Chinese Philosophy Series: Bryan Van Norden (Vassar College)


Friday, December 2, 2022, 2:00pm to 4:00pm


Emerson Hall, Room 305

Photo of Bryan W. Van NordenProfessor Bryan Van Norden

Neo-Confucian Debates over Weakness of Will

Friday, December 2


Emerson Hall, Room 305



The Confucian classic the Great Learning states that one must hate evil “like hating a hateful odor” and love the good “like loving a lovely sight.” In this presentation, Professor Van Norden unpacks the cognitive content of these metaphors and explains what role they played in Chinese debates over the relationship between moral knowledge and moral action.  In particular, Van Norden explains how the great “Neo-Confucian” philosophers Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming appealed to the same metaphors in their argument over whether weakness of will is possible.

About the Speaker

Bryan W. Van Norden is James Monroe Taylor Chair in Philosophy at Vassar College (USA), and Chair Professor in the School of Philosophy at Wuhan University (China). A recipient of Fulbright, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Mellon fellowships, Van Norden has been honored as one of The Best 300 Professors in the US by The Princeton Review. Van Norden is author, editor, or translator of ten books on Chinese and comparative philosophy, including Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (2011), Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto (2017), Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy: Han to the 20th Century (2014, with Justin Tiwald), Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2nd ed., 2005, with P.J. Ivanhoe), and most recently Classical Chinese for Everyone: A Guide for Absolute Beginners (2019). He has also published multiple featured op-eds in the New York Times, and written a Ted-Ed video on Confucius that has been viewed over a million times.  His books and articles have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Estonian, Farsi, German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.  His hobbies are poker (he has played in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas) and video games. His website, which includes a bibliography of primary and secondary sources on Chinese philosophy, may be found here.

Free and open to the public