Trust Tradition

Mon, Feb 24

In this class, we'll consider another ancient approach to learning how to live: Confucianism.  In particular, we will consider whether some important philosophical truths are best learned through observing tradition, trusting authorities, and cultivating a more deferential kind of intellectual humility.  We will consider the challenges we face when we try to adapt rituals and traditions to modernity. And we'll consider a contemporary Western approach to traditionalism.

By the end of class:

  1. You will appreciate arguments for adopting beliefs in accordance with tradition.
  2. You will be able to critically reflect on the appropriate place of tradition and authority in belief.
  3. You will have a basic familiarity with the Confucian tradition and its emphasis on trust in authority.

Read This:


Analects Books 4, 9, and 10 (Confucius)

A Modern Defense of Religious Authority (Linda Zagzebski)


Chinese Eye Alternative Funerals as Graveyard Prices Soar (Forbes)


Do This:

Complete the following reflection questions in your GGL Journal:

  1. Zagzebski describes conditions under which trusting authority is justified. What are those conditions? Who are the authorities in your life, that Zagzebski would think are justified? Do you in fact trust those people?
  2. Why do you think trust and authority play central roles in ordering many religious, social, and political communities around the world? Do we, globally, trust too much or too little?

Watch This: