From Philology to Philosophy: A Study in Confucian Moral Psychology

A Series of lectures by Distinguished Philosophy Visitor Professor Shun Kwong-loi, Chair Professor of Philosophy and Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Session 1: Methodological Reflections (AS3 0523, 4 Aug, 2-4 p.m.) (.pdf)

Session 2: A Confucian Theme (AS3 0523, 5 Aug, 2-4 p.m.)

Session 3: Purity, Moral Trials, and Equanimity (AS3 0523, 6 Aug, 2-4 p.m.) (.pdf)

Public Lecture: On Anger – A Confucian Perspective (AS7 0116/17/18, 10 Aug, 5-6.30 p.m.) (.pdf)

The series of four lectures present a certain methodological approach to the philosophical study of Chinese thought, illustrated by a number of Confucian ideas related to the Confucian understanding of propriety (yi 義). The first lecture presents the methodological approach, and distinguishes between three different though related goals in the study of Confucian ethical thought. The first seeks to approximate the ideas recorded in early texts through careful textual and historical analysis. The second aims at extracting the insights behind the texts that are of relevance to our own contemporary ethical experiences. The third attempts to build a systematic and reflective account on the basis of these insights that deepens our understanding of our own ethical life. The first task is primarily philological and focuses on the past, namely, on approximating the thinking of past Confucian thinkers. The third task is primarily philosophical and focuses on the present, namely, on building a reflective account of our ethical experiences that is of appeal to us nowadays. The second provides a transition from the philological to the philosophical, and involves our moving between the past and the present in an attempt to articulate the insights of past Confucian thinkers that are of present relevance.

The first lecture of the series lays out this methodological approach, while the other three lectures illustrate the three tasks just described, using a number of Confucian ideas related to the Confucian understanding of propriety as the guiding theme. The second lecture provides a discussion of these ideas, including yi 義, ming 命, cheng 誠, xu 虛 and si 私, and analyses the way these concepts are understood in early and later Confucian thought . The third lecture builds on the second by drawing out the philosophical implications of the ideas discussed in the second lecture, focusing on the phenomena purity, moral trials, and equanimity. The fourth lecture builds on the third by providing a more in-depth and primarily philosophical discussion of ideas highlighted in the third lecture, using the phenomenon of anger as a focus for the discussion. Together, the four lectures illustrate a way of integrating philological and philosophical methods in the study of Chinese thought.

Public Lecture, 10 August, 5 to 6.30 p.m., FASS Seminar Room , AS7-01-16/17/18

On Anger – A Confucian Perspective

The lecture discusses the phenomenon of anger as viewed from a Confucian perspective. After introducing the phenomenon of anger, it describes the Confucian view of disgrace and self-regard, and discusses the implication of this view for the Confucian perspective on anger. This perspective explains why the notions of resentment and forgiveness do not play a prominent role in Confucian thought, and also provides a sense in which the Confucian attitude is ‘detached’ in a way that leads to a sense of invulnerability and equanimity.

For more information, please contact Dr. Loy Hui Chieh ( To register for the public lecture, please contact Anjana (

The Philosophy Department welcomes three distinguished Chinese Philosophers

Professor Shun Kwong-loi, Chair Professor of Philosophy at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture, will be delivering a series of four lectures, “From Philology to Philosophy – A Study in Confucian Moral Psychology,” 4 to 10 August. The last lecture, “On Anger: A Confucian Perspective,” will be open to the public. Before joining CUHK, Professor Shun held key positions at the University of Toronto and the University of California at Berkeley. His scholarship is impressive both for its sinological expertise and its philosophical rigor. He contributed many entries to Encyclopedias on Chinese Philosophy (Oxford Companion to Philosophy), Confucius (Encyclopedia of Ethics), Mencius (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), Wang Yangming (Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy) and other related topics. He has published widely on Confucian ethics, most recently on “Studying Confucian and Comparative Ethics,” and “Wholeness in Confucian Thought: Zhu Xi on Cheng, Zhong, Xin, and Jing.” His book on Mencius and Early Chinese Thought has become a classic in Chinese Philosophy and an exemplar of philosophical interpretation of ancient Chinese texts.

Professor Chad Hansen, Chair Professor Emeritus, University of Hong Kong, is visiting the department in AY 2010/2011. He will be teaching Introduction to Comparative Philosophy (PH3218) and Topics in East Asian Philosophy (PH4205) in Semester I. In Semester II, he will be teaching Comparative Philosophy (PH4213) and a graduate module (PH6760: Philosophical Topics). Among Professor Hansen’s works, the most famous is A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought. Other monographs include Language and Logic in Ancient China and Laozi: The Tao Te Ching: on The Art of Harmony. He has published many articles and book chapters, recent ones include “The Normative Impact of Comparative Ethics: Human Rights” (Confucian Ethics : A Comparative Study of Self, Autonomy, and Community); “The Metaphysics of Dao” (Comparative Approaches to Chinese Philosophy); “Reading with Understanding: Interpretive Method in Chinese Philosophy” (Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy); “Prolegomena To Future Solutions To “White-Horse Not Horse”: Being Uncharitable To Gongsun Long” (Journal of Chinese Philosophy); “Washing the Dust from my Mirror: The Deconstruction of Buddhism” (Philosophy East and West).

Professor Lisa Raphals joins the department from AY2010/2011 and will be teaching Greek Philosophy: Aristotle (PH 3222) in Semester I, followed by Greek Thinkers (PH4209) and Early Chinese Philosophy I (PH2301) in Semester II. Well known for her nuanced study of both the ancient Greek and ancient Chinese traditions, Professor Raphals is author of Knowing Words: Wisdom and Cunning in the Classical Traditions of China and Greece and Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China. Her journal articles and book chapters include “Fate, Fortune, Chance and Luck in Chinese and Greek,” (Philosophy East and West); “Notes on Baoshan Medical Manuscript” (Studies on Recently-Discovered Chinese Manuscripts); “Craft Analogies in Chinese and Greek Argumentation (Literature, Religion and East-West Comparison); “Divination and Medicine in China and Greece” (East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine); “Daoism and Animals” (A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion and Ethics). Her current research focuses on a comparative study of key religious ideas such as fate and divination in China and ancient Greece.