SPECIAL ISSUE: NINTH EAST-WEST PHILOSOPHERS’ CONFERENCE
Guest Editor: Jay Garfield
Mahatma Gandhi on Violence and Peace Education
Douglas Allen, 290
Gandhi can serve as a valuable catalyst allowing us to rethink our philosophical positions on violence, nonviolence, and education. Especially insightful are Gandhi’s formulations of the multidimensionality of violence, including educational violence, and the violence of the status quo. His peace education offers many possibilities for dealing with short-term violence, but its greatest strength is its long-term preventative education and socialization. Key to Gandhi’s peace education are his ethical and ontological formulations of means-ends relations; the need to uncover root causes and causal determinants and to free oneself from entrapment in escalating cycles of violence; and the dynamic complex relation between relative and absolute truth that includes analysis of situated embodied consciousness, tolerant diversity and inclusiveness, and an approach to unavoidable violence.
A major controversy in the study of the Analects has been over the relation between two central concepts, ren (humanity, human excellence) and li (rites, rituals of propriety). Confucius seems to have said inconsistent things about this relation. Some passages appear to suggest that ren is more fundamental than li, while others seem to imply the contrary. It is therefore not surprising that there have been different interpretations and characterizations of this relation. Using the analogy of language grammar and mastery of a language, it is proposed here that we should understand li as a cultural grammar and ren as the mastery of a culture. In this account, society cultivates its members through li toward the goal of ren, and persons of ren manifest their human excellence through their practice of li.
Confucian wisdom is commonly assumed to consist in the Confucian value perspective as humanism in a naturalistic outlook. In fact, Confucius and Mencius sketched out a far more interesting notion of wisdom (zhi) as rooted in cognizance and flexibility and expressed in sensitive discernment and the ability to read and respond to complex, changing circumstances—to read (and respond to) the writing on the wall. Whereas the notions of tradition and the Way are thought to weigh heavily in the Confucian perspective, the deeper insight and innovative action of the “wise” can transform everything and recast tradition and the Way on a more adequate basis. In his commentaries and discourses on the Four Books, Zhu Xi grasped this notion of “wisdom” and explicated its connection to several related notions, including chung (hitting the mark), yi (appropriateness), quan (weighing, discretion), and chongyong (hitting the utmost propriety in the common situation). This inquiry reveals an innovative, critical spirit in classical Confucianism that has largely lain dormant since the rise and persistence of a bureaucratic, authoritarian China after the Qin-Han period.
The Moral Significance of the Music of the Black Atlantic
Albert Mosley, 345
It is argued here that part of the attraction of African music in the Atlantic Diaspora is its roots in an oral tradition in which agency is often more important than words. This makes it possible for the music to have a moral significance, not merely with respect to the verbal content of the words of songs but also with respect to the manner in which it is composed and performed. As such, a performance may be liberating, even when the words used in the performance are not. By reinforcing elements of the oral tradition in a culture based on notational literacy, the music of the Black Atlantic exemplifies an alternative to ideals embodied in a technological culture.
The Educative Function of Personal Style in the Analects
Amy Olberding, 357
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 of conventional norms in ordinary circumstances; the second, termed “deviant” style, consists in Confucius’ occasional and sometimes puzzling departures from conventional norms. The combined effect of these two aspects of Confucius’ personal style is shown to yield a productive pedagogical tension for the moral learner who would emulate, but cannot imitate, Confucius.
Chinese Thought from an Evolutionary Perspective, a review of A Chinese Ethics for the New Century: The Ch’ien Mu Lectures in History and Culture, and Other Essays on Science and Confucian Ethics, by Donald J. Munro
Edward Slingerland, 375
Taoism: The Enduring Tradition, by Russell Kirkland
Reviewed by Ronnie Littlejohn, 389
Going Forth: Visions of the Buddhist Vinaya, edited by William M. Bodiford
Reviewed by Mario Poceski, 392
Confucian Democracy: A Deweyan Reconstruction, by Sor-hoon Tan
Reviewed by Joseph Grange, 397
Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader, edited by Martin D. Yaffe
Reviewed by Patrick S. O’Donnell, 400
BOOKS RECEIVED, 406