18th International Conference of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy (ISCP)
Chinese Philosophy and the Way of Living
July 21-24, 2013 State University of New York at Buffalo
UB Department of Philosoph; UB Samuel P. Capen Chair in Philosophy and Comparative Literature, UB; Buffalo State College Center for China Studies;
UB Confucius Institute, UB Humanities Institute, UB College of Arts and Sciences, UB Office of the Vice Provost for International Education, UB Department of Classics, UB Asian Studies Program.
The theme of the conference
One major characteristic of Chinese philosophical tradition is that it is not just a matter of theoretical pursuit, but is more a practical enterprise. Philosophy is thought to be a “Learning of Living” (生命的学问), and doing philosophy is to practice a way of life that one chooses and to cultivate and transform character. The central question of Chinese philosophy is “what is the Dao?” and dao (literally, road or way) is the way in which human beings should lead their lives. This conception of philosophy differs from the prevailing modern university conception of philosophy, according to which philosophy is mainly a theoretical discipline and philosophical reflection is peripheral to life.
The conception of philosophy is worth studying, keeping alive, and reviving as an alternative way of doing philosophy. It is similar to the idea that philosophy is the “art of living,” which was prominent in ancient Greek/Roman philosophy, especially in the spirit of Socrates. His motto that “the unexamined life is not worth living” clearly shows that what is examined is “life” rather than “knowledge” or “proposition.” The Jewish tradition is also characteristic of the idea that letter and spirit, idea and life, are inseparable. In the West this conception has been marginalized in modern times, but seems to have experienced a sort of renaissance.
The Buffalo conference is to explore in details and in depth Chinese conception of philosophy as a learning of living. It seeks not only to deepen our understanding of the nature of Chinese philosophy, but also, through a cross-cultural comparative approach, to enrich the conception of philosophy as a way of living and contribute its revival in contemporary philosophy.
Sub-themes of the conference include but are not limited to:
- Chinese philosophy as a learning of living
- Philosophical discourses and philosophical practicality
- Justifying a way of living: metaphysics, aesthetics, and rhetoric
- Practical wisdom
- Moral psychology
- Formation of self, character, and virtue
- Happiness, death and suicide
- Politics and the way of living
- Philosophical therapy and spiritual practice
- The Art of Living: Chinese and Greek
- The Art of living: Chinese and Jewish
- Methodology of comparative study
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