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 […]

Final Questions about Arendt’s “Auschwitz on Trial”

This is the final installment of frequent questions raised by my students when reading Hannah Arendt’s essay “Auschwitz on Trial,” my responses follow. For Questions 1–5; for Questions 6–10. Question 11: Is it possible that the defendants denied the truth because they didn’t want to accept the truth of the crimes they committed in Auschwitz? […]

Frequent Reactions to Arendt’s “Auschwitz on Trial”

Week 6, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Identify the arguments made by men on trial in Arendt’s essay “Auschwitz on Trial.” Evaluate these arguments. Here I will present some of the questions I’ve received from students who’ve read Hannah Arendt’s essay “Auschwitz on Trial.” I follow their questions (I’ve anonymized my interlocutors) with my own thoughts […]

Defining Reason

Week 4, Lecture 2 Learning Objectives Define reason Discuss the cultural context of the term “reason” In our previous lectures we’ve been discussing the methods used by science and religion to understand the world. The scientific method gathers its evidence through experimentation and uses this kind of evidence to refine hypotheses. These hypotheses are developed […]

Informal Fallacies

“Fallacies are unsound arguments that are often persuasive because they usually appeal to our emotions and prejudices and because they support conclusions that we want to believe.” (Chaffee, The Philosopher’s Way, 24) Let’s consider three species of fallacies: those of false generalization, causal fallacies, and fallacies of relevance. I.  Fallacies of False Generalization Previously I […]