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The Comparative Philosophy Seminar seeks to advance constructive philosophical projects by bringing together scholars with training in diverse areas of Asian (mostly Buddhist) thought and Western Philosophy. Comparison in this context is not employed to loan authority to one set of obscure discoveries by revealing its resonances with the works of others, deemed less obscure. Nor does it sociologize philosophy in search of general laws of human cultural and intellectual development. Rather, the intent is to explicate, and employ, the fullness of an expanded philosophical toolset—and see how that works. The seminar ordinarily invites respondents who are versed in the relevant field of philosophical inquiry, but who are not necessarily specialists in Asian thought. In order to facilitate an ongoing conversation, seminar meetings for a given year are loosely organized around a very general theme, which speakers are asked to address when possible. In past years, the themes have been “Personal Identity” (2007–2008) and “Meta-Ethics” (2008–2009).

Professor Jonathan C. Gold

Professor Hagop Sarkissian

Lucilla Ines Martorana

All seminars will continue to meet virtually through February 2022. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.

Meeting Schedule

10/22/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
A Discussion of Fa (法) in the Shenzi
Eirik Lang Harris, Colorado State University
Speaker Link Abstract


The Shenzi Fragments, numbering a mere 3,000 or so characters in length, is all that remains of a work attributed to Shen Dao (ca. 350-275 BCE). While perhaps best known for his appearance in the Han Feizi as an advocate for positional power (勢 shi), he also makes an appearance in the Xunzi as one who is blinded by his focus on 法 fa (models, standards, laws). We will examine the fragments that discuss fa in an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of the role that these fragments see for the fa, how they are to be determined, and why Shen Dao took them to be central to a strong, stable, and flourishing state.

Discussant: Alejandro Bárcenas, Texas State University
Speaker Link
Discussant: Yutang Jin, Princeton University
Speaker Link
Discussant: Mercedes Valmisa, Gettysburg College
Speaker Link
11/12/2021 Online Meeting
6:30 PM
meeting postponed