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Karyn L. Lai
University of New South Wales
  1.  22
    Emotional Attachment and Its Limits: Mengzi, Gaozi and the Guodian Discussions.Karyn L. Lai - 2019 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14 (1):132-151.
    Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi's interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi's view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational proximity and its limits, setting up requirements (...)
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  2.  21
    The Cicada Catcher: Learning for Life.Karyn L. Lai - 2019 - In Karyn L. Lai & Wai-wai Chiu (eds.), Skill and Mastery Philosophical Stories from the Zhuangzi. UK: Rowman and Littlefield International. pp. 143 - 162.
    The cicada catcher focuses as much on technique as he does on outcomes. In response to Confucius’ question, he articulates in detail the learning he has undertaken to develop techniques at each level of competence. This chapter explains the connection between the cicada catcher’s development of technique and his orientation toward outcomes. It uses details in this story to contribute to recent discussions in epistemology on the cultivation of technique.
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  3.  17
    Learning to Be Reliable: Confucius' Analects.Karyn L. Lai - 2018 - In Karyn L. Lai, Rick Benitez & Hyun Jin Kim (eds.), Cultivating a Good Life in Early Chinese and Ancient Greek Philosophy Perspectives and Reverberations. Bloomsbury. pp. 193-207.
    In the Lunyu, Confucius remarks on the implausibility—or impossibility—of a life lacking in xin 信, reliability (2.22). In existing discussions of Confucian philosophy, this aspect of life is often eclipsed by greater emphasis on Confucian values such as ren 仁 (benevolence), li 禮 (propriety) and yi 義 (rightness). My discussion addresses this imbalance by focusing on reliability, extending current debates in two ways. First, it proposes that the common translation of xin as denoting coherence between a person’s words and deeds (...)
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  4.  26
    Daoism and Confucianism.Karyn L. Lai - 2014 - In Xiaogan Liu (ed.), Dao Companion to Daoist Philosophy. Springer. pp. 489-511.
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  5.  19
    Knowing How and Knowing To.Karyn L. Lai & Stephen Hetherington - 2015 - In Brian Bruya (ed.), The Philosophical Challenge from China. MA, USA: MIT Press. pp. 279 - 302.
    Since the 1940s, Western epistemology has discussed Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how. Ryle argued that intelligent actions – manifestations of knowledge-how – are not constituted as intelligent by the guiding intervention of knowledge-that: knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that; we must understand knowledge-how in independent terms. Yet which independent terms are needed? In this chapter, we consider whether an understanding of intelligent action must include talk of knowledge-to. This is the knowledge to do this or that now, (...)
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  6.  19
    Zhuangzi's Suggestiveness: Skeptical Questions.Karyn L. Lai - 2017 - In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), What Makes a Philosopher Great? London and NY: Routledge. pp. 30-47.
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  7.  13
    Environmental Concern: Can Humans Avoid Being Partial? Epistemological Awareness in the Zhuangzi.Karyn L. Lai - 2013 - In Carmen Meinert (ed.), Nature, Environment and Culture in East Asia: The Challenge of Climate Change. Brill. pp. 69-82.
    Discussions of human partiality—anthropocentrism—in the literature in environmental ethics have sought to locate reasons for unnecessary and thoughtless degradation of the earth’s environment. Many of the debates have focused on metaethical issues, attempting to set out the values appropriate for an environmental ethic not constrained within an anthropocentric framework. In this essay, I propose that the fundamental problem with anthropocentrism arises when it is assumed that that is the only meaningful evaluative perspective. I draw on ideas in the Zhuangzi, a (...)
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  8.  11
    Ren: An Exemplary Life.Karyn L. Lai - 2014 - In Amy Olberding (ed.), Dao Companion to the Analects. Springer. pp. 83-94.
    This chapter discusses ren 仁, a major term in the Confucian Analects. It analyzes the range of meanings of ren across different conversations, paying special attention to its associations with other key Confucian terms such as li (禮 behavioural propriety) and zhi (知 understanding). Building on this analysis, the discussion focuses on ren in terms of how it is manifest in a person’s life. In particular, it expresses ren in terms of an exemplary life—a life lived well. The chapter also (...)
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  9.  32
    Learning From the Confucians: Learning From the Past.Karyn L. Lai - 2008 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1):97-119.
    A distinguishing characteristic of Confucianism is its emphasis on learning (xue), is a key element in moral self cultivation. This paper discusses why learning from the experiences of those in the past is important in Confucian learning.
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