I am a philosopher specializing in ethics, political philosophy and Chinese thought. My current work focuses on Confucianism and rights, welfare theory, issues in moral reasoning and moral motivation, and (especially) the the 18th Century Confucian Dai Zhen.
Although I work in a philosophy department, I also have a great deal of background in classical Chinese language and literature, on which much of my work necessarily depends. For the oppotunity to train as a dual specialist I am indebted to the Committee on Social Thought, a multi-disciplinary PhD program at the University of Chicago.
Chinese philosophy (understood as the study of philosophical arguments, not as the primarily philological study of philosophical texts) is still a nascent field in the English-speaking world, having some excellent secondary literature in print, but a great deal more yet to do. Most of the influential Chinese philosophers have never received systematic treatment, and even fewer have been translated in any comprehensive way. In Western scholarship, when it comes to the thinkers now overlooked or neglected by contemporary philosophy, the presumption seems to be that they might well deserve the obscurity they enjoy. In Chinese philosophy the presumption surely runs the other way: the importance and sophistication of Cheng Yi or Wang Yangming is well attested; it is only our limited resources that have prevented us from knowing them better. And there is plenty left to say about the better-known Daoist, Confucian, and Buddhist thinkers as well. In short, it is an exciting time to be in this burgeoning field.
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and have lived in a long list of cities since departing for college: Iowa City, Northfield (MN), Nanjing (China), Minneapolis, Chicago, Harbin (China), Ann Arbor, Taipei, and San Francisco. Back before I became a graduate student, I fancied myself a rock-climber and caver (spelunker). I hope that I will someday have the time to reawaken these dormant hobbies.
I couldn’t stop myself from adding these photos.
Do you recognize this statue’s likeness? It’s the Handsome Monkey King!
Two other stars of the Journey to the West can be seen in the background.