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Tang Chun-I Visiting Professorship Department Seminar: Daoism’s Unsettling of the Hierarchy within the Person

Please register by 5pm, 22 October 2021 to attend the departmental seminar.


I discuss a characteristic criticism of Confucians to be found in the Daoist texts, which is that the project of achieving virtue tends to degenerate into a striving for superiority over others that not only perverts the aim of self-cultivation but defeats the equally important aim of helping others to improve. I do not think that by itself this is a decisive criticism of the Confucians, but investigating the basis of that criticism will lead, I argue, to a useful critique of Confucian ideas of governance, both within the individual and in state and society. The Daoist criticism, I believe, makes legitimately forceful criticisms of Confucian moral hierarchies and enable us to have more flexible and inclusive ideas of what is valuable and appropriate. These criticisms apply both to Confucian hierarchies applied governance within the individual person and to the political and social realms. I discuss the Daoist ideas in relation to contemporary psychological science and to proposals for a less hierarchical way of governing in society.

Conducted in English
All are welcome