Franklin Perkins

Franklin Perkins


Faculty Visiting Professor of the Philosophy of Religions

Franklin Perkins is a scholar of the history of philosophy, with particular concentrations in Classical Chinese Philosophy and Early Modern European Philosophy. His work addresses common philosophical issues by drawing resources across different cultural traditions. Many of his research interests center around globalizing philosophy of religion. One of his current research project concerns methods for cultivating and controlling emotions across Chinese, Indian, and classical Mediterranean traditions. That project involves comparing conceptions of emotions and beliefs as well judgments about the value of things beyond our control. Another current project is on the development of cosmological thinking in early China, particularly as attested by recently excavated texts, and the intersections between ethics and conceptions of the world.

Perkins is the author of Heaven and Earth are not Humane: The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy (Indiana, 2014), which gives a history of early Chinese philosophy in terms of responses to a growing consensus that the order of nature is not itself ethical. This consensus arose from a version of the problem of evil: the recognition that bad things happen to good people. His most recent book is Doing What You Really Want: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mengzi (Oxford University Press, 2021). He was also co-editor (with Chenyang Li) of Chinese Metaphysics and Its Problems (Cambridge, 2015). Perkins was originally trained in the history of European Philosophy, particularly the Early Modern Period. He has authored two books on the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Leibniz: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2007), and Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light (Cambridge, 2004). His books have been translated into Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese.

Perkins received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Pennsylvania State University. He has previously taught at Vassar College, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), and at DePaul University, where he was also director of the Chinese Studies Program. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and editor of the journal Philosophy East and West.