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March 04, 2012

Tang Junyi Lecture Series Featuring Brian Bruya

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
6PM Reception - 4th Floor Atrium of Palmer Commons
7PM Presentation - 4th Floor Forum Hall of Palmer Commons

Nature, Self, and Artifice: On the Divisibility of the Self in Action and Aesthetics

Can human behavior be natural rather than artificial? Although human beings are generally understood to be continuous with nature, human behavior and its products are consistently categorized as artificial rather than natural, and "nature" is generally defined as not human. This situation makes it theoretically impossible to account both for natural action in humans and for artifice in non-human animals. In this article, I interrogate the traditional nature/human dichotomy with respect to artifice. Artifice is a feature of human psychology that is found to be marked by a subjective sense of volitional unity. Through an examination of philosophical and scientific literature, I demonstrate that the human being can act not only competently but at very high levels absent this subjective sense of volitional unity. Such action is a variety of the self-organization that is a central feature of nature and so accounts for human action that can be plausibly characterized as natural.

Brian Bruya works at the intersection of ancient Chinese philosophy, cognitive science, and the philosophy of action. His work is a broad attempt to understand abiding issues in the metaphysics, aesthetics, and psychology of action, with an emphasis on effortless action. He has published a comparative analysis of effortless action in Daoism and the West, an edited volume on the cognitive science of effortless attention (MIT Press), and is currently working on an edited volume that brings Chinese philosophy into dialogue with numerous issues in contemporary analytic philosophy (MIT Press).

This presentation is sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies, The U-M College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts, and by generous gift from Donald J. Munro, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Chinese and Ann Munro.

Posted by zzhu at March 4, 2012 02:04 PM