teaching chinese philosophy

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Teaching Chinese philosophy. Andrew Lambert Western New England University a ndrew.lambert@wne.edu. Challenges to teaching Chinese phil. Lack of interest in Asian philosophy as an elective Varies by region and student demographic? What students (dont) know: Starting from zero? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Integrating Chinese philosophy into traditional philosophy class

Teaching Chinese philosophy

Andrew Lambert Western New England University andrew.lambert@wne.edu

Many ways of doing Chinese philosophyRead the text and ask for students (untutored) thoughts and responses:What does Analects 13.8 suggest to you?Read and compare multiple translationsThe difficulties of Daodejing ch. 1Provide cultural frameworks or frameworks of understanding to support students readingA Chinese worldview; know-that vs. know-howOffering a set of resources ideas and methods for teaching chinese philosophy2Role-play and imaginative reflection papers that transpose themes or characters to modern dayFigures with Zhuangzi-like knack or skill: eg, A barista like Butcher Ding Acting in a wu-wei fashion: eg, in a leadership role in a college societyFamily dilemmas and Confucian responses

Address a familiar problem, use Chinese texts to develop responses Partiality-Impartiality in moral theory; the Confucian appeal to interpersonal relationships.Cultural fusion: mastering and importing ideas to form a novel insight or perspective:Disability and DaoismMusic: Guzheng (zither) meets GunsnRoses:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO6sFdoklVUhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LALgWz0xc0

Challenges to teaching Chinese philLack of interest in Asian philosophy as an electiveVaries by region and student demographic?What students (dont) know: Starting from zero?Little prior exposure to ChinaNo prior exposure to philosophy?An advantage? Not looking for deductive arguments?

A method that responds to these challengesAn alternative approach:Use methods that philosophy students are familiar with:Careful reading and analysis, identifying/constructing and assessing arguments But apply them to unusual themes, themes important to Chinese philosophy

The Basic IdeaChinese thought deals with themes or topics less discussed in mainstream philosophy, and canonical texts. Thus, need to introduce these neglected themes to students By encouraging explicit reflection on these themes, students more deeply engage with the Chinese texts.

So, what are these themes? Examples: 1. Tradition The Analects emphasis on the role of history, sage kings, moral exemplars, the appeal of the Zhou dynasty

Make students think about tradition:

What is it? How important is it? What role does it play in determining a persons identity? How and when should tradition be reformed? Can we ever really escape tradition? Is the ideal of individual freedom from tradition just one particular form of tradition?What role does tradition play in contemporary liberal consumer democracy?

The Reading:Blend of:Philosophical analysis of tradition (non-China) Contemporary Chinese philosophers on traditionClassic text passages on tradition

Modern work on tradition as a philosophical (or intellectual) problem:Edward Shils (2006). Tradition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, ch. 1.Contemporary philosophers working on Chinese thought who address tradition:Sor Hoon Tan, in Confucius Now (D. Jones, ed)

Other suggestions? Gadamer?

Analects passages on tradition: (Bold passages=priority)Ancestors 1.9 Sacrifices to Ancestors: Observing the Fathers way 1.11, 4.20, 17.21. Sage Kings; Historical figures and exemplars.1.12 Harmony the way of the former kings7.15; 16.12, 18.8: Bo Yi and Shu Qi as revered figures of the past9.5. Confucius as representative of a culture Earlier Dynasties:8.18 -21 Yao, Shun and Yu as exemplary sage rulers. 3.14 Lover of the Zhou15.11 Creating a viable state using the traditions of earlier statesLearning. 2.15, 7.28: Learning about the past and selecting from itRole of Ancient texts in Confucius teaching. 1.15 Book of Songs, 3.8. 2.21. Book of Documents.17.9-10 Learning the Songs to express experiences Problems of tradition?Mencius 3B2. Gender distinctions womens way as marriage and obedience.Pragmatic attitude towards tradition:3.21 changing customs? 5.10: Allowing daughter to marry ex-convict against popular tradition.9.3 Flexibility on hemp campSome other themes2. RitualCommon student starting point: ritual as restrictive and boring

