Emotions in Asian Thought: A Dialogue In Comparative Philosophy

Emotions in Asian Thought: A Dialogue In Comparative Philosophy

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Item Code: NAE226
Author: Joel Marks & Roger T. Ames
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8170305233
Pages: 333
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 500 gm
About the Book

This book broadens the inquiry into emotion to comprehend a comparative cultural outlook. It begins with an overview of recent work in the West, and then proceeds to the main business of scrutinizing various relevant issues from both Asian and comparative perspectives. Finally, Robert Solomon comments and summarizes.

"The book provides a very good survey of how the emotions are understood in various Eastern traditions in the comparative light of contemporary Western theory. The introductory essay by Marks and the closing essays by Lutz and Solomon are particularly helpful in framing the overarching issues and contribute to a well-rounded volume." - Steven Heine, Pennsylvania State University

"Anyone who has given thought to questions such as 'what is an emotion?' or 'what is the relevance of study of Asian cultures and texts?' will benefit from this book. For more than a quarter-century the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy has provided a lively and learned forum for such questions. At the beginning of the book the editors invite new participants into the conversation by establishing a context and reviewingcontributions from the past. At the end, Robert Solomon, who is one of the most important contributors to the philosophical analysis and interpretation of emotion, offers a brilliant summary response. A particularly valuable feature of the book is that it brings to bear new perspectives from the cultures of India, China, .and Japan. This is a landmark volume." - Gene R. Thursby, University of Florida

"This book shows that cross-cultural studies have attained heights of maturity that simply were not possible in the prior generation of scholarship. The authors are well acquainted with the languages of the cultures that are examined here, and truly provide a sympathetic analysis of emotions in their respective contexts." - Christopher Key Chapple, Loyola Marymount University

About the Author

Joel Marks is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Haven. Roger T. Ames is the Editor of Philosophy East and West and Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii.


Within the Western philosophic tradition, comparative philosophy is a relatively new and still marginal movement. This is not true elsewhere. One cannot read "Japanese" philosophy written since the Meiji Restoration (1867), for example, without constant reference to the leading representatives of German idealism. In fact, because of the strong tincture of German philosophy which colors contemporary Japanese thought, the German language itself remains the philosophical language of Japan today. In India, the comparative attitude in philosophy has gone so far that one might argue it is Western philosophy that is mainstream and indigenous traditions are only complementary. In any case, the best contemporary Indian philosophers-the late Bimal Matilal, J. N. Mohanty, Daya Krishna-have one foot planted squarely.m each of the traditions. The leading minds of Chinese philosophy since Yen Fu (1853-1921) have self- consciously been Kantian or Hegelian or Whiteheadian or Marxist, using Western philosophers as a medium through which to recast traditional Chinese assumptions about ways of thinking and living.

The situation behind the general Western ignorance (in the less pernicious sense, perhaps, of "to ignore") of non-Western philosophic traditions can be captured anecdotally. A contemporary philosopher of uncommonly high regard among his peers recently did some lectures in Hong Kong. During one of these lectures at the Chinese University, the philosopher was asked by a young graduate student (to the nervous laughter of this student's teachers) if he knew anything of Chinese philosophy. With a disarming smile, he allowed that he unfortunately had not been admitted to such mysteries, but was, of course, very interested in the possibility. He is representative of Western philosophers-very good Western philosophers-who follow the custom of most good American bookstores in placing Chinese philosophy somewhere between Bantu poetry and the occult. At a minimum, Chinese philosophy has nothing to do with being a good philosopher. Winding up a rather lively and certainly entertaining session, this same philosopher thanked his audience for their many challenging questions, and congratulated them as a body somewhat removed from the center of philosophical activity on the quality of their knowledge of philosophy actually, on the quality of their knowledge of his own work and his own exclusive tradition.

Although Western philosophy is presently experiencing a "sea change" of the greatest magnitude, with philosophers and movements from every side challenging familiar, foundational claims to methodological objectivity, there still remains a large number of philosophers who, sink or swim, are ancnored firmly in the Western past and its quest for objective certainty. On the other hand, there is a growing number of increasingly influential philosophers who have abandoned "methodology" so described, and in so doing, have revalued the philosophical stock of alternative standards of evidence which derive from tradition, history, and culture. It is the latter group, representing a virtual revolution in Western thinking, who are the promise for mutual enrichment between Western and non-Western philosophical traditions.

