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Civility as Self-Determination

Civility as Self-Determination BOOK DISCUSSION The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy. By Amy Olberding. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. Oluf  ẹmi  O. Táíwò Philosophy Department, Georgetown University olufemi.taiwo@georgetown.edu What purpose does civility actually serve? In an age of increasing political polarization, Amy Olberding’s recently published The Wrong of Rudeness defends politeness, with some unexpected help from ancient Chinese thought. This defense sits in tension with a broader social conversation that focuses on the interaction of civility with oppressive social structures. Through a critical engagement with Olberding’s book, I argue here that taking oppression seriously requires us to reclaim and repurpose civility. This means that we must attend to the social-structural function of what we often split into “civility, manners, and etiquette.” Olberding wisely suggests that we follow Confucius’ lead in replacing this list with the encompassing term li, which I treat here as encompassing informal social structure, capaciously understood—essentially, a society’s moral social structure. Careful attention to the role of li in the maintenance of both a given social order and the social projects aimed at changing that social order will reveal its importance. Much of the popular discontent about civility stems from the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1529-1898

Abstract

BOOK DISCUSSION The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy. By Amy Olberding. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. Oluf  ẹmi  O. Táíwò Philosophy Department, Georgetown University olufemi.taiwo@georgetown.edu What purpose does civility actually serve? In an age of increasing political polarization, Amy Olberding’s recently published The Wrong of Rudeness defends politeness, with some unexpected help from ancient Chinese thought. This defense sits in tension with a broader social conversation that focuses on the interaction of civility with oppressive social structures. Through a critical engagement with Olberding’s book, I argue here that taking oppression seriously requires us to reclaim and repurpose civility. This means that we must attend to the social-structural function of what we often split into “civility, manners, and etiquette.” Olberding wisely suggests that we follow Confucius’ lead in replacing this list with the encompassing term li, which I treat here as encompassing informal social structure, capaciously understood—essentially, a society’s moral social structure. Careful attention to the role of li in the maintenance of both a given social order and the social projects aimed at changing that social order will reveal its importance. Much of the popular discontent about civility stems from the

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Oct 28, 2020

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