West-East Cooperation

This is related to Steve’s post about the recent APA panel on embodied cognition.  But since my question strays a bit away from that, I thought I’d start a new thread.

First, thanks, Steve, for the great information, especially for the link to the participants of the summer institute!  (And, Steve, do have an equivalent participants list from your Virtue Ethics summer institute?)

If anyone can help, I’m interested in knowing more about Western specialists who are dipping into non-Western philosophy, especially Chinese philosophy.

I know of Owen Flanagan and Michael Slote, of course. I also know that Karyn Lai and Stephen Hetherington are working together. Previously, there have been Hall & Ames (in Chinese and political philosophy) and Lloyd & Sivin (on the edge of philosophy). David Wong and Joel Kupperman each made names for themselves first on the Western side but have found inspiration from the Eastern side (as well have having done significant work on the Eastern side in the case of Wong).

What other kinds of openness to East-West cooperation is happening from the Western side?

Further, this blog has discussed the dearth of Ph.D. programs in Chinese philosophy, but what about other avenues for training/cooperation?  The NEH summer institutes mentioned above are great examples.  Are there others–for folks with a Ph.D. in a Western specialty but who want to know more about Asian philosophy?  I know that for instruction, the Asian Studies Development Program has been holding summer institutes for college and university faculty who want to infuse Asian content into the undergraduate curriculum generally.  There is also the Nishan Confucian Studies Summer Institute for teachers.  What else is going on?  Who is cooperating with whom?  Which Western specialists are dipping into Asian philosophy?  What avenues do they have for cooperation or training?  Which Asian specialists are successfully reaching out to their Western colleagues?

Any information would be appreciated.


11 thoughts on “West-East Cooperation

  1. In terms of questions about avenues for training and co-operation, it seems to me that here in the UK, although many universities profess an interest in East Asia, all too frequently East Asia is seen simply as a market to prop up an increasingly underfunded university sector, rather than as offering a set of opportunities for genuine intellectual engagement. Longer term, this strategy will serve nobody well. And certainly, if continental philosophy is already not particularly welcome in many university departments over here, non-Western philosophy does not get a look-in outside of specialist East Asian courses. As a result, it can sometimes seem that East Asian specialists and philosophers move in very different circles. But it also occurs to me (and here I am talking particularly about the UK) that it is not always clear how to find out what is going on and where, as things are a bit fragmented.

    My own background is art history, anthropology and a PhD in continental philosophy (phenomenology, ethics, Levinas). So I am not an East Asian / China specialist. However, I’ve found myself increasingly involved in matters Chinese. I write fiction as well as philosophy, and currently teach creative writing (not philosophy) at De Montfort University in the UK, and I started getting to grips with Chinese material a few years back in the early stages of research for a novel based on, of all things, the Yijing. Since then, I found myself sucked in and things have gathered some momentum. Currently I’m working on a number of projects, one of which is borderline philosophical, looking at the Wenxin diaolong’s uses as a pedagogical tool for writers, and one of which is more strictly philosophical (and in the early stages), using Chinese philosophy as a counterbalance to a certain strain of tragic drama within the Western philosophical tradition.

    Over the last few years I’ve started building up a number of good personal links to support my work (and was generously funded to make a substantial research trip to China in 2010); but I would certainly welcome more robust opportunities for training and collaboration.

  2. Brian: I believe I count, also, as a non-China scholar with an avid interest in Chinese thought and history. Two recent contributions to the field are: [1] an edited collection, Prospects for the Professions in China (Routledge 2011), with my Harvard colleagues William Alford and William Kirby; and [2] an article, “The Internal Morality of Chinese Legalism,” published originally in the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies (2005) and, in Chinese translation, in The Journal of Legal and Economic Studies (2010). I have extra copies of the volume on the professions and would be glad to send one to you, or to anyone else with an interest. — Ken Winston, Harvard Kennedy School

  3. I can certainly provide a list of the participants in the 2008 NEH Summer Seminar that Michael and I led, “Traditions Into Dialogue: Confucianism and Contemporary Virtue Ethics.” (Because of some changes to the web infrastructure here at Wesleyan, the website is not accessible at the moment, and I don’t have the ability from my home computer to do anything about it, but I can probably fix that next week.) Here goes:
    Dennis Arjo
    Howard Curzer
    William Day
    Heidi Giebel
    James Harold
    Marion Hourdequin
    Benjamin Huff
    Sean McAleer
    Deborah Mower
    Christopher Panza
    Sara Rushing
    Andrew Terjesen
    Matthew Walker
    Sean Walsh
    Xiaomei Yang
    Since it was structured as an NEH Seminar, rather than Institute, Michael and I did most of the “instruction” ourselves, though we did have a few guest lecturers: Bryan Van Norden, Luo Shirong, May Sim, and Eric Hutton.

  4. Thanks so far for the useful comments.

    Will it’s good to know about the situation in the UK but not surprising that it is little different from the situation in the U.S. I took an opportunity to look up your work and find it quite fascinating. Your book on happiness might be a nice fit for a course I teach on the philosophy of life.

    Ken, it’s good to know about your work, too, and I will accept your offer for a copy of your book. You can send it to my EMU address (701 Pray Harrold , Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197)–thanks!

    Thanks, Steve, for the list–and also for mentioning the distinction between an NEH seminar vs. institute. Didn’t know about that.

  5. Hi, Brian, The happiness book is pretty lightweight (it was written to commission for a popular series), but it’s got a kind of breezy philosophical charm to it. There’s more there in the way of breadth than depth — but it might start a few interesting conversations. Let me know if you’d like a copy. I’d be happy to send one over. All the best, Will

  6. My name is Gabriella Stanchina, I achieved my PhD in Continental Philosophy at Catholic University of Milan, Italy, with a thesis about Novalis and Fichte. My fields of interest are Classical German Philosophy (Romanticism and Idealism) and contemporary French Philosophy. During my PhD, I became increasingly interested in Chinese thought and comparative Philosophy, and I felt that mastering Chinese language and Classical Chinese was of utmost importance to understand the sources of Chinese tradition. I’ll be graduating in June with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Language and Culture at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and I’m going to apply for the EMA in Chinese Philosophy at Fudan University. I would like to study in a multicultural, stimulating environment and have the opportunity of improve my Chinese. I’m particularly interested, from a comparative viewpoint, in Song-Ming Neoconfucianism (especially epistemology and theory of mind) and contemporary New Confucianism. I follow this blog since a long time and I hope in the future I will be able to contribute with my research to China-West philosophical comparative studies. Thank You for Your precious work.

  7. Thanks for the introduction, Gabriella–a fascinating intellectual journey. You must have the good fortune of studying with Attilio Andreini in Venice. Take full advantage.

  8. Hi Brian, David Velleman is another one who comes to mind, though as far as I know he’s just got the one paper on Zhuangzi. I assume you meant Western specialists at Western universities who are interested in Asian thought. If you’re also interested in specialists in Western philosophy in Asian universities who do some work in Asian philosophy I can think of a few names.

    • Velleman, yes. Thanks for the reminder.

      I didn’t mention it in the original post, but I’m mostly interested in Western specialists in American universities, in order to keep my scope manageable.

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