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Love in the Western and Confucian Traditions: Response to Chung-Ying Cheng


  • Acknowledgments: This article was originally presented by invitation at “Is There, Can There Be, such an Activity as World Humanities? A Symposium” organized by the Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University, January 27–28, 2012. All the papers from the conference are available on the Institute website at

MARK L. MCPHERRAN, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Simon Fraser University. Specialties: ancient Greek philosophy and religion, philosophy of religion, history of ethics. E-mail:


I agree with Professor Cheng's critique that Kant shows that Practical Reason points toward a model of human subjectivity and human autonomy congenial to Confucian thinking. In the Western rationalist tradition also there are threads that connect to other world views in an illuminating fashion if we investigate their historical roots. Using Professor Cheng's method, I claim that in the West there began a humanistic tradition that bears affinities to Confucius and which itself is now being transformed by its encounter with non-European thought. This exemplifies the comparative work that would be one facet of world humanities.