Speaker, Author and Professor
of Ethics, Intercultural Ethics,
Medical Ethics & Asian Philosophy

Striking a Balance: A Primer in Traditional Asian Values

Revised Edition (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2010)

Back Cover:

Striking a Balance offers a cogent, thoughtful, and thoroughly engaging review of the major ethical teachings in the dominant Asian traditions.  Michael C. Brannigan applies his extensive background and scholarship to craft a concise yet comprehensive introduction to Asian Ethics covering the long-standing traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.  He does this through the skillful use of narratives from classical and contemporary Asian literature.  Moreover, he demonstrates that despite differences, these traditions share a unifying theme in the principal ethical teachings—cultivating balance is a fundamental building block for inner harmony, moral activity, and a just society.

Through historical overview and discussion of essential ethical themes, Striking a Balance presents the rich texture of traditional Asian moral teachings in ways that are appealing, instructive, and enlightening.  The work presupposes no prior knowledge of ethics or of Asian traditions and is ideal for all who are interested in learning more about Asian Cultures and moral teachings.  It is also an invaluable text for students at the introductory as well as upper levels in ethics, Asian studies, philosophy, religion, and humanities.

Testimonials to revised edition:

Striking a Balance is an unusual, well-written introduction to Asian thought.  In addition to a clear, lucid explication of primary concepts, Michael C. Brannigan provides an insightful and philosophically sensitive retelling of a host of stories drawn from classical sources in Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen Taoism, and Confucianism.  In the process he invites the reader to explore the ethical values woven into these traditions, to get to know the people whose lives have been shaped by those values, and to reflect on a range of similarities as well as differences between Eastern and Western cultures.”

Douglas W. Shrader
State University of New York at Oneonta

“Increasingly, Americans are asking whether daunting social problems, from failing schools to violent crime, might be rooted in faulty ethical values—values that place an exaggerated emphasis on individual self-assertion over the goods of family and community.  In this readable, deeply informed book, Brannigan explores a variety of non-Western ethical traditions that strike a healthier balance between individual and communal goods.”

Gregory Bassham
King’s College

From Panelists at Association for Practical and Professional Ethics annual conference, March 2011

– Panel title: Author Meets the Critics: Striking a Balance

“First and foremost, I think the book is remarkably elegant and achieves the nearly impossible in making a concise, rich, and accessible exploration of the major Asian religions.”

Mark Wilson
Villanova University

“Striking a Balance is a welcome contribution to understanding Asia in a deeper context, the context where, as Michael Walzer has argued, thin concepts are broadened into thick accounts and experiences of intention, values, and actions the closer we get to the lived experience of human beings within their respective cultural contexts…

The strengths of Michael’s work in cross-cultural philosophy and religion have been sustained over twenty years beginning with his book Everywhere and Nowhere: The Path of Alan Watts (1988).  He has continually demonstrated a facility and depth of understanding that is crucial to a deep reading and understanding of non-Western traditions.  From my vantage point, Michael embodies Kasulis’ conditions for Biorientation.  Thus, the strengths of Striking a Balance are myriad and would be a valuable text in any cross-cultural philosophy and/or religious course.  It’s language is accessible, the selection of texts is influenced by a thoroughgoing knowledge of each of the traditions he covers, and the inclusion of review questions and bibliography will be helpful to both teacher and student.”

Thomas Pynn
Kennesaw State University

Lexington Books