening for Daoism or Confucianism.