•  6
    Civility, Subordination, and Praxis
    Philosophy East and West 70 (4): 1120-1129. 2020.
    I am grateful to the reviewers who have so carefully and insightfully engaged with my work. Promoting civility at our present political moment is often nauseating. Even as I write this, I am acutely aware that by the time it reaches print, the world may well be worse in ways that would alter whatever arguments or reflections I can offer here. The struggle is one caught most directly in Olufemi Taiwo's response: the world we inhabit is not just riven by social and political conflicts, it is also …Read more
  •  16
    Civility and Disappointment
    The Philosophers' Magazine 87 61-68. 2019.
  •  18
    Amy Olberding on the Confucian role for etiquette in resisting injustice.
  •  11
    Philosophical Exclusion and Conversational Practices
    Philosophy East and West 67 (4): 1023-1038. 2017.
    Professional philosophy in the United States has recently enjoyed a revival of discussion regarding the inclusion of Asian philosophies in the discipline, a revival that includes popular press articles, journal articles, books, and blog discussions.1 Such discussions can prompt hope that change is afoot and the discipline may, at long last, become more genuinely inclusive. However, for those of us who have been in the profession long enough, it is likewise difficult to resist a certain cynicism.…Read more
  •  37
    Reply to Eric Schliesser
    Philosophy East and West 67 (4): 1044-1048. 2017.
    I am grateful to Eric Schliesser for his gracious response, and to Philosophy East and West and Roger Ames for hosting this discussion. The challenges currently facing the profession regarding exclusionary practices are many, and Schliesser's work at both NewAPPS and his newer blog, Digressions&Impressions, is sensitive both to how many and how complex these challenges are. Schliesser is correct that my discussion of the profession's conversational patterns is both a bit ungenerous and more than…Read more
  •  1
    The Stout Heart: Philosophical Strategies for Death and Grief
    Dissertation, University of Hawai'i. 2001.
    Philosophers of both ancient Rome and ancient China saw in the rather prosaic human struggles with fear of death and grief the need for coherent and rigorous philosophical responses. They likewise saw in these struggles potential opportunities for the finest displays of human character and flourishing. "The Stout Heart: Philosophical Strategies for Death and Grief" adopts a similar sensibility and investigates the work of three philosophers---Lucretius, Seneca, and Confucius---in particular. The…Read more
  •  274
    "The feel of not to feel it": Lucretius' remedy for death anxiety
    Philosophy and Literature 29 (1): 114-129. 2005.
    Do Lucretius’ vivid evocations of pain and suffering render impotent his therapy for fear of death? Lucretius’ readers have long noted the discord between his avowed aim to provide a rational foundation for cool detachment from death and his impassioned and acute attention to nature’s often cruel brutality. I argue that Lucretius does have a viable remedy for death anxiety but that this remedy significantly departs from Epicurus’ original counsel. Lucretius’ remedy confesses its origins in a …Read more
  •  126
    The early Confucians recognize that the exchanges and experiences of quotidian life profoundly shape moral attitudes, moral self-understanding, and our prospects for robust moral community. Confucian etiquette aims to provide a form of moral training that can render learners equal to the moral work of ordinary life, inculcating appropriate cognitive-emotional dispositions, as well as honing social perception and bodily expression. In both their astute attention to prosaic behavior and the techni…Read more
  •  309
    The Educative Function of Personal Style in the "Analects"
    Philosophy East and West 57 (3). 2007.
    One of the central pedagogical strategies employed in the "Analects" consists in the suggestion of models worthy of emulation. The text's most robust models, the dramatic personae of the text, emerge as colorful figures with distinctive personal styles of action and behavior. This is especially so in the case of Confucius himself. In this essay, two particularly notable features of Confucius' style are considered. The first, what is termed "everyday" style, consists in Confucius' unusual command…Read more
  •  29
    Seneca and the Self
    Ancient Philosophy 31 (2): 460-463. 2011.
  •  10
    Martha and the Masters: Virtuous Domestic Aesthetic Activity
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 15 (2): 257-271. 2016.
