David Shepherd Nivison

David Shepherd Nivison (January 17, 1923 – October 16, 2014) was an American Sinologist and scholar known for his publications on late imperial and ancient Chinese history, philology, and philosophy, and his 40 years as a professor at Stanford University.[1] Nivison is known for his use of archaeoastronomy to accurately determine the date of the founding of the Zhou dynasty as 1045 BC instead of the traditional date of 1122 BC.

David S. Nivison
David Nivison
David S. Nivison[a]
BornJanuary 17, 1923
DiedOctober 16, 2014 (aged 91)
Los Altos, California, United States
Alma materHarvard University (A.B., Ph.D.)
Known forDiscovery of accurate Zhou dynasty founding date
Cornelia Green
(m. 1944; died 2008)
Scientific career
FieldsChinese history, philosophy
InstitutionsStanford University (1948-88)
Academic advisorsJohn King Fairbank
James Robert Hightower
William Hung
Yang Lien-sheng
Notable studentsPhilip J. Ivanhoe, Edward Shaughnessy, Kwong-loi Shun, Bryan W. Van Norden
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese倪德衛
Simplified Chinese倪德卫

Life and career

David Shepherd Nivison was born on January 17, 1923, outside of Farmingdale, Maine. His great-uncle, Edwin Arlington Robinson, was a notable 19th-century American poet and a three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.[2]

Nivison entered Harvard University in 1940, but, like many American men of his generation, his studies were interrupted by World War II. Nivison served in the United States Army Signal Corps as a Japanese translator, where he worked in a group organized by Edwin O. Reischauer. He returned to Harvard after the war's conclusion in 1945, and graduated in 1946 with a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in Chinese. Nivison stayed at Harvard for graduate studies in Chinese, receiving his Ph.D. in 1953 with a dissertation on 18th-century Chinese philosopher Zhang Xuecheng. He worked with J.R. Hightower, Reischauer and John K. Fairbank, and his first Chinese teachers were Yang Lien-sheng and William Hung, who passed on their deep knowledge of traditional Chinese scholarship and interest in recent Western historiography.[3]

Nivison began teaching at Stanford University in 1948, and eventually held a joint appointment at Stanford in three departments: Philosophy, Religious Studies and Chinese and Japanese. Nivison devoted time and energy in the 1950s to train himself in the field of philosophy. He audited courses at Stanford and spent the academic year 1952-1953 at Harvard, where he audited Willard Van Orman Quine's course on Philosophy of Language. He was chair of the Stanford Philosophy Department 1969-1972, a time of student protests at Stanford, as elsewhere in the world, and spent a night in the department office to protect it from attack. In 1979, the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association elected him president.[4] From 1954 to 1955 Nivison was a Fulbright Fellow in Kyoto, Japan, and was a Guggenheim Fellow at Oxford University in 1973. Nivison retired from Stanford in 1988 and was designated professor emeritus.[1]

His doctoral dissertation on Zhang Xuecheng, the neglected Qing dynasty philosopher and historian, was published in 1966 as The Life and Thought of Chang Hsüeh-Ch'eng, 1738-1801, and won that year's Julien Prize. In the field of philosophy, his major contribution is the application of the techniques of analytic philosophy to the study of Chinese thought. In Sinology, one of his contributions has been the effort to precisely date the founding of the Zhou Dynasty, based on archaeoastronomy. The traditional date was 1122 BC, but Nivison initially argued that the likely date was 1045 BC, and then later suggested that it was 1040 BC.

Nivison died at his home in Los Altos, California, on October 16, 2014, at age 91.[1]

Major works

  • The Ways of Confucianism: Investigations in Chinese Philosophy. Edited with an introduction by Bryan W. Van Norden. Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 1996. Chinese translation published as 儒家之道 : 中国哲学之探讨 (Nanjing : Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 2006).
  • Nivison, David S. (1953). "The Literary and Historical Thought of Chang Hsüeh-ch'eng, 1738-1801: A Study of His Life and Writing, With Translations of Six Essays from the Wen-shih t'ung-i". Ph.D. dissertation (Harvard University).
  • The Riddle of the Bamboo Annals (Zhushu jinian jiemi 竹書紀年解謎), Taipei: Airiti Press, 2009. ISBN 978-986-85182-1-6, a summary by Nivison here.
  • Key to the Chronology of the Three Dynasties: The "Modern Text" Bamboo Annals, Philadelphia: Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1999. ASIN B0006R6NXK
  • Nivison, David S. (1996). Van Norden, Bryan W., ed. The Ways of Confucianism : Investigations in Chinese Philosophy. Chicago: Open Court. ISBN 0812693396.
  • The Life and Thought of Chang Hsüeh-ch'eng. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966. Google Book.
  • Communist Ethics and Chinese Tradition. (Cambridge: Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1954). ISBN
  • David S. Nivison and Arthur F. Wright, eds. Confucianism in Action. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, Stanford Studies in the Civilizations of Eastern Asia, 1959).


