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Distinguished Lectures on Chinese Culture and Religion - Confucian Role Ethics: A Challenge to the Ideology of Individualism

by Prof. Roger T. Ames, Humanities Chair Professor, Peking University

Date                  8 September 2017
Time                 4:30pm-6:00pm
Venue               AG710
(The talk will be conducted in English.)

Abstract
In the introduction of Chinese philosophy and culture into the Western academy, we have tended to theorize and conceptualize this antique tradition by appeal to familiar categories. Confucian role ethics is an attempt to articulate a sui generis moral philosophy that allows this tradition to have its own voice. This holistic philosophy is grounded in the primacy of relationality, and is a challenge to a foundational liberal individualism that has defined persons as discrete, autonomous, rational, free, and often self-interested agents. Confucian role ethics begins from a relationally constituted conception of person, takes family roles and relations as the entry point for developing moral competence, invokes moral imagination and the growth in relations that it can inspire as the substance of human morality, and entails a human-centered, a-theistic religiousness that stands in sharp contrast to the Abrahamic religions.

Biography of Speaker
Roger T. Ames is Humanities Chair Professor at Peking University, a Berggruen Fellow, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i. He is former editor of Philosophy East & West and founding editor of China Review International. Ames has authored several interpretative studies of Chinese philosophy and culture: Thinking Through Confucius (1987), Anticipating China (1995), Thinking From the Han(1998), and Democracy of the Dead (1999) (all with D.L. Hall), and most recently Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary (2011). His publications also include translations of Chinese classics: Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare(1993); Sun Pin: The Art of Warfare (1996) (with D.C. Lau); the Confucian Analects (1998) and the Classic of Family Reverence: The Xiaojing (2009) (both with H. Rosemont), Focusing the Familiar: The Zhongyong (2001), and The Daodejing (with D.L. Hall) (2003). Almost all of his publications are now available in Chinese translation, including his philosophical translations of Chinese canonical texts. He has most recently been engaged in compiling the new Blackwell Sourcebook of Classical Chinese Philosophy, and in writing articles promoting a conversation between American pragmatism and Confucianism.

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