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Global Philosophy Research Interest Group Talk (Hagop Sarkissian, CUNY)

Thursday March 7, 2024, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Global Philosophy Research Interest Group is delighted to welcome as guest speaker Hagop Sarkissian, a professor and the chair of the Department of Philosophy at the City University of New York (CUNY), Baruch College, as well as a professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. Most of Dr. Sarkissian’s research focuses on moral psychology, broadly construed. He describes himself as a “methodological pluralist,” using resources from other relevant disciplines (such as evolutionary biology and experimental psychology) to inform his work. He also draws extensively from the history of Chinese philosophy, especially the classical period. Dr. Sarkissian also co-chairs the Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy.

This is an in-person event, but a live-stream will be made available for those unable to attend in person.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://utoronto.zoom.us/j/84164341145

Passcode: 177614

Talk Title

Resonant Creatures: The Significance of Rituals in Confucian Ethics

Talk Abstract

When thinking about ethical questions, philosophers typically choose focal points for reflection—the things they wish to evaluate from a moral point of view. Popular focal points include actions, general principles, or virtues. The choice of focal point is often informed by background assumptions about what is of ethical importance. A distinctive feature of texts from the classical Confucian tradition is that they often take rituals (whether mundane, everyday rites or elaborate formal ceremonies) as focal points for reflection. Indeed, in texts such as the Analects or the Xunzi, rituals are a primary focal point. In this talk, I begin by outlining the ways in which choices of focal points both afford and constrain ethical reflection. Next, I highlight how ritual is a focal point of Confucian ethics, and argue that it points us to what they thought was of ethical significance—namely, that humans are resonant creatures, constantly swayed by their social and asocial environments. I conclude by arguing why this remains of significance for us today.

The Global Philosophy Research Interest Group explores the benefits of drawing on diverse traditions of thought in approaching philosophical questions. These include novel insights into familiar problems, new questions and research directions, and fresh methodologies. We work to deprovincialize and decolonize all aspects of philosophy in the academy. The group currently has strengths in Sanskrit philosophy, and Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy in English, and classical Islamic philosophy.



Global Philosophy Research Interest Group


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