Amy Olberding - "The Wrong of Rudeness" - Brook A. Ziporyn

Saturday, December 7, 2019 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Amy Olberding

Amy Olberding discusses The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy. She will be joined in conversation by Brook A. Ziporyn. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

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About the book: In a time of fractious politics, being rude can feel wickedly gratifying, while being polite can feel simple-minded or willfully naïve. Do manners and civility even matter now? Is it worthwhile to make the effort to be polite? When rudeness has become routine and commonplace, why bother? When so much of public and social life with others is painful and bitterly acrimonious, why should anyone be polite?

As Amy Olberding argues, civility and ordinary politeness are linked both to big values, such as respect and consideration, and to the fundamentally social nature of human beings. Being polite is not just a nicety--it has deep meaning. Olberding explores the often overwhelming temptations to incivility and rudeness, and the ways that they must and can be resisted. Drawing on the wisdom of early Chinese philosophers who lived through great political turmoil but nonetheless avidly sought to "mind their manners," the book articulates a way of thinking about politeness that is distinctively social. We can feel profoundly alienated from others, and others can sometimes be truly terrible, yet, as the Confucian philosophers encourage us to see, because we are social, neglecting the social and political courtesies comes at perilous cost.

The book considers not simply why civility and politeness are important, but how. It reveals how small insults can accumulate to damage social relations, how separating people into tribes undermines our better interests, and how even bodily and facial expressions can influence our lives with others. Many of us, in spite of our best efforts, are often tempted to be rude, and will find here tools for fighting that temptation.

About the author: Amy Olberding is Presidential Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. Her work focuses on early Chinese ethics. She is the author of Moral Exemplars in the Analects (Routledge, 2011), several academic journal articles, and she has also published work with Aeon, The Forum, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

About the interlocutor: Brook A. Ziporyn is a scholar of ancient and medieval Chinese religion and philosophy. Professor Ziporyn received his BA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, and his PhD from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the Divinity School faculty, he has taught Chinese philosophy and religion at the University of Michigan (Department of East Asian Literature and Cultures), Northwestern University (Department of Religion and Department of Philosophy), Harvard University (Department of East Asian Literature and Civilization) and the National University of Singapore (Department of Philosophy).

Ziporyn is the author of Evil And/Or/As the Good: Omnicentric Holism, Intersubjectivity and Value Paradox in Tiantai Buddhist Thought (Harvard, 2000), The Penumbra Unbound: The Neo-Taoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang (SUNY Press, 2003), Being and Ambiguity: Philosophical Experiments With Tiantai Buddhism (Open Court, 2004); Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett, 2009); Ironies of Oneness and Difference: Coherence in Early Chinese Thought; Prolegomena to the Study of Li (SUNY Press, 2012); and Beyond Oneness and Difference: Li and Coherence in Chinese Buddhist Thought and its Antecedents (SUNY Press, 2013). His seventh book, Emptiness and Omnipresence: The Lotus Sutra and Tiantai Buddhism, was published by Indiana University Press in 2016. He is currently working on a cross-cultural inquiry into the themes of death, time and perception, tentatively entitled Against Being Here Now, as well as a book-length exposition of atheism as a form of religious and mystical experience in the intellectual histories of Europe, India and China.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637