PHILOSOPHY 790: SEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY—CONFUCIAN ROLE ETHICS
) X67288 Office hours: by appointment
Student Learning Objectives/Course Objectives
By the end of the course students should:
***have acquired a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the formative history of the Chinese philosophical narrative
***have learned how to do a close reading of a philosophical text
***have developed an ability to make sound cultural comparisons
***have improved their critical reasoning skills and developed the ability to formulate philosophical arguments
***have arrived at an understanding of how to write a publishable research paper
***have improved their research and writing skills
In this seminar we will attempt to evaluate the claim that classical Confucian offers a sui generis vision of the moral life that we might call “Confucian role ethics,” and that we might be able to distinguish in fundamental ways from other more familiar ethical theories.
Seminar sessions will be divided into two parts. The first section will be devoted to a close reading of Confucian texts, exploring the vocabulary of Confucian ethics. We will read selected materials from classical Confucianism—the Analects of Confucius__, the Great Learning¥Û_, and the Zhongyong ÷–”π(Focusing the Familiar). Some considerable attention will be paid to a concept of “role ethics” that Henry Rosemont and I have been developing in our new translation of the Chinese Classic of Family Reverence–¢_. We will attempt to construct a nuanced understanding of key notions that ground Confucian thinking about the moral life such as xiao –¢, ti „©, shu À°, zhong÷“, de µ¬£¨he∫Õ£¨and so on. We will also explore the idea of the relational person situated within familial roles that can be reconstructed from these texts. The function of moral imagination and moral artistry is central in Confucian ethics, as is the role of feelings. We will try to clarify these claims from the canonical texts.
The second part of each meeting will be given over to reading literature that will help us clarify Confucian ethics. We will spend some time critiquing my own draft manuscript, Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary to understand the claim being made. At the same time, many of our best comparative philosophers argue that Confucianism is a version of the virtue ethics that we associate with Aristotle, and they have produced a literature supporting this position. We will read selections from these scholars critically, and evaluate their arguments carefully.
Cultural translation that entails making comparisons between and among traditions requires the entertainment of both contrastive and associative analogies. Perhaps the closest analogy with Confucian ethics is to be found in ethical writings of John Dewey. We will explore the background to John Dewey’s understanding of what he calls “individuality.” We will attempt to construct Dewey’s articulation of a radically situated notion of personal consummation by reading selections from his Human Nature and Conduct, Art as Experience, and Experience and Nature. We can expect to find important resonances and significant differences between Dewey and the Confucian project of personal transformation.
Students will be required to craft a research essay for this course with the aspiration of producing the first draft of an ultimately publishable paper—a paper that can potentially compete for the Uehiro Award for the Best Essay in Asian Philosophy. (The successful candidate for this award receives the funding necessary to represent our department and present the paper at the annual Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy conference at Asilomar, California June 14-17.) The last three sessions of the seminar will be given over to 30 minute oral presentations and discussions of student papers. Students will be evaluated on in-class summaries and presentations (25%) and the quality of the final draft of their papers (75%).
February 18th Thesis and Outline
March 18th First draft (at least 5 pages)
April 15th Second draft (at least 12 pages)
May 6st Final draft (approximately 20 pages)
John Dewey, Experience and Nature
John Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct
John Dewey, Art as Experience
R. Ames/D. Hall, Focusing the Familiar
R. Ames/H. Rosemont, The Analects of Confucius
H. Rosemont/R. Ames, The Chinese Classic of Family Reverence
R. Ames, Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary (handout)
All papers must be paginated, and while students may send in their papers as an attachment in order to meet the deadline, they must also turn in a hardcopy for grading. Quotations and sources are to be clearly referenced. Web sources consulted must be noted. Standard writing conventions must be observed. For example, book titles and foreign words must be italicized. Learn how to avoid sexist language. For bibliography and footnotes, use The Analects of Confucius as your model stylesheet.
Plagiarism includes but is not limited to submitting, in fulfillment of an academic requirement, any work that has been copied in whole or in part from another individual’s work without attributing that borrowed portion to the original author; neglecting to identify as a quotation another’s idea and particular phrasing that was not assimilated into the student’s language and style or paraphrasing a passage so that the reader is misled as to the source; submitting the same written or oral or artistic material in more than one course without obtaining authorization from the instructors involved. (The University of Hawai’i Student Conduct Code)
Any student who plagiarizes in this course will receive a failing grade and will be referred to the Dean of Students.
If you feel you need reasonable accommodation because of the impact of a disability, please 1) contact the KOKUA Program housed in Room 013 of QLCSS, 956-7511 or 956-7612; 2) speak with the instructor privately to discuss your specific needs. I will be glad to work with you and the KOKUA Program to meet your access needs related to your disability.