December | 2014 | The Asia Institute


Asia Institute Seminar Series 

“The Horizons of East Asian Thought”

Opening on Wednesday, December 31 2014  @ The Asia Institute Office (see map below)

The rise of European culture as the banner of imperialism in the 18th century established Western philosophy and science as the only great tradition for the entire world. East Asian philosophy was little more than a branch of anthropology and could not be considered as on a par with Plato and Kant.

But Asia’s economic rise and the contradictions of Western modernity have led scholars to reconsider the stature of the East Asian tradition—going as far as to see it as a reflection of the great Western tradition, but perhaps as also containing elements that can lead us forward.

The time has come for us to look again at the Chinese and Korean tradition, the great philosophies of the past, and think about how they can present new paths for us towards a more just and sustainable future.

This seminar is not a hermeneutic debate on syntax and semantics However, rather we will consider the historical context of each philosopher as a means of grasping the uniqueness of the system he presented and consider what its implications are for us in the present moment.


The seminar is intended for internationals in Seoul who  speak English, but all English speakers are welcome.

The course will continue for three-weeks, twice a week (Wednesdays & Sundays). Each seminar will last two hours. The seminar stresses discussion, as opposed to lecture, so careful preparation and active participation are encouraged. There will be opportunities to employ PowerPoint presentations as part of the discussion. would be minimized and active discussion between members be encouraged.

Wed, Dec, 31th: (Opening Session)

Confucianism: The Essence of Politics – Confucius: The Scholar Wandering from State to State

-Mencius: A Man of Courage pleading for human goodness

Sun, Jan 4th: (Second Week)

Taoism: Inaction (wuwei 無爲) and Naturalness (ziran自然) -Laozi: The Nietzsche of East Asia, breaking down dogmatism and becoming a good ruler -Zhangzi: Free and easy wandering as the ultimate freedom

Wed, Jan 7th: (Third Week)

Indian Buddhism and Zen -Indian Buddhism: How to free yourself from suffering -Zen Buddhism: Beyond dogmas and linguistic boundaries

Sun, Jan 11th: (Fourth Week)

Neo-Confucianism, the Metaphysics of Confucianism -Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming: What is the essence of humanity?

Wed, Jan 14th: (Fifth Week)

Korean Buddhism -Wonhyo: Harmony and integration of all beings through understanding of mind

Sun, Jan 17th: (Sixth Week)

Choseon Neo-Confucianism
– Toegye and Yulgok: The debate on the primacy of Li and Ch’i

We require reservations in advance and we limit the number of participants to eight for each seminar. We prefer participants who will attend all six sessions. Participants will be accepted in order of application. The fee is 5,000 Won for each session. Please register in advance.

Please send payment to bank account below.

Hana Bank 190-910375-82207
Heekyoung Pae 

And send email With contact information to confirm your participation to:

The 2nd East Asia Youth Leadership Forum
15th of February, 2015
“Social Networks and the Potential of Youth”

On-line social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have taken off at a tremendous rate around the world over the last ten year years and have evolved into a major part of the daily lives of many youth. The tremendous potential of social networks for communication, friendship and creativity attracts us. Nevertheless, much of the cooperation on social networks remains superficial and self-indulgent. The opportunities for forming networks around the world to promote deep communication and collaboration are underplayed or ignored. Oddly, youth are more likely to employ social networks to show each other photographs of cafe lattes or fat cats and dogs than to talk about how we can build a better world. Continue Reading


Moderated by
Yoojin Jung
Senior Researcher
The Asia Institute  


Marc Shell, Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University, presents his insights into the cultural significance of the islands of Seoul and how they have served as to create a unique urban space. The seminar commemorates the recent publication of Professor Shell’s book Islandology: Geography, Rhetoric, Politics from Stanford University Press.

MARC SHELL, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow, is the Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. He is also Professor in the university’s undergraduate Literature Concentration and the graduate program in History of American Civilization.

Marc Shell was born in Québec in 1947. As an undergraduate, he studied English Language at McGill University (Montréal) and History at Trinity College (Cambridge). He received a BA in English Language & Literature and also in Social Thought & Institutions from Stanford University (1968).  He has an MA (1972) and PhD (1975) in Comparative Literature from Yale University. Before coming to Harvard University, Professor Shell taught in the Department of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo (1974-1986). His administrative duties at Harvard have included chairing the Literature Concentration and the Department of Comparative Literature. Professor Shell co-founded Harvard’s summer schools in Olympia (Greece) and Cascais (Portugal). More recently, he has taught during summers at Harvard’sSummer School in Venice (Italy). During the 2007-09 academic year terms, when classes at Harvard were not in session, Professor Shell was scholar-in-residence, for one week each, at three institutions: Nanjing Normal University (Nanjing, China), the City University of New York (Brooklyn, NY), and the United Arab Emirates University (Al Ain, United Arab Emirates). Professor Shell is Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Center for the Environment.