PHL337 Classical Chinese Ethics

This course explores and critiques personal and social ethical ideals as presented in early Chinese Confucian, Mohist, and Daoist writings and considers their relevance to issues in contemporary ethics. Major texts discussed include the Analects, Mèngzǐ, Xúnzǐ, Mòzǐ, Dàodéjīng, and Zhuāngzǐ. Central questions examined include: What is the way (dào)? What standards can guide us in following the way? What grounds can we have for confidence that these are the correct standards? What kind of person should we strive to be? What is virtue ()? What values take priority in a life of virtue? How does the person of virtue act?

Lecture Topics

1. Introduction
2. Benevolence and Ritual Propriety in the Confucian Analects
3. Role Ethics and the Ideal of the Gentleman in Early Confucianism
4. Human Flourishing, Ritual Propriety, and Discretion in Mèngzǐ
5. Ethical Theory in the Xúnzǐ: Ritual Propriety and Collective Flourishing
6. The Good Life in the Xúnzǐ
7. Mohist Consequentialism
8. Mohism and All-Inclusive Care
9. The Dàodéjīng: Non-Acting along the Unspoken Way
10. The Zhuāngzǐ’s Critique of Value
11. The Zhuāngzǐ on Appropriate Action
12. The Wandering Life in Zhuāngzǐ