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Difference, diversity and disagreement are inevitable features of our ethical, social and political landscape. This collection of new essays investigates the ways that various ethical and religious traditions have dealt with intramural dissent; the volume covers nine separate traditions: Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, liberalism, Marxism, South Asian religions and natural law. Each chapter lays out the distinctive features, history and challenges of intramural dissent within each tradition, enabling readers to identify similarities and differences between traditions. The book concludes with an Afterword by Michael Walzer, offering a synoptic overview of the challenge of intramural dissent and the responses to that challenge. Committed to dialogue across cultures and traditions, the collection begins that dialogue with the common challenges facing all traditions: how to maintain cohesion and core values in the face of pluralism, and how to do this in a way that is consistent with the internal ethical principles of the traditions.
The Chinese tradition has hallowed a lineage that goes from Confucius through Mencius eventually to Zhuxi, branding Xunzi a heterodox interpreter of the master. Believing in human nature's innate goodness, Mencius regarded morality as natural and instinctive. Xunzi, by contrast, regarded morality as artificial and learned behavior. This chapter considers how these three classical Confucians would have answered the questions of how to combat poverty and whose responsibility it is to do so, and by examining all three, it conveys the range of possible perspectives with legitimate claim to being Confucian. By way of conclusion, the chapter uses the example of contemporary urban homelessness, speculating on how Mencius, Zhuxi and Xunzi, might counsel their local authorities. The purpose in doing so is to show both the potential utility of their insights and those insights' limitations.
In late April 2004, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Vancouver and the University of British Columbia. He came to lecture and teach, to receive an honorary degree, and to participate in a roundtable dialogue titled “Balancing Educating the Mind with Educating the Heart.” More than a year in advance, preparations were already in high gear, and at times the level of publicity and celebrity attached to this event seemed scarcely credible – for example, one heard of tickets to his largest public teaching being auctioned on e-Bay for $1,000 each. There were also times when it all seemed a bit surreal, as when an email to participants in the related Conference on Tibet in the Contemporary World showed itself to come from “HHDL Info,” and under the rubric “Conference Extras” noted that “Specially designed conference T-shirts and monk's bags will be available for purchase at the conference.”
One could only empathize with the other scheduled distinguished honorary degree recipients and participants in the roundtable dialogue – fellow Nobel Laureates Professor Shirin Ebadi, His Excellency Vaclav Havel (who was unable for medical reasons to be present), and His Excellency The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu – none of whom were invited to deliver a keynote address, or even had their own individual posters (the Dalai Lama had no fewer than two in conjunction with the events at UBC).