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University of Oregon

Ted Slingerland Visits ICDS October 10, 2014

Ted Slingerland, Professor of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia


Associate Member, Depts. of Philosophy and Psychology

Friday, Oct 10, 2014

4:00 pm

Location: 101 Jaqua Academic Center

 

Trying Not to Try: Cooperation, Trust and the Paradox of Spontaneity

Many early Chinese thinkers had as their spiritual ideal the state of wu-wei, or effortless action. By advocating spontaneity as an explicit moral and religious goal, they inevitably involved themselves in the paradox of wu-wei—the problem of how one can try not to try—which later became one of the central tensions in East Asian religious thought. In this talk, I will look at the paradox from both an early Chinese and a contemporary perspective, drawing upon work in social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and evolutionary theory to argue that this paradox is a real one, and is moreover intimately tied up with problems surrounding cooperation in large-scale societies and concerns about moral hypocrisy.