Haixia Lan

Position title: UW System Fellow (2017-2018)

English, UW-La Crosse

Portrait image of Haixia Lan

Aristotle and Lao-Zhuang on Rhetoric and Dao: Not to Persuade and No-Action

To some, Aristotle and Lao-Zhuang (Laozi-Zhuangzi) may seem to have little in common and even to exemplify the dichotomy between reason and intuition. However, their actual teaching complicates these assumptions. Given how crucial these authors are in shaping and reflecting their respective cultural ethos, their teaching is examined closely in this study to help foster better cross-cultural communication today. Instead of aiming at establishing certain readings of Aristotelian and Daoist teaching as superior to others, this study hypothesizes that different, including some opposing, interpretations may all have something to contribute to meaningful comparative rhetorical studies of China and the West, that some less anthologized scholarship deserves our attention, and that it therefore needs to be incorporated into comparative studies that we teach on university campuses to prepare students for the challenge of the 21st century.

Haixia Lan’s PhD in English from Purdue University emphasizes Rhetoric and Composition and Literary Theory, and her teaching of and research on writing and comparative rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse focus on rhetorical invention, i.e., on the relation between language use and probable thinking. Her book Aristotle and Confucius on Rhetoric and Truth: The Form and the Way (Routledge 2016) aims at fostering better understanding between China and the West, and it explores both the similarities and the differences between the two cultures through examining ides of αλήθεια/truth, form, enthymeme, epiekia, kairos, topoi, stasis according to Aristotle on the one hand and, on the other, tian, dao, ren, yi, li, yue according to Confucius. Since 2008, she has also been Academic Director of the 2+2 English Degree Program at UW-La Crosse.