Fields of Research (FoR)Philosophy, History and philosophy of specific fields, History and Philosophy of Specific Fields, Environmental Philosophy
Dr Karyn Lai is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages. Her research in Chinese philosophy has been influential internationally, with impacts on scholarship, education and in the broader community. By engaging Chinese and Western philosophy in dialogue, her publications in quality outlets offer more culturally-inclusive and relevant models of human wellbeing, attracting significant multidisciplinary scholarly...view more
Dr Karyn Lai is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages. Her research in Chinese philosophy has been influential internationally, with impacts on scholarship, education and in the broader community. By engaging Chinese and Western philosophy in dialogue, her publications in quality outlets offer more culturally-inclusive and relevant models of human wellbeing, attracting significant multidisciplinary scholarly interest. She has investigated the nature of moral life in the Confucian tradition and draws on discussions in the Confucian texts to diversify our conceptions of ethics. More recently, she has been exploring the Daoist texts, particularly the Zhuangzi (4th c. BCE), to understand what its fascinating stories tell us about mastery, action, knowledge and agency.
She has established UNSW’s internationally-renowned program in Chinese philosophy, which has been highly endorsed by peers and students. She has helped advance research excellence in the field, especially through key editorial roles in quality journals. She is editor of the Chinese Comparative Philosophy section, Philosophy Compass (Wiley-Blackwell), co-editor of the Chinese philosophy section, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and Associate Editor of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
BA Hons, MA Hons (National University of Singapore), PhD, Philosophy (Sydney)
Awards and Nominations
- Nominee for Best HDR Supervision Award, Dean’s Research Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, 2018
- Representative of the Australian Academy of Humanities (AAH) at the joint conference and MOU treaty with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China, June 2014.
- Dean’s Award for the Best Contribution to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2011, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW. (Lai, Karyn. 2011. Assessing participation skills: online discussions with peers. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education IFirst: 1-15. (26 Jul 2011) DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2011.590878.)
- Anthony Mason Fellow, UNSW. Fellowship awarded for international exchange at Beijing University. Feb-July 1999.
My Research Activities
2019 Plenary Speaker, British Society for History of Philosophy conference, Kings College London, 24-26 April.
2019 Invited Speaker, Curing through Questioning: Philosophy as Therapy Across Ancient Traditions and Modern Applications, University of Oxford, 1-2 June.
2019 Plenary Speaker, International Society for Chinese Philosophy Conference, Bern University, 2-5 July.
2018 Invited speaker, "Horizons of Community: Exclusivity and Inclusivity in Ancient Greece and Early China workshop", University of Melbourne, 22-23 November.
2018 Invited speaker, "Comparing Virtues, Roles, Duties in early China and Graeco-Roman antiquity Symposium", Renmin University, Beijing, 5-8 July.
2018 Invited Speaker "The Epistemic Responsibilities of the Humanities", East-West Philosophy conference, Abraham Kuyper Center, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 30-31 May.
2018 Invited speaker, "Slote Encountering Chinese Philosophy Conference", Chinese University of Hong Kong, 16-17 March.
2017 Invited speaker, Practical Reason: East and West, Aarhus University, conference sponsored by a Humboldt Foundation Grant, November.
2017 Plenary speaker, International Society for Chinese Philosophy Conference, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, July.
2017 Invited speaker, The Art of Feeling: East and West, Berne University, Switzerland, July.
2014 Keynote speaker, Confucius World Consortium, University of Hawai’i, October.
2009 Keynote speaker, Practical Reasoning and Ethics in pre-Qin Confucian Philosophy, International Society for Chinese Philosophy Conference, National Taiwan University.
2009 Invited speaker, Happiness East and West, Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Theme (China-West Studies), School of Humanities, University of Hong Kong.
2007 Plenary speaker, Chinese Philosophy and Moral Psychology, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
2005 Presidential Address, Chinese Philosophy and Human Well-Being: Change, Anticipation and Response, Conference of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Australia.
2005 Public Lecture, Philosophy and Philosophical Reasoning of Zhuangzi: Dealing with Plurality, University of Queensland.
My Research Supervision
Areas of supervision
I am happy to supervise postgraduate research projects in Chinese philosophy, comparative Chinese-western philosophy, ethics (including environmental ethics) and wellbeing, and epistemology.
Graduate student completions
- Charintorn Nongbua (PhD, Philosophy): Human existence and action in English-language translations of the Daodejing. Graduated 2020.
- Mindy Xu (MA, Philosophy): Comparative Bioethics, Graduated 2018
- Yuzhou Yang, PhD, Practical contextualism in Chinese philosophy. Graduated 2017
- Thomas McConochie, PhD, Mysticism in the Zhuangzi. Graduated 2017
- Yu-Yi Lai, MA, Heng in the Yijing. Graduated 2016
- Wai Wai Chiu (PhD, Philosophy): Zhuangzi’s Concept of Zhi (knowledge, knowing, wisdom). Graduated 2013, currently Assistant Professor at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
- Winnie Sung (PhD, Philosophy): Xunzi’s Concept of Xin. Graduated 2010, currently Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
- Ranie Villaver (PhD, Philosophy): Is there a Tension between the Zhuangzi’s Scepticism and its Normative Recommendations?: A Yangist Interpretation of the Neipian. Graduated 2012, currently Lecturer, San Carlos University, Philipplines
- Jasim Uddin, (PhD, Philosophy) Interconnectedness as the basis of environmental ethics. Graduated 2004, currently Professor, North South University, Bangladesh.
- Olusegun Samuel (PhD, Philosophy): Addressing fragmented relationships and dislocation in environmental thinking: Ubuntu insights on human and nonhuman wellbeing.
- Yu-Yi Lai (PhD, Philosophy): Reflective observing (guan 觀): bridging the practice gap in Confucian self-cultivation.
- Andrew Koh (PhD, Philosophy): The embodiment and enactment of shen 神 in the Huangdi neijing 《黃帝內經》 by contemporary healers (yi 醫).
- Waldemar Brys (PhD, Philosophy): Epistemology Enlarged: Knowledge as Practice in Chinese and Western Philosophy.
- Sophia (Feiyan) Gao (PhD, Philosophy): Early Confucian Ethics and Feminist Care Ethics.
Membership of Professional Organisations
- Regional Representative (Australia) (2005-)
- President (2003-2005)
- Vice-President (2001-2003)
- Editor, Chinese Comparative Philosophy Section, Philosophy Compass, A Journal of Peer-reviewed survey articles from across the discipline. Wiley-Blackwell. ISSN: 1747-9991
- Associate Editor, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, ISSN: 0004-8402
- Section Editor, Chinese Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Book reviews editor (Asia and Europe) and Editorial Board member, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell. ISSN: 0301-8121
- Editorial Board member, Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Brill Publishers. ISSN: 1673-3436
- Editorial Board member, Handbooks to Asian Philosophy, Bloomsbury Publishing
- Chinese Philosophy
- Philosophy of Religion