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Yearly Archives: 2016

Neglected Virtue (4) Mass Ignorance – “Should the People Know the ‘Terrible Truths’?” John Williams (National University of Singapore)


John Williams is a President’s Graduate Fellow at the National University of Singapore; he has articles on the Zhuangzi collection forthcoming in Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy (2017) and Philosophy East & West (2017).

Daoist Primitivism: A Counter-Intuitive Take on Human Dignity and Well-Being

One common trope throughout the otherwise heterogeneous Daoist corpus is the “reversal of opposites”: that is, turning a commonly held position on its head. For instance, people apparently don’t want to be ugly and rejected by society. The Zhuangzi‘s “Ren Jian Shi“《莊子•人間世》, however, demonstrates that an ugly reject—in this case, a discombobulated freak named Shu—can live out his natural years (zhongqitiannian 終其天年) because nobody bothers him: viz, the government gives him extra rations out of pity, he doesn’t have to serve in the military due to his deformities, and so on, among many other hidden benefits bestowed on this seeming loser.[1] Thus, what was first taken to be the case, the disappointment of being an ugly reject, has been reversed. (more…)

Neglected Virtue (3) Parental Involvement – “Do Your Parents Know Your Friends?” Nadia Ruiz (U of Kansas)


Nadia Ruiz is a PhD student at University of Kansas. Her research interests include philosophy of science and metaphysics.

Parental Involvement

I grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua—a border city next door to El Paso, Texas. All that divides the two cities are the Rio Bravo, a wall and an international bridge. You would think that eases my interactions with both American and Mexican cultures. However, the vast majority of the El Paso population is Mexican or first-generation Mexican-Americans. Hence, El Paso’s culture is very similar to the culture found in Mexico—an American city infused with Mexican culture. It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest that I saw the difference between Mexican and American cultures. (more…)

[CCP & GAI Joint Workshop] Non-Dualistic Logic in Nishida Kitarō’s “Logic and Life”

The Center for Comparative Philosophy & Global Asia Initiative Joint Reading Workshop

Non-Dualistic Logic in Nishida Kitarō’s “Logic and Life

Time: 12:00 – 14:00 Thursday Sept 22nd

Location: West Duke 204

Main SpeakerTakushi Odagiri (M.D. Tokyo, Ph.D. Stanford).
He is a postdoctoral research fellow for the Global Asia Initiative at Duke University and a visiting faculty member for the Asian & Middle Eastern Studies department.

** The Center for Comparative Philosophy will provide a light lunch for the workshop. The room will open from 12:00 for people to serve themselves and take a seat.




Neglected Virtue (2) The Disposition to Justice – “Does the Bodhisattva have it?” Kranti Saran (Ashoka University)


Kranti Saran is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ashoka University and a Research Associate at Harvard University.

The Bodhisattva and the Disposition to Justice

The 8th century Indian Buddhist monk Śāntideva’s classic Bodhicaryāvatāra depicts the individual of good psychological health: the bodhisattva. The bodhisattva is dedicated to working for the well-being of all sentient creatures. The mind of the bodhisattva is marked by six perfections or pāramitās: generosity, moral conduct, forbearance, effort, meditative absorption, and insight.

Conspicuously absent from Śāntideva’s list is something essential to a healthy mind: the disposition to justice. (more…)

Neglected Virtue (1) Filiality – “Why Not Be a Good Child?” Sungwoo Um (Duke University)


Sungwoo Um is a PhD Philosophy candidate and  Assistant Director of the Center for Comparative Philosophy at Duke University.

Why Not Be a Good Child? – Filiality as a Relational Virtue

Filiality (or filial piety; xiao; 孝) is the virtue that a good child has in relation to his or her parents, which consists of living in the way that expresses love, respect and support to them. It has been regarded as a central virtue in Confucian traditions. Confucius even says that filiality is “the root of virtue and all [ethical] teaching grows out of it”.[1] But it has been largely neglected especially in the Western culture, partly due to its alleged danger of undermining autonomy or independence of the children. If it really requires unreasonable things—such as absolute obedience to one’s parents—and thus unavoidably undermine other liberal virtues like autonomy or independence, negligence on this virtue may be well-deserved.

However, there can be many different conceptions on what it takes to be filial. (more…)

Our project “Environment and Well-Being: A Cross-Cultural Study” wins the GAI seed grant!

Great news! Our project “Environment and Well-Being: A Cross-Cultural Study”  wins the Global Asia Initiative seed grant! Congratulations for Owen, Jeff, and Wenqing for the great work.

Title: Environment and Well-Being: A Cross-Cultural Study

Co-Principal Investigators:

Owen Flanagan (James B. Duke University Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Co-Director, the Center of Comparative Philosophy, Duke University)

Jeffrey Nicolaisen (Candidate for Ph.D., Graduate Program in Religion, Duke University)

Wenqing Zhao (Post-doctoral Research Fellow and Associate Director, The Center for Comparative Philosophy, Duke University)


Abstract: (more…)

CFP: Science, Religion and Culture-Open Special Issue: Cross-cultural Studies in Well-Being


Special Issue Title: Cross-cultural Studies in Well-Being

Final Submission Deadline: September 1, 2017 (500 word proposals will be received until October 15, 2016)

Guest edited by: Prof. Owen Flanagan and Dr. Wenqing Zhao, The Center for Comparative Philosophy, Duke University, Durham, NC USA 27708


Call for a Blog Post

Call for short essays on new International Blog “Varieties of Well-Being”:

The Seasonal Question for Summer 2016 is: Is there a specific virtue that you see as not emphasized enough in your cultural tradition (either the tradition you grew up with or are living in right now) and yet you think is key to happiness and flourishing? Specific examples are welcomed.

Please send your essay, a picture, and a one-sentence biography to Dr. Wenqing Zhao (wenqing.zhao@duke.edu) as soon as possible but by 31 August 2016 at the latest.


David Wong’s paper wins 2015 Dao Annual Best Essay Award

Our own David Wong’s paper, Early Confucian Philosophy and Development of Compassion (Dao 14.2: 157-194) has won 2015 Dao Annual Best Essay Award


Our “Varieties of Well-Being” project wins St. Louis-Templeton Grant

Great news! Our CCP project “Varieties of Well-Being: A Cross-Cultural Study” that has just received funding from the St. Louis-Templeton Project. Congratulations on Owen and Wenqing for the great work!


Varieties of Well-Being: A Cross-Cultural Study