    In this essay, I draw Karen Stohr’s work on the moral-aesthetic elements of hospitality into conversation with classical Confucianism. While the early Confucians would not deny the other-regarding elements of hospitality Stohr emphasizes, they also notably highlight the ways exercises in taste and skillful aesthetic activity can work on and for the agent herself, providing a sensibility that can guard domestic aesthetic activity against problematic forms of self-sacrifice and alienated labor tha…Read more
  •  93
    Confucius' Complaints and the Analects' Account of the Good Life
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (4): 417-440. 2013.
    The Analects appears to offer two bodies of testimony regarding the felt, experiential qualities of leading a life of virtue. In its ostensible record of Confucius’ more abstract and reflective claims, the text appears to suggest that virtue has considerable power to afford joy and insulate from sorrow. In the text’s inclusion of Confucius’ less studied and apparently more spontaneous remarks, however, he appears sometimes to complain of the life he leads, to feel its sorrows, and to possess som…Read more
  •  60
    The 'Stout Heart'
    Ancient Philosophy 25 (1): 141-154. 2005.
    In his remedy for grief, Seneca rehearses familiar Stoic arguments regarding the need to reconcile oneself to Fortune yet is not content with the efficacy of these strategies. Seneca’s hortatory rhetoric and the models he recommends for appropriation emphasize not the exercise of reason but the need for courageous self-command as a fitting strategy for the repudiation of sorrow. In a departure from Stoic orthodoxy, Seneca concedes that loss constitutes an injury and locates well-being in a vul…Read more
  •  17
    A special issue on the state of the field in Chinese philosophy, including work by: Stephen Angle, Roger Ames, Bryan Van Norden, Justin Tiwald, Manyul Im, David Wong, Hugh Benson, Leslie Francis, and Amy Olberding
  •  31
    From Corpses to Courtesy: Xunzi’s Defense of Etiquette
    Journal of Value Inquiry 49 (1-2): 145-159. 2015.
    Etiquette writer Judith Martin is frequently faced with “etiquette skeptics,” interlocutors who protest not simply that this or that rule of etiquette is problematic but complain that etiquette itself, qua a system of conventional norms for human conduct and communication, is objectionable. While etiquette skeptics come in a variety of forms, one of the most frequent skeptical complaints is that etiquette is artificial.The worries Martin canvasses are frequently also raised in more philosophical…Read more
  •  467
    In this essay, I consider the philosophical purposes served by Seneca’s insistently violent imagery and argue that Seneca appears to provide what I term an “erotica of death.” In the Roman context, a context in which violence and violent death are regular features of popular entertainment, there is a worry that Seneca’s vivid depictions of violent death can only aim at eliciting more of the intoxicating pleasure Romans derived from their spectacles. However, where the spectacle features as a s…Read more
  •  44
    Subclinical Bias, Manners, and Moral Harm
    Hypatia 29 (2): 287-302. 2014.
    Mundane and often subtle forms of bias generate harms that can be fruitfully understood as akin to the harms evident in rudeness. Although subclinical expressions of bias are not mere rudeness, like rudeness they often manifest through the breach of mannerly norms for social cooperation and collaboration. At a basic level, the perceived harm of mundane forms of bias often has much to do with feeling oneself unjustly or arbitrarily cut out of a group, a group that cooperates and collaborates but …Read more
  •  36
    In this study, Olberding proposes a new theoretical model for reading the _Analects_. Her thesis is that the moral sensibility of the text derives from an effort to conceptually capture and articulate the features seen in exemplars, exemplars that are identified and admired pre-theoretically and thus prior to any conceptual criteria for virtue. Put simply, Olberding proposes an "origins myth" in which Confucius, already and prior to his philosophizing knows _whom _he judges to be virtuous. The w…Read more
  •  20
    Dao Companion to the Analects (edited book)
    Springer. 2014.
    Chapter 2 History and Formation of the Analects Tae Hyun Kim and Mark Csikszentmihalyi It is possible, of course, to pick up and read the Analects without concern for its pedigree, historical significance, or authorship.1 Pithy and sometimes ...
