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Compassion and Moral Guidance

Steve Bein

Compassion is a word we use frequently but rarely precisely. One reason we lack a philosophically precise understanding of compassion is that moral philosophers today give it virtually no attention. Indeed, in the predominant ethical traditions of the West (deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics), compassion tends to be either passed over without remark or explicitly dismissed as irrelevant. And yet in the predominant ethical traditions of Asia, compassion is centrally important: All else revolves around it. This is clearly the case in Buddhist ethics, and compassion plays a similarly indispensable role in Confucian and Daoist ethics.

In Compassion and Moral Guidance, Steve Bein seeks to explain why compassion plays such a substantial role in the moral philosophies of East Asia and an insignificant one in those of Europe and the West. The book opens with detailed surveys of compassion’s position in the philosophical works of both traditions. The surveys culminate in an analysis of the conceptions of self and why the differences between these conceptions serve either to celebrate or marginalize the importance of compassion.

Bein moves on to develop a model for the ethics of compassion, including a chapter on applied ethics seen from the perspective of the ethics of compassion. The result is a new approach to ethics, one that addresses the Rawlsian and Kantian concern for fairness, the utilitarian concern for satisfactory consequences, and the concern in care ethics for the proper treatment of marginalized groups. Bein argues that compassion’s capacity to address all of these makes it a primary tool for ethical decision-making.

3 illus.

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Confucian Political Ethics

Daniel A. Bell

For much of the twentieth century, Confucianism was condemned by Westerners and East Asians alike as antithetical to modernity. Internationally renowned philosophers, historians, and social scientists argue otherwise in Confucian Political Ethics. They show how classical Confucian theory--with its emphasis on family ties, self-improvement, education, and the social good--is highly relevant to the most pressing dilemmas confronting us today.

Drawing upon in-depth, cross-cultural dialogues, the contributors delve into the relationship of Confucian political ethics to contemporary social issues, exploring Confucian perspectives on civil society, government, territorial boundaries and boundaries of the human body and body politic, and ethical pluralism. They examine how Confucianism, often dismissed as backwardly patriarchal, can in fact find common ground with a range of contemporary feminist values and need not hinder gender equality. And they show how Confucian theories about war and peace were formulated in a context not so different from today's international system, and how they can help us achieve a more peaceful global community. This thought-provoking volume affirms the enduring relevance of Confucian moral and political thinking, and will stimulate important debate among policymakers, researchers, and students of politics, philosophy, applied ethics, and East Asian studies.

The contributors are Daniel A. Bell, Joseph Chan, Sin Yee Chan, Chenyang Li, Richard Madsen, Ni Lexiong, Peter Nosco, Michael Nylan, Henry Rosemont, Jr., and Lee H. Yearley.

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Confucian Role Ethics

A Vocabulary

By Roger T. Ames

In this landmark work, noted comparative philosopher Roger T. Ames interprets how the classics of the Confucian canon portray the authentic, ethical human being. He argues that many distinguished commentators on Confucian ethics have explained the fundamental ideas and terms of this distinctively Chinese philosophy by superimposing Western concepts and categories, effectively collapsing this rich tradition into a subcategory of "virtue ethics." Beginning by addressing the problem of responsible cultural comparisons, Ames then formulates the interpretive context necessary to locate the texts within their own cultural ambiance. Exploring the relational notion of "person" that grounds Confucian philosophy, he pursues a nuanced understanding of the cluster of terms through which Confucian role ethics is expressed. Drawing on Western and Chinese sources, Ames provides a convincing argument that the only way to understand the Confucian vision of the consummate life is to take the tradition on its own terms.

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Craving and Salvation

A Study in Buddhist Soteriology

Bruce Matthews

Is there any escape form the awareness of pain and the bonds of an unending cycle of life? Why are human subject to craving" What is the nature human beings? The Buddhist understanding of salvation is based upon such queries.


A thorough grasp of the function of craving in religious life is strategic to an understanding of Buddhism, yet its role in the Buddhist plan of salvation is easy to oversimplify and misinterpret. Matthews examines the concept of craving in Buddhism from both a phenomenological and religious perspective. He btings to the task a critical examination of key canonical texts of the Sutta Pitaka (Nikayas) as well as extensive travel in research of the meaning of craving for contemporary Buddhists, from learned monks to lay villagers. Having established the Buddhist perspective on how craving arises, how it affects the mind, and how it can be redirected, the volume concludes with spiritual implications of craving: crucial to awareness and freedom—emancipation—is the engagement and harnessing rather than suppression of craving.

The volume will be of interest to students of Buddhism, historians of religion, and persons interested in basic human questions.

