September 28

Monday, September 28, 2020
Plenary – Chapel

Xunzi on Ritual, Situationism, Transformation

Xunzi, the third great classical Confucian philosopher, is best-known for arguing that “human nature is bad.” In this class we’ll explore what he means by that, what he thinks we should do as a result, and how he justifies his solution. At the core of his answer is the idea of “ritual,” which today probably sounds very antiquated. We’ll examine the ways in which an emphasis on ritual meshes well with modern understandings of human psychology, and enables us to both temporarily control our desires, and permanently transform them over time.

  • Be able to see differences within Confucianism both about psychology and about how we should shape or cultivate ourselves
  • Further reflect on the ties among psychology, morality, and cultivation/therapy
  • Begin to face the question of whether ancient philosophies like Confucianism are unavoidably burdened by oppressive practices and assumptions

Before Class

  • Begin by watching the short video above
  • Next, please do the reading ⟹
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After Class

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