Rodney Taylor
Professor Emeritus
Religious Studies

Office: HUMN 253

Ph.D. (Columbia University, 1974)

Research Interests: 

East Asian Religions, religious dimensions of Confucianism, religion and nature

Primary Teaching Areas and Opportunities for Student Supervision

  • East Asian religions
  • Chinese and Japanese religious thought
  • Humor and Satire in the various Religious Traditions
  • Religious Nature of Confucianism
  • Religion and Ecology
  • Method and Theory


My work over the years has focused around the question of the religious nature of the Confucian tradition. Often identified as a tradition known more for its social ethics than a religious perspective, I have sought to bring the discussion of Confucianism into the discourse of history of religions. This pursuit has focused my work around identifying those aspects of the tradition that can best be described as religious, including the cultivation of the goal of sagehood (sheng) as well as the nature of learning (xue). Aspects of this approach have included the study of ideas of scripture, the nature of sagehood, the role of meditation and the exercise of autobiographical writing. I have also looked at comparative issues and what might be called applied questions, examining the nature of modernity, comparative contemplative practice and ideas of suffering.

After many years of administrative work, I would like now and for the next several years to begin to enlarge my own teaching and research to incorporate a broader thematic approach to the study of religion, looking comparatively at meditative systems, ideas of the human condition and the occurrence of suffering and the role of religion in ecological consciousness, particularly the deep ecology movement and arts and crafts movement.

Rodney Taylor begins phased retirement on July 1, 2010.

In 2011 Professor Taylor was invited to become a regular commentator on Confucianism for the Huffington Post.


  • Confucius, The Analects: The Path of the Sage (Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2011)
  • Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism, two volumes (New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2005)
  • Confucianism ( Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004)
  • The Religious Dimensions of Confucianism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990)
  • Co-editor with J. Watson, They Shall Not Hurt: Human Suffering and Human Caring. (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1989)
  • The Confucian Way of Contemplation: Okada Takehiko and the Tradition of Quiet-Sitting (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1988)
  • The Way of Heaven: An Introduction to the Confucian Religious Life (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986)
  • Co-editor with F. M. Denny, The Holy Book in Comparative Perspective (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1985)
  • The Cultivation of Sagehood as a Religious Goal in Neo-Confucianism: A Study of Selected Writings of Kao P'an-lung, 1562-1626, American Academy of Religion Dissertation Series, 1978


  • "Of Animals and Man: The Confucian Perspective," (revised) in A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science and Ethics, Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton, eds ( New York: Columbia University Press, 2006) pp. 293-307.
  • "Confucian Spirituality and Qing Thought," in Confucian Spirituality, Vol. II, Tu Wei-ming and Mary Evelyn Tucker, eds. ( New York: Crossroad Herder Press, 2004), pp. 163-179.
  • "Companionship With the World: Roots and Branches of a Confucian Ecology," in Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans, Mary Evelyn Tucker & John Berthrong, eds.(Cambridge: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions/Harvard University Press, 1998), pp. 27-57.
  • "The Religious Character of the Confucian Tradition," Philosophy East & West 48:1 (January, 1998), pp. 80-107.