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Daoist Philosophy and Literati Writings in Late Imperial China

A Case Study of The Story of the Stone

By Zuyan Zhou

This volume first explores the transformation of Chinese Daoism in late imperial period through the writings of prominent intellectuals of the times. In such a cultural context, it then launches an in-depth investigation into the Daoist dimensions of the Chinese narrative masterpiece, The Story of the Stone—the inscriptions of Quanzhen Daoism in the infrastructure of its religious framework, the ideological ramifications of the Daoist concepts of chaos, purity, and the natural, as well as the Daoist images of the gourd, fish, and bird. Zhou presents the central position of Daoist philosophy both in the ideological structure of the Stone, and the literati culture that engenders it.

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Daxue and Zhongyong

Bilingual Edition

Translated and annotated by Ian Johnston and Wang Ping

For the past eight hundred years, the study of Confucian doctrine has been largely dominated by the crucial works known as the “Four Books”: the Analects, the Mencius, the Daxue and the Zhongyong. In their original forms, the Daxue and Zhongyong were two of the more than forty chapters of the larger Li ji (Book of Rites), only gaining prominence thanks to the Song Neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi. In this groundbreaking text, Ian Johnston and Wang Ping have translated both of these versions of the Daxue and Zhongyong. One version as chapters of the Li Ji that contain the influential commentary and notes of Zheng Xuan and Kong Yingda, and the second after they were reorganized into standalone works and reinterpreted by Zhu Xi. Johnston and Wang also include extensive explanatory and supplemental materials to help contextualize and familiarize readers with these supremely influential works.

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Demythologizing Pure Land Buddhism

Yasuda Rijin and the Shin Buddhist Tradition

Paul B. Watt

The True Pure Land sect of Japanese Buddhism, or Shin Buddhism, grew out of the teachings of Shinran (1173–1262), a Tendai-trained monk who came to doubt the efficacy of that tradition in what he viewed as a degenerate age. Shinran held that even those unable to fulfill the requirements of the traditional Buddhist path could attain enlightenment through the experience of shinjin, "the entrusting mind"—an expression of the profound realization that the Buddha Amida, who promises birth in his Pure Land to all who trust in him, was nothing other than the true basis of all existence and the sustaining nature of human beings. Over the centuries, the subtleties of Shinran's teachings were often lost. Elaborate rituals developed to focus one's mind at the moment of death so one might travel to the Pure Land unimpeded, and a rich artistic tradition celebrated the moment when Amida and his retinue of bodhisattvas welcome the dying believer. What is more, many Western interpreters tended to reinforce this view of Pure Land Buddhism, seeing in it certain parallels to Christianity.


This volume introduces the thought and selected writings of Yasuda Rijin (1900–1982), a modern Shin Buddhist thinker affiliated with the Otani, or Higashi Honganji, branch of Shin Buddhism. Yasuda sought to restate the teachings of Shinran within a modern tradition that began with the work of Kiyozawa Manshi (1863–1903) and extended through the writings of Yasuda's teachers Kaneko Daiei (1881–1976) and Soga Ryōjin (1875–1971). These men lived through the period of Japan's rapid modernization and viewed the Shin tradition as possessing existential significance for modern men and women. For them, and Yasuda in particular, Amida did not exist in some other-worldly paradise but rather Amida and his Pure Land were to be experienced as lived realities in the present. In the writings and lectures presented here, Yasuda draws on not only classical Shin and Mahayana Buddhist sources, but also the thought of Nishida Kitarō (1870–1945), the founder of the Kyoto School of philosophy, and modern Western philosophers such as Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Buber.

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Developments in Buddhist Thought

Canadian Contributions to Buddhist Studies

Nine Canadian scholars of Buddhism consider philosophical and cultural issues in Buddhist thought. Part I, “On Being,” discusses the philosophical problem of Being in the school of the Middle Way, Mādhyamika Buddhism, and in the Tantric School of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Part II, “On the Indian Milieu,” surveys Hindu views of Buddhism and explores Buddhism’s relationship with other Indian religious and philosophical traditions. Part III, “On the Chinese Milieu,” analyzes developments in Buddhist thought in China.

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Emptiness and Omnipresence

An Essential Introduction to Tiantai Buddhism

Brook A. Ziporyn

Tiantai Buddhism emerged from an idiosyncratic and innovative interpretation of the Lotus Sutra to become one of the most complete, systematic, and influential schools of philosophical thought developed in East Asia. Brook A. Ziporyn puts Tiantai into dialogue with modern philosophical concerns to draw out its implications for ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. Ziporyn explains Tiantai’s unlikely roots, its positions of extreme affirmation and rejection, its religious skepticism and embrace of religious myth, and its view of human consciousness. Ziporyn reveals the profound insights of Tiantai Buddhism while stimulating philosophical reflection on its unexpected effects.

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The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 2

Karl H. Potter

The complementary systems of Nyaya and Vaisesika constitute one of the oldest and most important traditions within Indian philosophy. This volume offers a systematic and detailed exposition of the two schools from their beginning to the time of Gangesa (A.D. 150-1350). An extensive interpretive essay introduces summaries of most of the known works written within the tradition. The result is both an excellent introduction for students and an indispensable guide to the thought and literature of early Nyaya-Vaisesika.

Originally published in 1978.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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