  1. ^ Photo courtesy of George Zhijian Qiao
  1. ^ a b c Wakefield (2014).
  2. ^ Robinson Monument
  3. ^ Ivanhoe (1996), p. xvi-xvii.
  4. ^ Ivanhoe (1996), p. vii-ix.



Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.

Consequentialism is primarily non-prescriptive, meaning the moral worth of an action is determined by its potential consequence, not by whether it follows a set of written edicts or laws. One example would entail lying under the threat of government punishment to save an innocent person's life, even though it is illegal to lie under oath.

Consequentialism is usually contrasted with deontological ethics (or deontology), in that deontology, in which rules and moral duty are central, derives the rightness or wrongness of one's conduct from the character of the behaviour itself rather than the outcomes of the conduct. It is also contrasted with virtue ethics, which focuses on the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the act (or omission) itself, and pragmatic ethics which treats morality like science: advancing socially over the course of many lifetimes, such that any moral criterion is subject to revision. Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods.

Some argue that consequentialist and deontological theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, T. M. Scanlon advances the idea that human rights, which are commonly considered a "deontological" concept, can only be justified with reference to the consequences of having those rights. Similarly, Robert Nozick argues for a theory that is mostly consequentialist, but incorporates inviolable "side-constraints" which restrict the sort of actions agents are permitted to do.

Deaths in October 2014

The following is a list of notable deaths in October 2014.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship and reason for notability, established cause of death, reference.


Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.

Three major areas of study within ethics recognized today are:

Meta-ethics, concerning the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions, and how their truth values (if any) can be determined

Normative ethics, concerning the practical means of determining a moral course of action

Applied ethics, concerning what a person is obligated (or permitted) to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action

List of Guggenheim Fellowships awarded in 1973

List of Guggenheim fellows for 1973.


Mohism or Moism (Chinese: 墨家; pinyin: Mòjiā; literally: 'School of Mo') was an ancient Chinese philosophy of logic, rational thought and science developed by the academic scholars who studied under the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi (c. 470 BC – c. 391 BC) and embodied in an eponymous book: the Mozi. It evolved at about the same time as Confucianism, Taoism and Legalism, and was one of the four main philosophic schools from around 770–221 BC (during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods). During that time, Mohism was seen as a major rival to Confucianism. Although its influence endured, Mohism all but disappeared as an independent school of thought.


Mozi (; Chinese: 墨子; pinyin: Mòzǐ; Wade–Giles: Mo Tzu ; Latinized as Micius ; c. 470 – c. 391 BC), original name Mo Di (Chinese: 墨翟), was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period (early portion of the Warring States period of c.475–221 BC). A book named after him, the Mozi, contains material ascribed to him and his followers.

Born in what is now Tengzhou, Shandong Province, he founded the school of Mohism that argued strongly against Confucianism and Taoism. His philosophy emphasized self-restraint, self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual. During the Warring States period, Mohism was actively developed and practiced in many states but fell out of favour when the legalist Qin dynasty came to power in 221 BC. During that period, many Mohist classics are by many believed to have been ruined when the emperor Qin Shi Huang supposedly carried out the burning of books and burying of scholars. The importance of Mohism further declined when Confucianism became the dominant school of thought during the Han Dynasty, until mostly disappearing by the middle of the Western Han dynasty.Mozi is known by children throughout Chinese culture by way of the Thousand Character Classic, which records that he was saddened when he saw dyeing of pure white silk, which embodied his conception of austerity (simplicity, chastity). For the modern juvenile audience of Chinese speakers, the image of his school and its founder were popularized by the animated TV series The Legend of Qin.

The concept of Ai (愛) was developed by the Chinese philosopher Mozi in the 4th century BC in reaction to Confucianism's benevolent love. Mozi tried to replace what he considered to be the long-entrenched Chinese over-attachment to family and clan structures with the concept of "universal love" (jiān'ài, 兼愛). In this, he argued directly against Confucians who believed that it was natural and correct for people to care about different people in different degrees. Mozi, by contrast, believed people in principle should care for all people equally. Mohism stressed that rather than adopting different attitudes towards different people, love should be unconditional and offered to everyone without regard to reciprocation, not just to friends, family and other Confucian relations. Later in Chinese Buddhism, the term Ai (愛) was adopted to refer to a passionate caring love and was considered a fundamental desire. In Buddhism, Ai was seen as capable of being either selfish or selfless, the latter being a key element towards enlightenment.

State consequentialism

Mohist consequentialism, also known as state consequentialism, is a consequentialist ethical theory which evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how it contributes to the basic goods of a state, through social order, material wealth, and population growth. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mohist consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BC, is the "world's earliest form of consequentialism, a remarkably sophisticated version based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human welfare". The term state consequentialism has also been applied to the political philosophy of the Confucian philosopher Xunzi.

Although the scholars cited above have suggested that Mohist consequentialism is a type of state consequentialism, a recent study of Mohism argues that this interpretation is mistaken, since the Mohists hold that right and wrong are determined by what benefits all the people of the world, not by what benefits the state. The Mohists' concern is to benefit all people, considered as an aggregate or a community, not to benefit a particular political entity, such as the state.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinNí Déwèi
Wade–GilesNi2 Te2-wei4

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