Sam Crane is Chair of the Political Science Department at Williams College, where he teachers Chinese Politics and Ancient Chinese Philosophy. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught at Georgetown University and The Hopkins- Nanjing Center before settling into the political science department at Williams in 1989. In recent years his teaching and writing have focused on early Chinese philosophy. His 2002 book, Aidan’s Way, drew on Daoism to reflect upon the life of his profoundly disabled son. Since then, Crane has read widely in classical Chinese thought to produce his most recent book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern American Life, which applies concepts from pre-Qin Confucian and Daoist texts to contemporary American social and ethical issues. Follow his views on Chinese thought at his blog, The Useless Tree.
Westerners in China are confronted by a different cultural tradition that may inform their own values and help teach them how to better conceptualize moral issues in their own societies. How, for example, would Confucius react to same-sex marriage in the United States? Can Zhuangzi contribute to the debate on abortion? Of course the ancient philosophers are not here to instruct us, but we can use key concepts from these venerable thinkers to develop uniquely Confucian and Daoist understandings of a variety of contemporary social and ethical issues. Such questions will be explored by Sam Crane, author of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern American Life. Come hear him talk about how and why ancient strands of Confucianism and Daoism can be relevant to Americans today