•  500
    Confucian moral thinking
    Philosophy East and West 45 (2): 249-272. 1995.
    By examining fundamental Confucian concepts -- zhengming, ren, li, xiao, shu and dao -- the essay demonstrates that Confucian ways of thinking do not always fit neatly into categories such as 'moral' or rights'. The author provides a positive interpretation of certain Confucian ideas including: the concept of a person as a self- in- relation; the notion of responsibility as particularistic and dependent upon the kinds of relationships one has and the social positions one occupies; and the view o…Read more
  •  302
    The daodejing: Resources for contemporary feminist thinking
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 27 (2). 2000.
    This paper explores the contribution of early Daoist thought to contemporary feminist philosophy. It has often been noted that the Daodejing stands in contrast to other texts of the same period in its positive evaluation of femininity and of values associated with the feminine. This paper takes a cautious approach to the Daoist concept of the feminine, noting in particular its emphasis on the characteristic of feminine submissiveness. On the other hand, the paper seeks to demonstrate that the Da…Read more
  •  293
    It is proposed here that the Confucian li, norms of appropriate behavior, be understood as part of the dynamic process of moral self-cultivation. Within this framework li are multidimensional, as they have different functions at different stages in the cultivation process. This novel interpretation refocuses the issue regarding the flexibility of li, a topic that is still being debated by scholars. The significance of this proposal is not restricted to a new understanding of li. Key features of …Read more
  •  163
    In the Lunyu, Confucius remarks on the implausibility—or impossibility—of a life lacking in xin 信, reliability (2.22). In existing discussions of Confucian philosophy, this aspect of life is often eclipsed by greater emphasis on Confucian values such as ren 仁 (benevolence), li 禮 (propriety) and yi 義 (rightness). My discussion addresses this imbalance by focusing on reliability, extending current debates in two ways. First, it proposes that the common translation of xin as denoting coherence betw…Read more
  •  145
    Ziran and wuwei in the daodejing : An ethical assessment
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (4): 325-337. 2007.
    In Daoist philosophy, the self is understood as an individual interdependent with others, and situated within a broader environment. Within this framework, the concept ziran is frequently understood in terms of naturalness or nature while wuwei is explained in terms of non-oppressive government. In many existing accounts, little is done to connect these two key Daoist concepts. Here, I suggest that wuwei and ziran are correlated, ethical, concepts. Together, they provide a unifying ethical frame…Read more
  •  139
    The Cicada Catcher: Learning for Life
    In Karyn L. Lai & Wai-wai Chiu (eds.), Skill and Mastery Philosophical Stories from the Zhuangzi, Rowman and Littlefield International. 2019.
    The cicada catcher focuses as much on technique as he does on outcomes. In response to Confucius’ question, he articulates in detail the learning he has undertaken to develop techniques at each level of competence. This chapter explains the connection between the cicada catcher’s development of technique and his orientation toward outcomes. It uses details in this story to contribute to recent discussions in epistemology on the cultivation of technique.
  •  113
    An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy (2nd ed.)
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    This comprehensive introductory textbook to early Chinese philosophy covers a range of philosophical traditions which arose during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in China, including Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism. It considers concepts, themes and argumentative methods of early Chinese philosophy and follows the development of some ideas in subsequent periods, including the introduction of Buddhism into China. The book examines key issues and debates in early Chines…Read more
  •  110
    Emotional Attachment and Its Limits: Mengzi, Gaozi and the Guodian Discussions
    Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14 (1): 132-151. 2019.
    Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi's interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi's view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational …Read more
  •  102
    Understanding Confucian Ethics: Reflections on Moral Development
    Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 9 (2). 2007.
    The standard criticisms of Confucian ethics appear contradictory. On the one hand, Confucian ethics is deemed overly rule-bound: it is obsolete because it advocates adherence to ancient Chinese norms of proper conduct. On the other hand, Confucian ethics is perceived as situational ethics—done on the run—and not properly grounded in fundamental principles or norms. I give reasons for these disparate views of Confucian ethics. I also sketch an account of Confucian morality that focuses on moral d…Read more
  •  72
    Learning from the confucians: Learning from the past
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1): 97-119. 2008.
    A distinguishing characteristic of Confucianism is its emphasis on learning (xue), is a key element in moral self cultivation. This paper discusses why learning from the experiences of those in the past is important in Confucian learning.
