Grounding Confucian Moral Psychology in Rasa Theory: A Commentary on Shun Kwong-loi’s “Anger, Compassion, and the Distinction between First and Third-Person.”

Australasian Philosophical Review 5 (4):405–411 (2021)
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Shun Kwong-loi argues that the distinction between first- and third-person points of view does not play as explanatory a role in our moral psychology as has been supposed by contemporary philosophical discussions. He draws insightfully from the Confucian tradition to better elucidate our everyday experiences of moral emotions, arguing that it offers an alternative and more faithful perspective on our experiences of anger and compassion. However, unlike the distinction between first- and third-person points of view, Shun’s descriptions of anger and compassion leave unarticulated what would be necessary to differentiate these responses from non-moral responses. Here, I make a friendly suggestion on how this explanatory gap might be filled, providing complementary grounding for Shun’s observations by way of K. C. Bhattacharyya’s phenomenological analysis of feeling. It fills the gap by means of a gradation in the possible depth of emotional responses found in the a priori structure of a feeling experience for any subject. The payoff of such a comparison between Shun’s explication of Confucian moral psychology and Bhattacharyya’s explication of rasa theory is not only a possible phenomenological grounding for the former but also a potential way to articulate a missing ethics in Bhattacharyya’s thought.


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