ABSTRACT: I argue that there are two pervasive and enduring Western attitudes toward warfare, one involves the romanticism of violent conflict, the other concerns moral justification for it. These stand in sharp contrast to the traditional Chinese attitude as put forward in the Chinese classic treatises on warfare, the Sunzi and Sun Bin. I also reference similar concerns articulated in Daoist and to a lesser extent Confucian classics in order to both confirm and clarify this position. Combining some of the most important and influential texts with those most relevant to our topic, I identify and explicate what I call "the traditional Chinese attitude toward warfare" as a critique of the two widespread Western attitudes. Finally, I explore the implications of the West abandoning its romantic and moralistic attitudes.
ABSTRACT: This is a critique of P. J. Ivanhoe's interpretation of Xunzi's conception of the way as a singularly correct course that is timeless and unchanging in every detail. I focus on the chapter called "Dispelling Obsessions" (jiebi), thinking through key passages. In contrast to Ivanhoe's views, I offer a sketch of "Confucian constructivism"—the view that social norms are flexible and evolving social artifice devised to facilitate social harmony. I argue that adopting this perspective enables a more consistent account of Xunzi's thought.
ABSTRACT: In this paper I show how certain interpretations of the concepts of li and lei patterns and categories, tend to support the theory that the dao of the sage kings was perfect in every detail. In the second half of the paper, I question the viability of these interpretations, and offer an alternative. I call this alternative interpretation "constructivism" because it views categories as human constructs designed to be constructive. On this view, there is not one true way to understand the world and our roles and responsibilities in it. Rather, constructivism allows conceptual room for pluralism, as well as progress without teleology. While some ways of organizing social constructs are more conducive to forming a harmonious society than others, conceptually ordering our world is an ongoing process that has no final and perfect articulation.
ABSTRACT: This paper challenges the view of several interpreters of Xunzi regarding the status of names (ming). I maintain that Xunzi's view is consistent with the activity we see not only in his own efforts to influence language, but those of Confucius as well. Based on a reconsideration of translations and interpretations of key passages, I argue that names are regarded neither as mere labels nor as indicating a privileged taxonomy of the myriad phenomena. Rather, Xunzi conceives them as constructs designed to facilitate social goals. Finally, I suggest an alternative to overly simplistic understandings of how appropriate names are fashioned and of who is responsible for their form.
ABSTRACT: This paper has two interwoven aims. One is to offer a characterization of Confucian li (ritual or ritual propriety) as a rich and layered concept, both grounded in tradition and yet open to change. The other aim is, while elaborating on various aspects of li, to challenge the view that, for Xunzi, the rituals of the sage kings were uniquely valid.
ABSTRACT: The topic of this paper is moral development and its relation to Xunzi's underlying worldview. The main purpose is to show how Xunzi's understanding of virtue and moral development dovetails with his positions on ritual propriety, the attunement of names, the relation between li (patterns) and lei (categories), and his view of dao in general.
ABSTRACT: This is essentially a brief Japanese summary of the first half of my book. Click here for an abstract in Japanese.
ABSTRACT: In this paper I defend the position of East Asian leaders on human rights, arguing that they are having a positive influence on international moral discourse. Specifically, I maintain that, rather than wielding a "one size fits all" universalist conception of rights, we do better to contextualize rights. This would facilitate constructive cross-cultural engagement and thereby forward the effort to make meaningful progress on international moral causes. Further, this strategy is not a matter of mere prudence. It respects the fundamental moral tenet that the application of any moral principle must be attuned with requirements of justice--or what a Confucian would call yi (appropriateness).
(A longer version of this abstract can be found in presentations.)
ABSTRACT: While Sorai's intellectual debt to Xunzi is often mentioned, it is rarely discussed at length. Further, when discussions go beyond a few words, they tend to stress (apparent) differences (as we will see in Maruyama Masao's treatment). Without meaning to take anything away from Sorai as an independent thinker, I maintain that with regard to precisely those views for which Sorai is lauded as unique, that dao is a product of real people that evolved over time and continues to evolve, his position was also held by Xunzi. Regarding human nature, although Sorai stresses people's individuality while Xunzi stresses their commonality, Sorai provides a sophisticated interpretation of Zisi's position which, when compared to a nuanced reading of Xunzi's view, reveals similarities between the two. In addition, a significant yet rarely highlighted aspect of Xunzi's thought, that there is a feedback mechanism linking the historical development of dao with the cultivation of de (virtue), is also acknowledged by Sorai. That is, virtues acquired by participating in the way in turn qualify one to contribute to its continuous open-ended development.
Last Date Modified: 08/21/2007
Kurtis Hagen, e-mail: email@example.com