International Conference at UNSW Australia (Sydney), 15-18 January 2016

What does it take to live well? Ancient Chinese and Greek philosophy present accounts or models of life lived well: a Confucian junzi, a Daoist sage and a eudaimonic life. Philosophical discussions in these traditions bring to light pictures of the good life as well as its constitutive elements. These include, for example, the Stoic life of virtue, Aristotelian intellectual virtues, Confucian virtue ethics, and Daoist ideals of nonaction. Yet, living well is not simply about having the right kinds of pursuits or ends nor is it just about how particular activities are executed. The good life is primarily about agency, and a richer account is facilitated by understanding how it is cultivated.

At this conference, we aim to extend existing debates on the good life by investigating the processes associated with cultivating or nurturing the self in order to live such lives, ably and reliably. What is involved in developing practical wisdom, nurturing the exercise of reason, cultivating equanimity, fostering reliability, learning to respond fittingly, developing knack, and so on? This inquiry shifts the focus from definitions of a good life to the process of its cultivation. For example: instead of examining eudaimonia, we might consider the cultivation of metis or hexis; instead of discussing the junzi, we might study xin (reliability). Taking a first-person perspective on cultivation, the conference will explore how training equips a person to undertake particular actions or tasks well, and reliably so. Key questions include those concerned with practice, discipline, cultivation of habits and skills as well as the resources required for such pursuits. These deliberations will enrich our understanding of learning and action as well as our conceptions of agency.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Sophie-Grace Chappell, The Open University, UK, editor of Intuition, Theory and Anti-Theory in Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2015) and author of Knowing What To Do: Imagination, Virtue, and Platonism in Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Reading Plato’s Theatetus (Hackett, 2005)

Professor Yahei Kanayama, Nagoya University, Japan, author of numerous articles in Greek philosophy, especially on Plato, and translator of Greek philosophical texts such as all the works of Sextus Empiricus (Kyoto University Press, 1998, 2004, 2006, 2010, together with Mariko Kanayama).

Professor Poo, Mu-chou, Chinese University of Hong Kong, editor of Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions (Brill, 2009) and author of Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and China (SUNY, 2005) and In Search of Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion (SUNY: 1998).

Professor Lisa A. Raphals, University of California, Riverside, USA, author of Divination and Prediction in Early China and Ancient Greece (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China, (SUNY, 1998).

Professor Wang Keping, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, PRC, author of Reading the Dao: A Thematic Inquiry (Continuum Publishing, 2011) and Spirit of Chinese Poetics (Beijing Foreign Languages Press, 2008).