Timothy Guttman: Islamic Thought Among Others The Confucian Ethics of Wang Daiyu

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us next Thursday, March 7th from 2:00-3:30pm in Swift 400 at Islamic Studies Workshop for a talk with Timothy Gutmann. Timothy will be presenting on his paper titled:

Islamic Thought Among Others The Confucian Ethics of Wang Daiyu

Abstract: In this paper, I will consider how the Muslim thinker Wang Daiyu 王岱輿 (1570-1660) conceived of human flourishing in a Chinese Confucian political and cosmic situation. Recently, scholars have taken interest in the extent to which Wang, and the tradition of Islamic thought in Chinese he represents, adapted Chinese frameworks to Islamic theology and anthropology and vice versa. Here I will argue that such scholarship presumes a binary opposition between Islam and Chinese traditions that does not fully obtain in the work of Wang and his successors. I compare Wang’s conception of the “human ultimate” (renji ⼈極) through the Confucian doctrine of the five constant (wuchang 五常) virtues. It is precisely these virtues that earlier neo-Confucian tradition used to define its ethical human ideal: the sage (shengren 聖⼈). Drawing on Alasdair MacIntyre, I argue that in the realm of human flourishing Wang sees Islam and Confucianism as commensurable. Finally, I address the present moment, in which Chinese authorities are policing Muslims and scrutinizing Islam to a historically unprecedented degree, and offer some preliminary thoughts on the issue on Islam and the question of the other.

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