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Tag: philosophy

The Meaning of John Dewey’s Trip to China, 1919-1921

     This year, in addition to teaching American philosophy in Taiwan, I have been researching John Dewey’s visit to China from 1919-1921.  The facts surrounding Dewey’s visit are fairly well known.  Dewey arrived in China at the height of the May Fourth Movement.  His former students invited him to tour and to give lectures throughout the country, and there are detailed records of his itinerary and the content of his talks.  I have focused primarily on how this experience influenced Dewey himself, and I have been reading his papers and personal letters in order to gain some insight.      The real meaning of Dewey’s visit remains a question that neither history nor philosophy has conclusively settled.  According to historian Benjamin Schwartz, “the encounter between John Dewey and modern China is one of the most fascinating episodes in the intellectual history of twentieth-century China.”  After reviewing Dewey’s own experiences, I think it is fair to say that it was one of the most fascinating episodes in Dewey’s own intellectual development as well.  Of particular interest in this regard is the manner in which the relationship between Confucian institutions and democratic reform was debated in Dewey’s presence, and the way

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Teaching Dewey in Taiwan

In the fall semester of 2014, I taught a seminar on American philosophy to graduate students in the Philosophy department at National Taiwan University.  The main focus of the course was on the work of John Dewey, an American philosopher who, along with his wife Alice, spent over two years in China (1919-1921).  The timing of their stay could not have been more momentous.  They arrived in China on May 1, 1919, three days before the student uprisings of May 4, 1919.  This episode is part of a period now known as the May Fourth movement, during which Chinese thinkers engaged in vigorous debates over traditional customs and values.  During his visit, Dewey travelled, lectured, and wrote extensively about his experiences in China.  As my students and I read his philosophical works, I am working through Dewey’s own writings from this period: his personal letters, essays, and lectures.  What I’ve discovered has enriched my Taiwan experience very much. Obviously, much has changed since John Dewey visited the Republic of China in 1919.  Among the most important changes is that the Republic of China is now located on Taiwan.  Despite this geopolitical change, what is most striking is how many of

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Brian Bruya: Apply comparative philosophy on the contemporary issues

    Eastern and Western philosophy have distinguished heritages and are both are valuable cultural assets. However, today’s philosophical training in the West tends to neglect the value of Eastern philosophical approaches to contemporary issues. Dr. Brian Bruya noticed this trend and suggests both eastern and western approaches need to be considered in order to attack contemporary social and moral issues. Professor Bruya lectured in two graduate seminars, “American Pragmatism” and “Comparative Moral Psychology,” to share his insights on comparative philosophy in the National Taiwan University. He also shares his experience living in Taiwan.  毫不費力(無為):傅爾布萊特系列講座     我們常形容一人不費吹灰之力完成一件困難的任務。但是當我們試著把人類行為中所謂的“毫不費力”概念化,就沒這麼容易了。這次的講座柏嘯虎教授就要從哲學、行為心理學與認知科學的角度一探這個橫跨中西的概念。     東西方的哲學思維傳承了不同的文化結晶,但現今的哲學訓練經常偏重其一而忽略了整體。­柏嘯虎教授認為處理當代社會與道德問題時,不論東西方哲學都有其實用之處。柏教授在傅­爾布萊特獎學金的支持下,於臺灣大學哲學研究所開設”美國實用主義”及”比較道德心理學”兩門課程分享他在比較哲學領域的心得。於訪談­中他也分享了他這一年於台灣生活的體驗。     柏嘯虎教授擅長人類行為研究,尤其專精於“毫不費力”或“無為”的探討。柏教授有深厚的比較哲學背景,尤其擅長於中國哲學領域。他還曾與創造力大師米哈里合作而涉足心理學,進而踏入認知科學領域,合著由麻省理工學院出版的“不費力的專注力–專注力與行動認知科學的新觀點(暫譯)”。

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Teaching Philosophy in Taiwan

     I am writing this while on a teaching Fulbright in the Department of Philosophy at National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei, during the 2012-2013 school-year. My duties are to teach one graduate class each semester. The first course was American Pragmatism and the second course Comparative Moral Psychology. In this essay, I will discuss how the content in these courses has been modified from similar courses I have taught in the States and what has happened as a result.      There are two basic things that distinguish my Taiwan students from my previous American students. The first is their bilingual abilities. In addition to their native Chinese ability, they can all read English with great facility and have an adequate level of competence in both speaking and listening. The second distinguishing mark is their background in Chinese philosophy. The Department of Philosophy at NTU is divided into two tracks, the Eastern Philosophy track and the Western Philosophy track. Regardless of the track, all undergraduate students are required to take the same basic courses in the history of philosophy, which include thorough introductions to Chinese philosophy. These two characteristics of Taiwan students have allowed me to tailor my

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