Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Exploring non-western philosophies

In this video, Karyn Lai summarise Confucian and Daoist conceptions of a good life, and discusses how they relate to disability.

As we have discussed throughout this course, the concept of “a good life” is a value-laden one. Everyone has a different idea about what is involved in living a good life and these ideas can be strongly influenced by our social, cultural and historical contexts.

In the video in this step, Associate Professor Karyn Lai from UNSW Australia talks about the differences between the Western and Chinese conceptions of a good life. In particular, Karyn emphasises that in Chinese philosophy thinking about a good life means understanding that change is imminent and that we live in a plural world. As Karyn explains, these two factors mean that living a good life from a Confucius perspective is about cultivating relationships and connections to support you through inevitable change.

Karyn also explains how Daoism in particular asks people to find a good life by looking at what they have — their bodies, their capabilities and their materials —- and starting from there to develop a good life. Living a good life, then, is a journey; it is a dynamic process which moves out from each person’s concrete “allotment”. This is in stark contrast to the Western ideas around a good life which start with an ideal, towards which people aspire.

Talking Points

  • What did you find particularly interesting about Karyn’s discussion of a good life?
  • Can you imagine how some of these ideas from Chinese philosophies could be applied to thinking about a good life in the context of disability?
This article is from the free online

Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now