In the history of Western philosophy, scarce attention has been given to the notion of aging. Certainly, death has always been a popular topic, both as a mystical/religious and more recently an existential issue, but, with some notable exceptions, the chronological process leading to death has been for the most part neglected. However, in classical Chinese writings, aging has always featured rather prominently. In this lecture, I want to outline mainly two seminal approaches to aging by classical Chinese philosophers, which rather neatly portrays the main focal distinction between the Confucian and the Daoist schools. I will argue, first, that the underlying importance of temporality in Chinese philosophy necessarily brings about a keen consciousness of aging, and, secondly, that the scope of the Confucian/Daoist approaches provides a promising basis for the development of a field that could be termed a ‘philosophy of aging’.

Geir Sigurðsson (PhD philosophy, University of Hawaii) is professor of Chinese studies at University of Iceland. He is author of Confucian Propriety and Ritual Learning (SUNY Press, 2015) and of a forthcoming annotated translation into Icelandic of Master Sun’s Art of War (Hernaðarlist Meistara Sun).