This paper is on the topic of deliberative autonomy in (primarily) post-classical Chinese moral epistemology. By “deliberative autonomy,” I mean the epistemic state or achievement in which one’s ethical views or beliefs are those that seem right to oneself and are based on reasons or considerations that one understands for oneself. This is to be contrasted with holding a view or belief based primarily on the authority or expertise of others, without seeing for oneself that the view is correct or why it is correct. The Chinese philosophical tradition is rich in discussion of the nature, value, and function of deliberative autonomy, having much to say both in its defense and against it. I will focus my discussion by looking more closely at what Neo-Confucians have said about a particular term of art, zide 自得 (“getting it oneself”). I translate and discuss some passages on “getting it oneself” in the works and recorded lessons of influential Song, Ming, and Qing Confucians, note different types of deliberative autonomy implied by these passages, and discuss Wm. Theodore de Bary’s famous explication of “getting it oneself.” I consider whether the premium these Confucians placed on zide has the implications for liberal education that de Bary proposes and describe how proponents of zide could respond to formidable and important Xunzian arguments for deference to traditions and expertise.
With responses from: KATJA VOGT (Columbia 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.
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