DAVID WONG (Duke University)
Formal responses by CHARLES GOODMAN (SUNY Binghampton)
"Metaphors for self-cultivation in the Analects, Mencius, and Xunzi: Adornment, craft, flowing water, and sprouts"
I point out the presence in these three canonical Confucian works of several metaphors for self-cultivation. The adornment and craft metaphors appear in the Analects in remarks made by Confucius as he and his students enact the process of self-cultivation, in concert and in dialogue with each other. The craft and adornment metaphors differ in their suggestion as to how much of the “right motivational stuff” we have to work with in starting to cultivate ourselves and how much of the “wrong stuff” we have to contend with. Mengzi, with his flowing water and sprout metaphors, and Xunzi with his craft metaphor, theorize about self-cultivation in ways that develop different conceptions of the “right stuff” to be found in the Analects. In the end, I suggest that both their theories capture parts of a more complex process of moral development: we begin with some right stuff and some wrong stuff as well. We adorn the right stuff, let it flow in its natural direction; and “grow” it through careful attention. We must restrain and reshape the wrong stuff that we have. Our progress in one of these processes can support progress in the other process.
Friday - February 24th, 2012
Rm. 101 in the Department of Religion 80 Claremont Avenue