Warp, Weft, and Way

A Group Blog of Chinese and Comparative Philosophy

Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy lecture this Friday (02/15) @5:30pm

THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY

Welcomes JONATHAN C. GOLD (Princeton University)

With responses from Robert Wright, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and and prize-winning author of such books as The Evolution of God, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, The Moral Animal, and Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information.

Please join us at Columbia University Department of Religion on February 15, 2013 at 5:30 for his lecture entitled,

Accepting the Conditions: The Ethical Implications of Vasubandhu’s Buddhist Causal Theory

ABSTRACT:
This paper presents a view that I call “Buddhist Causal Framing,” which is characterized by the following four doctrines: (1) the reality and significance of entities or events are indexed to their roles in causal series; (2) causality itself is a relativistic mode of explanation, since it is only known via framing structures that reflect the interests and capacities of the knower; (3) entities judged “substantial” by causal criteria are thus ultimately subjective constructions; and yet (4) entities judged “substantial” by causal criteria are not entirely unreal, for, in a properly formulated causal explanation, the subjective frame allows one to test for objective patterns of dependence. Buddhist Causal Framing is an abstracted and formalized version of the philosophical position advocated in works attributed to the great 4th/5th century Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu, and the paper locates this view within Vasubandhu’s Abhidharma arguments and the Yog?c?ra doctrine of The Three Natures. The main focus of the presentation, however, is on the philosophical significance of Buddhist Causal Framing itself.

The paper argues that Vasubandhu’s view, which is fundamentally bound to the interpretation of scripture, resembles the view of James Woodward, a modern philosopher who theorizes causal explanation on the structure of a scientific experiment. This similarity, it is argued, accounts for certain oft-noted resonances between Buddhism and a modern scientific worldview. An ethical consideration of the relativity of frames helps to explain the well-known Buddhist discomfort with moral absolutes and justice-talk. It is argued that the requirement that substantial significance be granted only to events with causal consequences within subjective frames amounts to a Buddhist moral ground for the social sciences. Such a view would in principle counter (disprove) dogmatic and ideological positions that are inconsistent with their own historical/conceptual-constructedness (such as nationalisms and essential rights). It would also seek to “right” moral wrongs through carefully uncovering, explaining, and intervening in their causes and conditions, rather than seeking retributive punishment.

5:30-7:30 pm
Rm. 101 in the Department of Religion 80 Claremont Avenue
http://goo.gl/maps/zfUKH

PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE:
http://www.cbs.columbia.edu/cscp/

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February 12, 2013 Posted by | Comparative philosophy, Lecture | Leave a comment

New website for the ISCWP

Hi everyone,

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wanted to announce a new website for the International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy:

www.iscwp.org

Check it out.  If you’re not yet a member, click her to find out more on how to join the society, or click here to read more about our recent conferences and activities.

Oh–and if you already have a link to the our old website on another site or blog, we’d appreciate it if you could update your links.

Hagop

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Chinese philosophy, ISCWP, Profession | Leave a comment

ISCWP Newsletter Volume 10, Issue 1

Greetings!  Many of you will have recently received the latest ISCWP Newsletter.  For those who are not on the ISCWP membership list, you can find out about the the society’s activities and events by following the link above and looking through recent newsletters, which are all available there.

If any readers are not members of the ISCWP and would like to join, please send me a statement including the following contents: your name, academic affiliation (if applicable), research/interest areas, contact information, and your desire to become a member of the ISCWP.

Hagop Sarkissian
Secretary and Treasurer
ISCWP

February 2, 2012 Posted by | Chinese philosophy | Leave a comment

ISCWP Newsletter 9.2

Greetings!  Many of you will have recently received the latest ISCWP Newsletter.  For those who are not on the ISCWP membership list, you can find out about the the society’s activities and events by following the link above.

If any readers are not members of the ISCWP and would like to join, please send me a statement including the following contents: your name, academic affiliation (if applicable), research/interest areas, contact information, and your desire to become a member of the ISCWP.

Hagop Sarkissian
Secretary and Treasurer
ISCWP

September 1, 2011 Posted by | ISCWP | Leave a comment

I am virtuous, and I hate you.

Actually, both parts of that conjunction are false: I am far from virtuous, and I probably don’t hate you.  (Really I don’t.)  But say I were virtuous: what would be the problem with me hating some people?  Would feeling hatred toward some individuals detract from my overall moral standing?  And forget about poor old un-virtuous me.  What about someone who, by all accounts, really was virtuous–Confucius.  Would it detract from his moral standing if he hated some people?

Continue reading

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, Confucius | 62 Comments

Translate This!

I’m sure many of us have this practice: You see a new translation of a text that is near and dear to you, and the first thing you do is pick it up and flip to those handful of passages that you think are crucial in understanding the text to see how the translator has parsed them.  (I can’t be the only one, right?)

One such passage (for me, anyway) is 1.12 in the Analects.  Here it is:

有子曰:「禮之用,和為貴。先王之道,斯為美;小大由之。有所不行,知和而和,不以禮節之,亦不可行也。」

Here are two ways of understanding the first part of this passage. Continue reading

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Confucianism | 26 Comments

Teaching Yang Zhu

In my Classical Chinese Philosophy class I like to include some discussion of why Yang Zhu was seen as such a powerful adversary for Mengzi and the Confucians, but given the paucity of texts the task is not an easy one. Continue reading

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Daoism, Pedagogy | 26 Comments