There is a movement underway in philosophy that takes advantage of both advanced research in cognitive neuroscience and the latest developments in pre-modern Chinese philosophy with the goal of producing better-founded theories in philosophy more generally. In this book, Bongrae Seok demonstrates why he is among the leaders of this movement. Drawing from a wide range of scientific, interpretive, and philosophical sources, Seok draws a detailed and persuasive argument for understanding Confucian moral philosophy as a middle ground between virtue ethics and situationist ethics, and as an important alternative to prevailing hyper-rationalist theories of moral agency.
(Brian Bruya, Eastern Michigan University)The main strengths of this study lie in a substantive statement of an embodied cognition approach to Confucian moral psychology, particularly the Mencian wing of the tradition. Seok outlines an alternative to existing rationalist and sentimentalist accounts of Confucian moral psychology, drawing extensively from a wide range of research programs across the cognitive sciences in ways accessible to the non-specialist. Along the way, he applies this new framework to a number of important issues in the corpus, including the nature of moral judgment, virtue, and emotion. The book provides a new and fruitful vantage point from which to evaluate some of the core assumptions of the classical Confucian thinkers.
(Hagop Sarkissian, The City University of New York, Baruch College)
About the Author
Bongrae Seok is associate professor of philosophy in Alvernia University (Reading, Pennsylvania). He received his BA in Seoul National University (South Korea) and MA and PhD from University of Arizona (Tucson, Arizona) where he studied philosophy and cognitive science. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in the neural systems, memory, and aging program at the University of Arizona for research projects on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. He published several books and articles on decision theory, cognitive modularity, moral nativism (such as Mencius and Reid), moral reasoning (such as perception of change and probability, attribution patterns), moral emotion (such as Confucian shame) in Chinese philosophy and Confucian moral psychology. He has been working on several projects that relate Confucian philosophy to contemporary discussions of emotion, social cognition, intuition, moral reasoning, and character traits in psychology and cognitive science. His recent project includes an interpretation of Confucian moral psychology from the perspective of affective intuition, other regarding emotions, and embodied categorization patterns in taxonomic reasoning.