In content, but especially in form, Werner Stegmaier’s philosophy of orientation is distinct from many of the more popular trends in contemporary academia. Philosophizing about orientation means reflecting on a most fundamental question: how are we oriented? A question that is important for philosophy, but also for our everyday lives. We are, however, always already oriented, and our orientation is decisively influenced by others around us, historical conditions, and by our own perspectives on the world.
Early Chinese philosophy addresses similar issues, and in various ways has overlapping concerns. Dao 道, or “way,” is a foundational concern of early Chinese thinkers—it functions in a way similar to “truth” in many Western thinkers. With dao as a starting point, Chinese philosophers ask less questions about “what” and focus more on “how.” Issues related to orientation and footholds, are of central concern. The Analects of Confucius, for example, says “humans broaden the dao, the dao does not broaden humans,” and the Daoist Zhuangzi similarly says that “the dao is made by walking.”
In this seminar we will introduce some of the most influential texts in Chinese thought, namely the Analects of Confucius, the Laozi (Tao-Te-Ching), and the Zhuangzi. We will highlight similarities between the philosophical reflections in these texts and Stegmaier’s philosophy of orientation. Additionally, we will pay special attention to some differences between Stegmaier, Chinese philosophy, and contemporary academic philosophy.
The seminar is discussion-based, so participants are expected to read short texts before the meetings. The seminar is free. Please apply by May 17, 2023, via the application form below by briefly explaining 1.) your professional and/or academic background, 2.) your philosophical interests, and 3.) your motivation for joining the seminar.