Professor Lederman was named the winner for his article, “What Is the ‘Unity’ in the ‘Unity of Knowledge and Action’?”.
In the award announcement, the judges write:
The “unity of knowledge and action” is a trademark doctrine of Wang Yangming, one of the most important philosophers in the neo-Confucian tradition. Precisely what Wang means by “unity”, however, has more been taken for granted than explained. In this carefully crafted essay, Harvey Lederman undertakes to explain the meaning of this “unity”, painstakingly examining the relevant passages, on the way to developing a unique, stimulating, and thought-provoking interpretation. Accepting the common view that the unity of knowledge and action has two aspects, one regarding ethical training (gongfu) and the other regarding the original natural condition (benti), Lederman argues that, in the former case, knowledge and action are taken to be the same thing (identity), while in the latter, knowledge and action are just taken to be necessarily coextensive (unity without identity). The clarity, carefulness, and subtleness of the arguments this essay displays, along with the novelty of its thesis, represent the type of scholarship this journal aims to promote in the study of Chinese and comparative philosophy.
The Dao Annual Best Essay Award was established in 2007. Its prize includes a certificate of achievement, $1,000, a panel at the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association on the theme of the essay, and publication of the commentary and author’s response at the panel in a subsequent issue of Dao.
You can download the full article here.