Research Project


Fate, Fatalism and Autonomy

Prof. Dr. Lisa Raphals
This project explores a naturalistic approach to autonomy. I draw on perspectives from Chinese and Greek antiquity, philosophy, and several scientific literatures, including historically and philosophically comparative research on fate, destiny, divination and autonomy. Chapter 1 addresses the boundary between humans and animals, including ancient debates and contemporary anthropological and scientific literature. Chapter 2 considers the autonomous self specifically as embodied, beginning with Chinese and Greek accounts of the relation between mind and body. I also explore research in neuroscience and cognitive science on the interfaces between mind, body, and brain, especially the somatic basis of emotion and reason. Chapter 3 address the grounding of the moral autonomy of embodied individuals in emotion and reason, beginning with ancient theories of emotion and rationality. These are reconsidered in light of recent research on roles of the emotions in cognition and moral reasoning, including the biological basis of emotion and memory. Chapter 4 examines theories of fate, divination and prediction in Chinese and Greek texts and compares them to contemporary philosophical debates on determinism and compatibilism.

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