Anticipating and always encouraging the dramatic changes that philosophy is undergoing in our historical moment, the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (SACP) was formally founded in 1967 at the University of Hawai'i precisely with the objective of promoting Western literacy in non-Western traditions of philosophy and culture. The underlying assumption is that culture must be factored into the discussion of contemporary philosophical issues. SACP has contributed on several fronts. First, it organizes regular conference participation at the annual meetings of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Divisionj.jhe Association for Asian Studies, and the American Academy of Religion. Second, it has an informal affiliation with the leading journal in comparative philosophy, Philosophy East and West, and much of its membership participates in the work of the journal as authors, reviewers, readers, and subscribers. Third, SACP, at due intervals, sponsors major research conferences and publishes representative papers as conference volumes that have tended to shape the field and its current direction.

In recent years, it has been the policy of SACP to identify an annual philosophical theme and to sponsor panels at tlie several national organizations with papers that address it. These themes have generally been selected with the intention of bringing comparative philosophers into relationship with other philosophers who identify themselves by other areas of interest and research specialization. The more successful of these encounters have followed a similar pattern. For example, in 1985 a series of panels were organized on the theme "The Asian traditions as a conceptual resource for environmental philosophy," in which comparative philosophers could contribute to ongoing discussions in the area of enviropmental philosophy. From papers prepared on this theme, special issues of Ffrilosophy East and West (37:2, April 1987) and Environmental Ethics (8:4, Winter 1986) were published, and subsequently a volume appeared entitled Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, edited by J. Baird Callicott and Roger T. Ames (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989). A similar story followed from themes on "Feminist Issues in Culture and Modernity: East & West" (Philosophy East and West 42:2, April 1992) and "Culture and Rationality" (Philosophy East and West 42:4, October 1992).

The present volume emerges from a year of panels dedicated to the theme "Emotion East and West" (Philosophy East and West 41: 1, January 1991). In this case, however, all but three of the articles have been specially commissioned from leading scholars in both comparative philosophy and philosophy of the emotions. The article by Catherine A. Lutz has been adapted from her influential book, Unnatural Emotions: Everyday Sentiments on a Micronesian Atoll and Their Challenge to Western Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988). Padmasiri de Silva's article has been adapted from his Twin Peaks: Compassion and Insight (Singapore: Buddhist Research Society, 1992). The opening article by Joel Marks is a revision of his introductory article from the Philosophy East and West special issue; it serves to provide a background on recent Western thought on emotion, and its extensive bibliography has been updated.

Another special feature of this volume is a comprehensive afterword by Robert C. Solomon, who may be credited with having truly initiated the contemporary dialogue on emotion in the West. With his concluding statement, he now helps to inaugurate a global dialogue. His essay ranges over the issues raised by all of the other contributors to this volume and then draws lessons for his own view of emotions.

With occasional although important respite, emotion-like rhetoric, imagination, experience, and woman-has, by and large, been on the wrong side of an entrenched dualism in the history of Western philosophy. The affective aspect of human flourishing has been systematically denigrated in celebration of the more cognitive aspects of personal realization. It is with the hope 'that an understanding of the structure and experience of emotion in non-Western cultures will serve to enrich the way in which emotion is perceived, and will serve in some measure to rehabilitate our affective life as being of important philosophic concern, that this volume has been compiled.

Emotions in Western Thought:Some Background for Comparative Dialogue1
Emotion in Bengali Religious Thought:Substance and Metaphor39
Ethics and Emotion:Some Indian Reflections65
Ecstasy and Epistemology91
Theoretical Perpectives on Emotions in Early Buddhism109
Then Emotions of Altruism, East and West123
Dispassion and the Ethical Life139
The Concept of Emotion Revisited: A Critical synthesis of Western and Confucian Thought161
Qing (Emotions) in Pre-Buddhist Chinese Thought181
Nietzsche and Zen Master Hakuin on the roles of emotion and passion213
Need, Nurturance, and the Emotions on a Pacific Atoll235
The Cross-Cultural Comparison of Emotion253
Notes on Contributors309
Name Index313
Subject Index319
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