Water and Daoism

The image of water is frequently invoked in Daoist texts. Water is of the greatest efficacy because it mirrors the world around it but does not impose onto the world its own values. Think of water filling a jug. Water embraces the emptiness, rapidly, and effectively demonstrates the shape of its container. In the classical [...]

Philosophical Realism and Xin 心

Week 9, lecture 2 Learning Objectives Discuss philosophical realism. Define xin 心. Realism, as we use the term in Philosophy, generally means that things, stuff, “the world out there” exist independently of whether or not we observe it. If what is real does exist independently of whether or not we observe it, then how do [...]

Paronomasia in the Mengzi

  Week 9, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Define dao 道 Discuss the role of paronomasia in the Ruist tradition (li 禮, li 利, li 里; ren 人, ren 仁, ren 訒) Dao 道 can be rendered as “path,” or “the way,” or “road,” but we should consider the metaphysical implications of the use of the definite [...]

Mohist Rejection of Ruist Fatalism

We've just reviewed the way in which Ruists (like Kongzi and Mengzi) understand the concept tianming 天命 and how this supports their understanding of moral actions. Here we will consider the ways in which Mozi rejects the Ruist project and insists on a consequentialist lens for deciding moral actions. Previously we pointed out that Kongzi looked [...]

Ruist and Mohist Interpretations of Tianming 天命

Week 8, Lecture 2 Learning Objectives Define utilitarian ethics. Discuss consequentialism and fatalism found in Mohist and Ruist philosophies. Utilitarianism: the right action is that which produces the overall greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. Happiness is understood to be the same thing as pleasure. The overall pursuit is to structure society in [...]

Kongzi’s “Golden Rule”

Harmony is the chief accomplishment of human activities in the Analects. We look to 2.14 and 15.22 for discussion of the culinary nature of the term rendered commonly as “harmony” (he 和). Rosemont, Jr. and Ames state, that “harmony is the art of combining and blending two or more foodstuffs so that they come together [...]

Two Kinds of Harmony

Week 8, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Discuss differences between harmonia (αρμονία) and he (和) Explain Kongzi’s “golden rule” Harmonia, from which we derive our word “harmony” is another critical term for the ancient Greeks. In our current usage, harmony indicates a state of being well-blended, a mode of unity in which each element is properly-apportioned in [...]