Kjellberg to Guest Blog
Philosophy Talk

07 May 2005

We at Philosophy Talk are pleased to announce that Paul Kjellberg who will be our on-air guest this coming week for a discussion  of Confucius and the philosophical heritage of ancient China, has agreed to guest blog on "Philosophy Talk: the Blog."  We are grateful to Paul for agreeing both to be our on-air guest and to help us extend the conversation to the blog sphere.  Please make Paul feel welcome here by commenting extensively on his posts.

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Sunday, May 8, 2005 -- 5:00 PM

"The Master said, 'At fifteen, I set my mind on le

"The Master said, 'At fifteen, I set my mind on learning. At thirty, I took my stand. At forty, I was free of doubts. At fifty, I understand heaven?s command. And at seventy, I could follow my heart?s desire without crossing the line.'? (Analects 2.4)
To begin with, I am forty-one and this is my first time blogging. So I trust people will forgive me if I cross any lines. We will be talking about Confucius tomorrow and, without directing the discussion toward any particular topic, I would like to say a few words so people who have heard of Confucius but have no idea of what he said (which I trust is most people) will know what to expect should they tune in.
Usually when we think of an education, we think of it as the accumulation of information. While information plays an important role, a Confucian education is more a process of self-cultivation. Specifically, it is a process of becoming intelligently kind.
Like liberal education, Confucian education is not directed toward any particular form of employment. But as with a liberal education, one could use almost any form of employment to act kindly. Though he also sees kindness as an end in itself, Confucius also thinks that people who approach the task this way will ultimately be the most effective.
What does it mean to be ?intelligently kind?? People can be kind without being intelligent and intelligent without being kind. Intelligent kindness is both at the same time. Obviously by ?kindness? here we mean something more than just being nice all the time since sometimes you have to be if not cruel to be kind, at least sanguine.
We tend to think of kindness as a feeling or a passion. Etymologically, a passion is something that happens to you, as opposed to an action, which is something you do. But Confucius, along with Aristotle and others in the West, think of at least some feelings as things we can cultivate, practice, and strengthen.
I?ll stop there, not wanting to prejudice the discussion. ?To study and have a chance to practice what you?ve learned?isn?t that a joy? To have friends come from far away places?isn?t that a pleasure?? (Analects 1.1) I look forward to the discussion tomorrow.

 

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