  •  69
    Since the 1940s, Western epistemology has discussed Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how. Ryle argued that intelligent actions – manifestations of knowledge-how – are not constituted as intelligent by the guiding intervention of knowledge-that: knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that; we must understand knowledge-how in independent terms. Yet which independent terms are needed? In this chapter, we consider whether an understanding of intelligent action must i…Read more
  •  68
    Kam-por Yu, Julia Tao, and Philip J. Ivanhoe (eds.), Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously: Contemporary Theories and Applications Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-6 DOI 10.1007/s11712-011-9253-y Authors Karyn Lai, School of History of Philosophy, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009
  •  64
    For a while now, there has been much conceptual discussion about the respective natures of knowledge-that and knowledge-how, along with the intellectualist idea that knowledge-how is really a kind of knowledge-that. Gilbert Ryle put in place most of the terms that have so far been distinctive of that debate, when he argued for knowledge-how's conceptual distinctness from knowledge-that. But maybe those terms should be supplemented, expanding the debate. In that spirit, the conceptual option of p…Read more
  •  60
    Discussions of human partiality—anthropocentrism—in the literature in environmental ethics have sought to locate reasons for unnecessary and thoughtless degradation of the earth’s environment. Many of the debates have focused on metaethical issues, attempting to set out the values appropriate for an environmental ethic not constrained within an anthropocentric framework. In this essay, I propose that the fundamental problem with anthropocentrism arises when it is assumed that that is the only me…Read more
  •  52
    The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics eds. by Lorraine Besser-Jones and Michael Slote (review)
    Philosophy East and West 68 (2): 639-645. 2018.
    The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics, edited by Lorraine Besser-Jones and Michael Slote, is unusual among the recent crop of handbooks, encyclopedias, and compendiums in philosophy in a couple of respects. First, as well as presenting up-to-date surveys of the field, the Companion includes a number of entries that also engage in argument and negotiate tensions between different positions—some even questioning the nature of virtue ethics itself. These chapters are particularly interesting as …Read more
  •  50
    Global Thinking
    The Philosophers' Magazine 80 64-69. 2018.
  •  44
    Ren: An Exemplary Life
    In Amy Olberding (ed.), Dao Companion to the Analects, Springer. pp. 83-94. 2014.
    This chapter discusses ren 仁, a major term in the Confucian Analects. It analyzes the range of meanings of ren across different conversations, paying special attention to its associations with other key Confucian terms such as li (禮 behavioural propriety) and zhi (知 understanding). Building on this analysis, the discussion focuses on ren in terms of how it is manifest in a person’s life. In particular, it expresses ren in terms of an exemplary life—a life lived well. The chapter also dwells brie…Read more
  •  37
    Philosophy and philosophical reasoning in the zhuangzi: Dealing with plurality
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33 (3): 365-374. 2006.
    The Zhuangzi is noted for its advocacy of many different perspectives—chickens, cicadas, fish and the like. There is much debate in the literature about the implications of Zhuangzi’s pluralist inclinations. I suggest that Zhuangzi highlights the limitations of individual, perspectivally-constrained, knowledge claims. He also spurns the ‘view from nowhere’ and is sceptical about the possibility of an ideal observer. For him, wisdom consists in understanding the epistemological inadequacies of ea…Read more
  •  30
    Many scholars note that the Analects, and Confucian philosophy more generally, hold a conception of knowing that more closely approximates ‘knowing-how’ than ‘knowing-that’. However, I argue that this description is not sufficiently sensitive to the concerns of the early Confucians and their focus on self-cultivation. I propose that a particular conception of knowing—knowing to act in the moment—is better suited to capturing the Analects’ emphasis on exemplary lives in actual contexts. These inv…Read more
  •  22
    Critical notice of Joel J. Kupperman, learning from asian philosophy
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1). 2003.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  16
    Both Ancient Chinese and Greek philosophers provide accounts of the life lived well: a Confucian junzi, a Daoist sage and a Greek phronimos. Cultivation in Early China and Ancient Greece engages in comparative, cross-tradition scholarship and investigates the processes associated with cultivating or nurturing the self in order to live such lives. By focusing on the processes rather than the aims of cultivating a good life, an international team of scholars investigate how a person develops and …Read more