Sun 30 Oct 2016
The following is a contribution to the forthcoming Dao Companion to Chinese Philosophy of Logic, edited by my colleague Yiu-ming Fung, Professor Emeritus at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The article surveys the role of paradoxes in classical Chinese thought.
For a collection of articles on early Chinese philosophy of language and logic, see this page.
Sun 30 Oct 2016
The following is a contribution to the forthcoming Dao Companion to Chinese Philosophy of Logic, edited by my colleague Yiu-ming Fung, Professor Emeritus at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The article reviews and addresses the controversy over whether there is a concept of truth in classical Chinese philosophy and whether early Chinese thinkers offered theories of truth. A link to the full draft follows the introduction below.
Wed 19 Oct 2016
I have a longish paper on Mohism and just war theory forthcoming in Journal of Chinese Military History that explores details of Mohist just war theory and how it relates to the other most well-developed early Chinese view of just war, the doctrine of "righteous arms" in The Annals of Lu Buwei.
The abstract and a link to the full draft are posted below. The paper is a vastly expanded treatment of a topic also discussed in The Philosophy of the Mozi.
To me, one of the most intriguing points in the discussion is what early Chinese discourse on the ethics of war reveals about pre-Han conceptions of state sovereignty and national identity. This paragraph of the paper presents the issues:
Tue 18 Oct 2016
I will not be teaching undergraduate courses during the 2016–2017 academic year.
PHIL1034 will be taught by Dr. Arthur Chin in semester 2, January–May 2017.
I will offer undergraduate courses again in the 2017–2018 academic year, most likely these courses:
- PHIL1034 Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Politics
- PHIL2430 Chinese Philosophy: Ethics
- PHIL2450 Zhuangzi
Wed 23 Mar 2016
My recent book The Philosophy of the Mozi: The First Consequentialists (Columbia University Press, 2016) is now available. The table of contents is here, and I've posted an author's draft of the Preface here. The Amazon.com listing is here.
Tue 1 Mar 2016
This coming summer I will be contributing to an exciting interdisciplinary, comparative summer course entitled “What Makes Us Human? Philosophical and Religious Perspectives in China and the West” to be held at Central European University in Budapest from July 4 to 15. The course looks at the question of what it is to be human from a range of intellectual perspectives in traditional Chinese and Greek thought, covering philosophy, psychology, religion,
Applications are still open, for those interested.
Here’s the course description from the program catalogue:
Sat 3 Oct 2015
Professor A. C. Graham was among the most influential international scholars of early Chinese thought working in the second half of the twentieth century. In honor of his career, Professors Carine Defoort and Roger Ames are planning an anthology of essays to be published on the twentieth anniversary of his death. The working title is Having a Word with Angus Graham: On the First Quarter Century of his Immortality. The theme of the volume is dialogues with A. C. Graham, so I thought an appropriate contribution would be an actual dialogue about Professor Graham's interpretations of the Mohist Dialectics, Zhuangzi, and the relation between these texts.
The dialogue attempts to do justice to Graham's reading of the texts while also questioning many aspects of his interpretation. It culminates with a conclusion concerning Zhuangzi about which I hope we can agree with Graham.
July 2016: A revised author's draft of the paper can be downloaded here.
Mon 3 Aug 2015
In the 2015–2016 academic year, I will be teaching the following:
PHIL2470 Moral Psychology in the Chinese Tradition (Friday 12:30–14:20)
PHIL3810/6810 Senior Seminar (Friday 15:30–17:20)
PHIL1034 Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Politics, East and West (Friday 12:30–14:20)
PHIL6820 Graduate Seminar (Friday 15:30–17:20)
Tue 7 Apr 2015
Tue 18 Nov 2014
This paper is a draft of my contribution to Justin Tiwald, ed., Oxford Handbook of Chinese Philosophy, Oxford University Press. The paper attempts to draw out some of the radical implications of remarks on "benevolence and propriety" found in Daoist texts.
The full draft is available here (revised August 2015). An abstract follows.
A Daoist Critique of Morality
A striking passage from the Daoist classic Zhuangzi likens devoting oneself to benevolence and propriety and seeking to distinguish right from wrong to suffering the ancient Chinese corporal punishments of tattooing the convict’s face and amputating the nose. Commonsense morality is not merely a mistake, the passage implies. It mutilates us, leaving us blind to the features by which to navigate the Way. This astonishing rejection not just of a particular understanding of morality but of the very idea of morality as a guide to action is representative of an intriguing thread of discourse that winds through several of the classical Chinese philosophical anthologies. According to this discourse, benevolence and propriety obscure the Way and impair our ability to follow it. They are a sign of pathology, they interfere with people’s spontaneous capacities, they are redundant, and they are an obstacle to adroit action. This talk aims to elucidate these themes, explain their significance in the context of early Chinese ethics, and relate them to ethical discourse today. I explain how, given early Daoists’ understanding of the structure of action and of the factors that guide it, their critique may be surprisingly plausible. I attempt briefly to situate the Daoist critique in relation to well-known ‘morality critics’ in the West, including contemporary writers such as Nagel, Wolf, and Williams and nineteenth-century figures such as Nietzsche and James. I then consider potential objections to the Daoist position and tentatively suggest how Daoists might respond.