Home > Uncategorized > Chris Fraser – Finding a Way Together: Interpersonal Ethics in the Zhuangzi

Chris Fraser – Finding a Way Together: Interpersonal Ethics in the Zhuangzi

The Department of Philosophy at Concordia University is pleased to present Chris Fraser on Friday, September 30, 2022, as part of the Concordia Philosophy Speaker Series.

Speaker: Chris Fraser (University of Toronto) holds the Richard Charles and Esther Yewpick Lee Chair in Chinese Thought and Culture, a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of East Asian Studies. His research specialization is classical Chinese philosophy, particularly how early Chinese theories of mind, knowledge, and language intersect with issues in contemporary epistemology, action theory, and ethics. He also works on the history of Chinese political thought, especially the development of the concept of standards or laws and the interplay between moral character and social institutions.


Time: Friday, September 30, 4 to 6 p.m. EST

Title: Finding a Way Together: Interpersonal Ethics in the Zhuangzi

Location: 4TH SPACE, J.W. McConnell Building, 1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Abstract: The various threads of discourse preserved in the Zhuāngzǐ (3rd century BC) present a radical challenge to prevailing ways of thinking about ethics, whether in the texts’ own day or our own. The dominant stance in the Zhuāngzǐ is to reject orthodox moral norms or values on the grounds that they are ineffective guides to dào 道 (the way). In their place, Zhuangist writings focus directly on the concepts of dào and dé 德 (power, agency), along with interrelated conceptions of the well-lived life.

In this lecture, Chris Fraser will inquire into how this approach shapes the attitudes and conduct of the Zhuangist adept toward other persons. He will suggest that on a broadly Zhuangist understanding, interpersonal ethics is simply a special case of competence in applying dé (power, agency) and following dào (ways). The general ideal of exemplary activity is to employ our dé to find a fitting, free-flowing dào by which to navigate through contingent, changing circumstances. 

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