Oct
11
Fri
The Role of Negative Emotions in the Good Life: Reflections from the Zhuangzi. Richard Kim @ Columbia University Religion Dept. 101
Oct 11 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

The philosophical and psychological literature on well-being tend to focus on the prudential value of positive emotions such as pleasure, joy, or gratitude. But how do the negative emotions such as grief fit into our understanding of well-being? It is often assumed that negative emotions are intrinsically bad far us and that we should work toward eliminating them, especially from the perspective of our own well-being.

In this presentation I want to question this assumption by drawing on the ideas of Zhuangzi (a prominent early Daoist thinker from the 4th Century BCE) to argue that negative emotions are not intrinsically bad for us, and that their prudential value or disvalue is context dependent. Zhuangzi’s outlook, with his focus on the flexibility of perspectives and living according to our natural, spontaneous inclinations, gives us reason to reconsider the role of negative emotions in our lives and how we might think about them in a more constructive way.

With responses from: CHRISTOPHER GOWANS  (Fordham University)

The Fall dates for the Comparative Philosophy seminar:

September 20 – Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University)
October 11 – Richard Kim (Loyola University, Chicago
November 8 – Sungmoon Kim (City University of Hong Kong)
December 6 – Paul R. Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)

More details (such as titles, abstracts, and respondents) to follow. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Hagop Sarkissian
Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy, The City University of New York, Baruch College
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center 
Co-Director, Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy

https://www.cbs.columbia.edu/cscp/

Nov
8
Fri
Buddhism and Politics in Korea @ International Affairs Building, Room 918
Nov 8 @ 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Abstracts:

“Giving as Spending and Spending as Giving: Buddhism and the Politics of Spending during the Chosŏn Dynasty”
Juhn Ahn, University of Michigan

The impact of the Koryŏ-Chosŏn transition on the Buddhist establishment in Korea is generally understood in current scholarship to have been a negative one. It is all too often assumed that Buddhist monasteries, who enjoyed great economic prosperity under Koryŏ’s culture of giving, were forced to undergo a radical reduction in size and number and their wealth confiscated to replenish the empty royal fisc. There is also a tendency to assume that this systematic restructuring of the Buddhist establishment, often dubbed its “decline,” was orchestrated and executed by a small group of reform-minded Neo-Confucian scholar-officials who saw Buddhism as an economic parasite and cause of unnecessary spending. It is true that the Buddhist establishment never again enjoyed the kind of wealth that it once did during the Koryŏ, but this paper argues that we should not take this as a sign of decline or the necessary outcome of state suppression. Instead, this paper will turn its attention to the politics of spending that continued to shape and reshape the Chosŏn court and show that the politics of spending provided the Buddhist establishment with an opportunity—an opportunity that it did in fact use—to redefine the conditions of its existence.

“Court Lady Ch’ŏn Ilch’ŏng (1848 – 1934) in the Making of Modern Korean Buddhism”
Hwansoo Kim, Yale University

In this talk, I will introduce the work of a forgotten Korean Buddhist laywoman who served as one of the highest-ranking ladies in the court of the late Chosŏn dynasty. I will demonstrate that Court Lady Ch’ŏn (1848 – 1934) was as integral to modernizing Korean Buddhism during the pre-colonial and colonial era as the Korean Buddhist monastics with whom she worked. By examining Ch’ŏn’s seminal role in the incipient stage of modern Korean Buddhism, the history of female Buddhist leadership can be extended.

Ch’ŏn primarily worked with the Korean monk and leader Yi Hoegwang (1862-1933), drawing on a wide network of relationships both inside and outside the court to help him establish the first modern institution of Korean Buddhism, build the first modern temple in central Seoul, and open a Buddhist clinic. However, because Yi was later condemned by historiography as the worst of Buddhists who had collaborated with Korea’s colonizer, Ch’ŏn’s leadership and legacy were likewise stigmatized and sidelined. This talk seeks to restore Ch’ŏn’s centrality as a Buddhist modernizer, thereby giving balance to a largely male-centered and ethno-centric history and lengthening the lineage of lay female leadership in the transformation of Korean Buddhism in the early twentieth century.

“Buddhism and State Violence in Modern Korea”
Jin Y. Park, American University

Historically, Korean Buddhism has been known as “State Protection Buddhism” (護國佛敎). The seemingly positive character of this description also points to the limitations of Korean Buddhism’s role in the broader context of society. A state should exist to protect its members, but history has witnessed that the state can and did exercise its power against its members. Which members did the Korean government support, and which were sacrificed in the process? What role did Korean Buddhism play in the unfolding of that history?

This presentation deals with Buddhism’s response to state violence in modern Korea. Through an analysis of a specific instance of state violence and Korean Buddhism’s response, the presentation tries to gauge Korean Buddhism’s capacity to engage with the socio-political milieu of human existence.

Co-sponsored by
The Academy of Korean Studies, Seoul Korea; Weatherhead East Asian Institute; the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; The Department of Religion;  The Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religion

Dec
6
Fri
The Immortal Spirit in Classical Chinese Aesthetics. Paul Goldin (UPenn) @ Columbia University Religion Dept. 101
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

This will be the third (and, time permitting, some material from the fourth) of a series of lectures that I aim to write up formally as a book.  We will begin with a brief review of the most familiar theory of Chinese aesthetics: works of art are the products of sensitive human beings who cannot suppress their sincere responses to emotional stimuli.  If art is understood as a sincere statement of this kind by a great genius, it stands to reason that, by correctly interpreting the work, one can communicate with that genius’s mind (xin 心) even after his or her death–and, likewise, that an artist today can communicate with audiences yet unborn.  Art is thus timeless and offers the possibility of incorporeal immortality.  If there is extra time, I will also survey two interrelated phenomena that I call meta-criticism and meta-writing (since there are no technical terms for them in Chinese).  Meta-criticism, i.e. criticism of criticism, is a major feature of Chinese theories about art.  Meta-criticism must be related to meta-writing, or the practice of writing about writing while exemplifying the very styles and techniques that one recommends: for example, artfully rhyming a couplet about rhyming.

With responses from: SANDRA SHAPSHAY (Hunter College, CUNY)


The Fall dates for the Comparative Philosophy seminar:

September 20 – Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University)
October 11 – Richard Kim (Loyola University, Chicago
November 8 – Sungmoon Kim (City University of Hong Kong)
December 6 – Paul R. Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)

More details (such as titles, abstracts, and respondents) to follow. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Hagop Sarkissian
Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy, The City University of New York, Baruch College
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center 
Co-Director, Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy

https://www.cbs.columbia.edu/cscp/