  •  22
    Regret and Moral Maturity: A Response to Michael Ing and Manyul Im
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (4): 579-587. 2015.
    This essay elaborates on my essay, “Confucius’ Complaints and the Analects’ Account of the Good Life,” responding to issues and criticisms raised by Michael Ing and Manyul Im. Ing’s and Im’s critiques most invite reflection on regret, both as it might situate in Confucius’ own life and as it could feature more broadly in developed moral maturity. I consider two modes of regret: regret concerning compromises of conscience and end-of-life regret. The latter can naturally include elements of the…Read more
  •  43
    My purpose in this essay is to suggest, via case study, that if Anglo-American philosophy is to become more inclusive of non-western traditions, the discipline requires far greater efforts at self-scrutiny. I begin with the premise that Confucian ethical treatments of manners afford unique and distinctive arguments from which moral philosophy might profit, then seek to show why receptivity to these arguments will be low. I examine how ordinary good manners have largely fallen out of philosophica…Read more
  •  79
    A Sensible Confucian Perspective on Abortion
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (2): 235-253. 2015.
    Confucian resources for moral discourse and public policy concerning abortion have potential to broaden the prevailing forms of debate in Western societies. However, what form a Confucian contribution might take is itself debatable. This essay provides a critique of Philip J. Ivanhoe’s recent proposal for a Confucian account of abortion. I contend that Ivanhoe’s approach is neither particularly Confucian, nor viable as effective and humane public policy. Affirmatively, I argue that a Confucian a…Read more
  •  582
    The consummation of sorrow: An analysis of confucius' grief for Yan Hui
    Philosophy East and West 54 (3): 279-301. 2004.
    : Throughout the Analects, Confucius describes the capacity for grief as an ethically valuable trait. Here his own display of grief at the premature death of his beloved student Yan Hui is investigated as a model of the meaning and significance of grief in a flourishing life. This display, it is argued, provides a valuable portrait, in situ, of the specific species of grief that Confucius sanctions and encourages. It likewise makes clear the role played by vulnerability to injury in the articula…Read more
  •  16
  •  65
    Dreaming of the Duke of Zhou: Exemplarism and the analects
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (4): 625-639. 2008.
    Exemplars clearly play a significant role in the ethical vision of the Analects. However, while they are often treated as illustrations of the text’s more abstract ethical commitments, I argue that they are better understood to source those commitments. Such is to say that the conceptual schemata of the Analects – its account of human flourishing, the specific virtues it recommends, and its suggested path for self cultivation – originate in the people the text so vividly describes, in the unme…Read more
  •  142
    Sorrow and the Sage: Grief in the zhuangzi
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (4): 339-359. 2007.
    The Zhuangzi offers two apparently incompatible models of bereavement. Zhuangzi sometimes suggests that the sage will greet loss with unfractured equanimity and even aplomb. However, upon the death of his own wife, Zhuangzi evinces a sorrow that, albeit brief, fits ill with this suggestion. In this essay, I contend that the grief that Zhuangzi displays at his wife’s death better honors wider values averred elsewhere in the text and, more generally, that a sage who retains a capacity for sorrow…Read more
  •  56
    Self-presentation is a complex phenomenon through which individuals present themselves in performance of social roles. The success of such performances rests not just on how well a performer fulfills expectations regarding the role she would play, but on whether observers find her convincing. I focus on how self-presentation entails making use of material environment and objects: One may “dress for the part” and employ props that suit a desired role. However, regardless of dress or props, one ca…Read more
  •  15
    The moral vision of the "Analects" notably includes among our moral responsibilities the need to style behavior such that the propriety of one's dispositions is evident in one's manner and demeanor. While the sage effortlessly fulfills this responsibility, the moral learner must actively strive to shape her demeanor and manner. This essay considers her resources for doing so where becoming effortlessly sagely is a distant, if not unreachable, possibility. While the "Analects" clearly proffers th…Read more