THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Welcomes you to an IN-PERSON meeting:
Jing Hu (Concordia University): « War and Shame –A Debate on the Appropriate Response to Insults between the Confucians and their Interlocutors »
With responses from Nalei Chen (New York University)
ABSTRACT: What is an appropriate response to humiliating treatments such as insults? This question is not only relevant to today’s discourse but has also piqued the curiosity of thinkers in classical Chinese philosophy. The Warring States period debate regarding whether one’s inner sense of shame can shield one from insulting situations and from experiencing shame is frequently presented as a one-sided narrative that focuses on the Confucian texts. Meanwhile, the views of their rival thinkers, such as the Daoist, legalist, or much-neglected Songzi (3rd century BCE), are rarely the focus of attention. This paper brings Songzi, a key player in the debate of emotions as responses to external triggers, into the picture and restores the historical intellectual discourse over the topic of what constitutes an appropriate response to humiliating situations such as insults. More importantly, I point out the philosophical significance of this debate, namely how Songzi prompts Xunzi to respond to an ambiguity within the Confucian doctrine: The early Confucians appear to think that an individual’s internal virtues can isolate and shield one from hostile external stimuli while also maintaining that the external environment impacts one’s moral cultivation and moral life in significant ways. Xunzi’s strategic move, I argue, is to give credit to both an inner sense of shame and the function of external stimuli in inducing negative emotions, thus making an important philosophical concession compared to Confucius and Mencius.
DATE: September 15, 2023
TIME: 5:30 pm EST
LOCATION: Philosophy Hall, Room 716, Columbia University, 1150 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027
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