Aim: make students think of ritual in much richer ways Rethinking ritualFor example:Ritual can include habit your morning ritualWays of training people to interact with otherslearning to say hello in the morningShaping emotions and inclinations saying hello in the morning to people we dont care for Creating community by creating a shared event in which every participant can contribute something Going to a football match, a college open day

Readings for Ritual Texts:Canonical scholarly texts:Catherine Bell, Ritual Chinese material (secondary): Michael Ing The Dsyfunction of Ritual in Early Confucianism Herbert Fingarette The Secular as Sacred, ch. 1Contemporary snapshots of everyday ritualNew York Times: Ritual makes food taste better

Analects on li: 1.13 Ritual and deference; 2.3 shame; 3.4 Ritual and grief, 3.12 Attitudes in ritual, 3.18 Pedantry in ritual8.2 Ritual and virtues10.4 Bodily dimension of ritual12.1, Ritual as self-restraint 17.11 Ritual as more than ritual objects

Questions: What is ritual?What role does or should ritual play in contemporary life?What place or role does Fingarette ascribe to ritual in the Confucian vision? What are the attractions and limitations of his account? What role does Li (ritual) play in the AnalectsIs ritual the best translation for li ?

3. The family Contemporary works: Jane English What do grown children owe to their parents?Christina Hoff Sommers Filial MoralityBrenda Almond, The Fragmenting Family OUP

China-focused scholarship:Richard Madsen, Ethics and the Family: China/West (20 pages)Lin Yutang?? Classical texts on familyAnalects:Xiao (family reverence): 1.6, 2.6 Worrying parents, 2.21 Family relations as government Remonstrance (jian): 2.5 Acting contrary, 4.18-21Problems with the family: 13.18 SheepThe Xiaojing (The Classic of Family Reverence):Chapters 1 Parent-child relation, 2 Emperor and family, 8 Inclusiveness, 15 Remonstrance Xunzi, chapter 20

4. Guanxi - Networks of interpersonal relationships

Examining a modern social phenomenon to imagine a contemporary Confucian societyAlso: political philosophy debates over a modern Confucian polityAlso: the importance of face (mianzi)

Questions: How are the networks of personal connections prevalent in East Asian societies related to Confucian thought?In what ways are they ethical or unethical? Reading: Mayfair Yang Gifts, Favors and Banquets, Ch. 3Andrew Kipnis, On face5. Aesthetic Experience

Analects connects aesthetic experience with personal conductBut traditional aesthetics often limits aesthetic experience to the disinterested contemplation of certain objects (art)How can we better understand the aesthetic in the Confucian tradition? Solution: a debate in Anglo-American thought that seeks to describe an enlarged notion of the aesthetic

Reading: Sherri Irvin: The pervasiveness of the aesthetic in everyday experience British Journal of AestheticsZhongyong (Doctrine of the Mean): Sections 1, 2, 3, 15 25 (chengwu bringing events to fruition)Analects on harmony joy and delight: 1.1, 1.12, 6.20, 16.5, 11.26.Mencius on delight: 1A2, 1B1, 1B2, 1B4, 3A2, 7B36.

Limitations of this method?Students find analytical texts too difficult for an introductory course? Danger of failing to let the texts speak for themselves? Too much scaffolding?Less direct focus on ren yi etc.

But: only an introductory method or 100-level courseLater, wider reading in the Chinese corpus will result in students developing a fuller picture of relevant nuances and concepts, incl. ren, yi, etc.

Summary: Prospects Mirrors exciting cross-fertilisations in research: eg, Everyday aesthetics, the ethical status of cultivating social connections Philosophers working in areas relevant to articulating Chinese thought providing new ideas and concepts that make sense of the early textsAn appealing gateway to Chinese texts:Identifying issues or concepts in the texts relevant to students lives, with which they can identify (ritual, tradition, family, etc).