Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

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


Tao JIANG (Rutgers University)
Stephen Angle (Wesleyan University)
Ruth Chang (Rutgers University)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

8:45 am – 9:00 am
Welcome Remarks

Joanna Regulska (Vice President for International and Global Affairs, Rutgers University)
Jeffrey King (Chair, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University)

9:00 am – 10:30 am
The Role of Nature in Early Confucian Ethics

Moderator: Ching-I TU (Rutgers University)

Kwong-loi SHUN (Chinese University of Hong Kong) — Ethical Justification and Ethical Appeal
Sor-hoon TAN (National University of Singapore) — Xunzi and Naturalistic Ethics

Commentator: Ruth Chang (Rutgers University)

10:30 am – 10:45 am Coffee Break

10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Nature and Norm in Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism

Moderator: Sukhee Lee (Rutgers University)

Stephen Angle (Wesleyan University) — Nature (xing) as Ground of Ethics: Neo-Confucianism And/Versus Buddhism
Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University) — The Relationship between Imperatives and Natural Tendencies in Neo-Confucianism

Commentator: Barry Leower (Rutgers University)

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm Lunch

1:45 pm – 3:45 pm
Crafting Human Nature in Early Confucianism

Moderator: Wendy Swartz (Rutgers University) Presenters:

Amy Olberding (University of Oklahoma) — From Corpses to Courtesy: Xunzi’s Defense of the Artifice of Etiquette
Hagop Sarkissian (Baruch College, CUNY) — Manipulating Human Nature in Early Chinese Thought
David Wong (Duke University) — The Moral Craftsmen of Human Nature in the Analects and the Xunzi

Commentator: Owen Flanagan (Duke University)

3:45 pm – 4:00 pm Coffee Break

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Happiness and Compassion in Comparative Ethics

Moderator: Jessey Choo (Rutgers University)

Jiyuan YU (SUNY Buffalo) — Moral Naturalism in Daoism and Stoicism
Tongdong BAI (Fudan University, China) — Mencius, Nietzsche, and the Nature of Compassion

Commentator: Michael Slote (University of Miami)

5:30 pm Reception and Dinner

Friday, April 5, 2013

9:00 am – 10:30 am
Facts and Values in Neo-Confucianism

Moderator: Deborah Sommer (Gettysburg College)

HUANG Yong (Kutztown University) — How To Derive Ought from Is: Zhu Xi’s Neo- Confucian Approach
PENG Guoxiang (Peking University, China) — Nature as Value: A Confucian One-body Ecological Vision

Commentator: Holly Smith (Rutgers University)

10:30 am – 10:45 am Coffee Break

10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Chinese Naturalistic Metaethics in Comparative Perspective

Moderator: Peter Klein (Rutgers University)

Chris Fraser (University of Hong Kong) — Chinese Naturalism and the Limits of Ethics
JeeLoo LIU (California State University, Fullerton) — Grounding Objectivity in Confucian Ethics

Commentator: Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers University)

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm Lunch

1:45 pm – 3:45 pm
Virtue Epistemology and Chinese Philosophy

Moderator: Chun-fang Yu (Columbia University)

Chienkuo MI (Soochow University, Taiwan) — What Is Knowledge? When Confucius Meets Ernest Sosa
Rueylin CHEN (National Chung-Cheng University, Taiwan) — Intellectual Virtues and Craft Knowledge in Traditional China
Hsiang-Min SHEN (Soochow University, Taiwan) — On Zhu Xi’s Theory of Investigation, Knowledge and Intellectual Virtue: A Perspective from Virtue Epistemology

Commentator: Ernest Sosa (Rutgers University)

3:45 pm – 4:00 pm Coffee Break

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
The Problem of Freedom in Confucian and Daoist Philosophical Projects

Moderator: Richard Simmons (Rutgers University)

Tao JIANG (Rutgers University) — Isaiah Berlin and the Problem of Spiritual Freedom in the Zhuangzi
Kai Marchal (Soochow University, Taiwan) — Paradoxes and Possibilities of “Confucian Freedom”: From Yan Fu (1853-1921) to Mou Zongsan (1909-1995)

Commentator: Larry Temkin (Rutgers University)

6:00 pm Dinner

Special thanks to our sponsors whose generous support has made this conference possible:

Confucius Institute of Rutgers University, Dean of Humanities at School of Arts and Sciences, Director of Rutgers China Office, Department of Philosophy, and Department of Religion

All inquiries should be directed to Ms. Susan Rosario srosa@rci.rutgers.edu.


  1. Dear Madam/Sir,

    Greetings from Bangladesh Buddhist Federation (BBF), Dhaka, Bangladesh!

    I’d like to bring your kind attention that I’m interested to attend the conference that you’re organizing.

    Please note that BBF is a non-profit organization working in the field of religious education and social welfare as well as non-violence, human rights, cultural development and child protection.

    I’m sincerely requesting you that you please send me necessary information about the conference.

    Pratim Barua
    Youth Coordinator
    Bangladesh Buddhist Federation (BBF)
    Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  2. Steve, I am happy for those activities, the more the better. But using the word “philosophy” for Chinese thought seems as controversial as calling Confucianism a “religion.” There is just no word for “philosophy” in the Chinese canon; they have their very own Chinese categories and taxonomy and I still hope that one day global scholarship will recognize cultural property rights and employ the correct Chinese terminologies.

  3. I know how big the pressure is on young green scholars to submit to old categories and continue a sort of cultural imperialism, e. g. simply annotating “Chinese” to Western categories, thus “Chinese philosophy” or “Chinese dragon” or “Chinese religion.” I also understand that so many Chinese people who were educated in the West would rather drop the correct Chinese terminology and become professors in the West. That is the easy way. The hard way is to be truthful and honest and insist on the correct Chinese terminologies when talking about their culture. Because if they don’t promote their own unique terminologies back into World history, that World history will be, literally, totally Chinese-free.

    • Or, we could take a less realist view of language where culturally constructed terms from the past do not wholly determine contemporary meaning.

    • Indeed. That is something I mentioned before to Thorsten, as exemplified by Erica Brindley’s work on ‘individualism.’

    • Action is better than cynicism. Do something about scholars who call Chinese shengren and junzi whatever they want except by the their correct names: shengren and junzi. Now, that would be true scholarship, and something similar is already done in most other disciplines, Japanology and Indology and Buddhology. Only in Sinology our “scholars” still call Chinese concepts by convenient, often biblical or philosophical names and terms. This distorts the reality of Chinese traditions and its socio-cultural reality. Just saying.

    • What does it take not to “distort the reality of Chinese traditions”? Why don’t you refer to ‘China’ as ‘Zhongguo’, for instance? Or better yet 中國?

  4. I find myself disagreeing with much of what TP says and suggests here. I’ll address a few points.

    Recently in my propaganda efforts aimed at China, I was working with a group to write up a short film that discussed, among other things, a misleadingly titled law against “aggressive panhandling” in a town in California. A county court invalidated the measure on First Amendment grounds, and part of the reason was that the law simply targeted panhandling in general, not aggression. I wrote in English, carefully repeating the word “aggressive” in various stories and contexts as a device for making our point economically. Alas, it turned out that we (including several well-read Chinese people) could not find a Chinese near equivalent of that term. Thorsten, would that linguistic point, if correct, convince you that there is no aggressiveness in China?

    I wonder, Thorsten, what you take “philosophy” to mean.
    (Cf. http://warpweftandway.com/2012/09/11/buffalo-iscp-international-conference-on-chinese-philosophy/#comment-4229 )

    I think the main westerners who speak of Chinese “philosophy” are people working in philosophy departments, young and old. Mainly they are interested in Chinese philosophy because they are interested in philosophy and they respect the possibility of contributions from (early) Chinese thinkers. Mainly it’s not that they started out by being interested in what the early Chinese thinkers were doing. The use of the phrase “Chinese philosophy” in documents such as academic articles and (especially) course titles does have certain pragmatic purposes: mainly to secure at least some positive attention for the Chinese materials (and, as always in academic life, for the academics themselves). The aim is not “cultural imperialism.”

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