Mog Stapleton (Shanghai)

Ritual as Affective Scaffolding

short biography

Mog has spent the last two years as a visiting scholar at ECNU (albeit mostly online and based in Edinburgh due to COVID) studying Chinese philosophy and learning to read classical and contemporary Chinese. Before this, she held postdoctoral positions at the University of Edinburgh, the Unversity of Tübingen, the University of Macau, and the University of Stuttgart. She wrote her PhD in philosophy of cognitive science at the University of Edinburgh supervised by Andy Clark. Mog's main research focus is embodied and enactive cognitive science. This approach explores aspects of cognition traditionally factored out by orthodox cognitive science and analytic philosophy of mind, such as the role that physiological and morphological aspects of our bodies play in shaping or constituting experience and cognition, and the roles that the natural, social, and cultural contexts play. She is currently working on connecting this research with topics related to education and Chinese philosophy.


Ritual is an important concept in classical Chinese philosophy. In Confucianism, it is seen both from a sociopolitical point of view to play a regulative function, and from a moral point of view as enabling the cultivation of, and instantiation of flexible moral capacities. I will draw on research from the embodiment and enactive communities on affective scaffolding and propose that viewing ritual in terms of affective scaffolding can help us to resolve this tension between regulation and flexibility and provide us with a means of understanding the institutionalization of rituals which does not imply their rigidification.
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