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Benjamin Huff

Education

  • Ph.D., M.A., Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
  • B.A., Philosophy/B.S., Mathematics, Brigham Young University

Biography

Benjamin Huff was born in northern Virginia but has traveled extensively, living in Saudi Arabia for seven years and Japan for two years. He has taught in the Philosophy Department at Randolph-Macon College since September 2006. His research interests include Ethics (especially Virtue Ethics), Confucianism, Comparative (East-West) Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion. He teaches a number of courses in these and other areas in ethics (theoretical and applied) and the history of philosophy. His long-term research project is to develop a contemporary eudaimonist ethical theory, incorporating insights from ancient Greek and Confucian ethical thought.

Courses Taught

  • Phil 212—Ethics
  • Phil 213—Environmental Ethics
  • Phil 220—Philosophy East and West
  • Phil 234—Philosophy of Education
  • Phil 251—Ancient Greek and Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Phil 260—Philosophy of Religion
  • Phil 343—Confucian Tradition
  • Phil 370—19th-Century Philosophy
  • Phil 404—Freedom (on free will)
  • Phil 408—Virtue (contemporary virtue ethics)
  • RMCS 102—Freedom, Knowledge, and Self-Mastery
  • FYC 178—Ethics and Ecology of China's Three Gorges Dam
  • FYC 249-250—Drama, Dialogue, and Dialectic

Selected Publications

“Servants of Heaven: The Place of Virtue in the Confucian Cosmos,” International Communication of Chinese Culture 2017:2 (spring), in production.

Putting the Way Into Effect: Inward and Outward Concerns in Classical Confucianism,” Philosophy East and West 66:2 (April 2016), 418-448.

“Justice, Benevolence, and Friendship: A Confucian Addition to Thomistic Ethics?” with Heidi Giebel (U. of St. Thomas), in Travis Dumsday, ed., The Wisdom of Youth  (Catholic University of America Press, 2016), 310-328.

The role of computational physics in the liberal arts curriculum,” with Rachele Dominguez (RMC), Journal of Physics: Conference Series 640 (2015) 012061.

Eudaimonism in the Mencius: Fulfilling the Heart,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14:3 (September 2015) 403-431.

“The Target of Life in Aristotle and Wang Yangming,” in Stephen Angle and Michael Slote, eds., Virtue Ethics and Confucianism (Routledge, 2013), 103-113. [review at Philosophy East & West]

“Total Recall’s Total Rethink,” in Philip K. Dick and Philosophy (Open Court, 2011), 237-46. [analysis of free will for a popular audience, drawing on Nietzsche, Kant, Aristotle, and Emerson]

“Theology in the Light of Continuing Revelation,” in David Paulsen and Donald Musser, eds., Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies (Mercer UP, 2007). 478-88.

Book Review

Review of Shannon Vallor, Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting (Oxford University Press, 2016), in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, April 20, 2017.

Selected Presentations

“Abiding in the Highest Good: Formal Eudaimonism in Early Confucian Thought,” Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought, Indiana University—Bloomington, April 22, 2017.

“Heaven’s Decree and the Boundaries of Control,” American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting (ISCP session), Baltimore, MD, January 6, 2017.

“Servants of Heaven: The Confucian Gentleman’s Place Within the Cosmos,” East-West Philosophers’ Conference, University of Hawaii—Manoa, May 25, 2016.

“Conceptions of the Highest Good in Early Confucian Thought,” Northeast Conference on Chinese Thought, Southern Connecticut State University, November 7, 2015.

“The Wilderness, the Vineyard, and the Transformative Restoration,” Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley, CA), April 17-18, 2015.

“Eudaimonism in the Mencius,” Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought, Indiana University—Bloomington, April 13, 2012.

“Freedom in Pursuing the Good: Bondage and Emancipation in Plato’s Gorgias,” Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture conference, November 11, 2011.

“Friendship and Political Solidarity in Aristotle and Classical Confucianism,” ISCWP session, American Philosophical Association Pacific Meeting, San Diego, CA, April 20-23, 2011.

“Happiness as the Target of Life in Aristotle and Wang Yangming,” International Conference on Confucianism and Virtue Ethics, Peking University, Beijing, China, May 14-16, 2010.

Current Projects

Book—Conspiring With Heaven: Confucian Eudaimonist Ethics

    The goal of early Confucian thought is nothing less than world peace. A Han period text, the Great Learning, describes this goal as the “ultimate” or “highest good” (zhì shàn 至善) and summarizes the process by which it must be achieved. This process begins in the cultivation of one’s own character, but has implications for all major aspects of human life. In fact, early Confucian thought includes at least five major ways of conceptualizing the highest good, each expressing the Confucian vision for a different aspect of the moral life, including human nature, moral psychology, the relationships between the virtues, Confucian political aspirations, and the role of Heaven (tian 天) and its mandate (ming 命). In this book project I present a systematic account of early Confucian ethical theory, exploring these five conceptions of the highest good, which represent complementary aspects or dimensions of one holistic vision of human flourishing.