DateOctober 29, 2020 (Thursday)
Time12:00 - 13:30
SpeakerProf Eric S. Nelson (HUMA)
ModeratorVictoria Caplan


About the Talk  - Powerpoint slides

Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life (Register here)

The early Daoist text the Daodejing is popularly and anachronistically thought to speak in direct ways to ecology and the environment. Such prevalent ways of reading the text persist even as they are frequently criticized in the Sinological and Daoist scholarly community. While the Daodejing was composed across different historical contexts with diverse purposes in mind, the text continues to speak to questions of how to individually and socially live and interact with human and inhuman life and the natural world.

In discussing my new book Daoism and Environmental Philosophy: Nourishing Life, I reexamine the extent to which the Daodejing and other early Daoist texts can be suggestive for addressing the contemporary environmental crisis. I consider whether and how early Daoist conceptions and practices of emptying (xu 虛), stilling (jing 靜), and making plain (su 素), responsive attunement (wuwei 無為), and nourishing life (yangsheng 養生 ) can be interpreted and reimagined in critical ecological models that indicate different more nurturing ways of dwelling and becoming with our environment and the myriad things (wanwu 萬物), in their own respective tendencies and ways of becoming (ziran 自然).


Notes: (i)HLTH 1010 - HKUST students may attain 1.5 hours credit for the Healthy Lifestyle Course after attending the talk. (ii)This event will be recorded using video and photography.


Prof. Eric Nelson

About the Speaker

Eric S. Nelson is Associate Professor of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, having joined in 2014.

He received his PhD from Emory University. His areas of teaching and research include modern European, East Asian, and intercultural/comparative philosophy and religion. He is particularly interested in questions of communication, interpretation, and social interaction (hermeneutics and ethics).

His other book, Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought, was published in 2017 and he has published over seventy articles and book chapters on Chinese, German, and Jewish philosophy.


  • (will not be published)