Problematising harmony, disrupting harmony: perspectives from philosophical traditions

19th-20th May 2022

Philosophy Department, Nanyang Technological University

In-person and via Zoom

The idea of harmony has positive connotations. We consider ourselves fortunate if we live in a harmonious neighbourhood or a harmonious society. Harmonious music is pleasing to the ear, as is harmonious architecture to the eye. People who see eye to eye are harmonious in their beliefs and perhaps in their sentiment. “Harmony” often also suggests a condition manifesting desirable equilibrium, or proportion, or balance (that may also be ethical or aesthetic in nature), across a range of human activities, projects and collaborations.

Yet, we have to ask if harmony comes at a cost. In traditions that value or maintain harmony, is dissonance tolerated, and how so? Is cacophony jarring? How is discord expressed, and how is incompatibility resolved? Are disruptions of harmony disagreeable and incoherent, perhaps unruly and even pugnacious? At this conference, we look to different philosophical traditions to address and explore problems associated with the imposition or maintenance of harmony as an ideal, applied to the range of human contexts, activities and aspects of life.


Karyn Lai, School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Li Chenyang, School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University



Rick Benitez (Sydney University)
He Fan (Sichuan University)
Yuko Ishihara (Ritsumeikan University)
Sungmoon Kim (City University, Hong Kong)
Avery Kolers (University of Louisville)
Karyn Lai (University of New South Wales):
Lilith Lee (Nanyang Technological University)
Roni Yat-hung Leung (East China Normal University)
Li Chenyang (Nanyang Technological University)
Derek Lomas (Delft University of Technology)
Katsunori Miyahara (Hokkaido University)
Matthew Walker (Yale-NUS College, Singapore)


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