Dr Curie Virág (PhD)

Senior Research Fellow and Co-Project Director; Chinese Philosophy and Intellectual History


I work in early and medieval Chinese philosophy and intellectual history, specializing in the history of ethics, moral psychology and emotions.

Currently, I am Senior Researcher and Co-Project Director of  PAIXUE, an ERC-funded, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary research project dedicated to classicising learning in medieval Chinese and Byzantine thought and learned culture. Prior to this, I was Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto and Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Central European University Budapest.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Associate Editor, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

Research summary


  • Asia 


  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Comparative & Global History
  • Culture
  • Ideas
  • Religion


  • Antiquity
  • Medieval & Renaissance

Research interests

I work in the fields of premodern Chinese philosophy, religion and intellectual history (Warring States to 12th century), with a focus on early and middle period Chinese ethics, moral psychology, and conceptions and practices of the self. Much of my work has been dedicated to the problem of emotions in traditional China – how they were conceived phenomenally, what they meant for human cognition, and what role they played in the development of ethical norms and cultural practice. 

My book, The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy (Oxford 2017), examines the philosophical debates surrounding the emotions in early China (c. 5th-3rd c. BCE), situating the intense preoccupation with the ethical, psychological and physical aspects of emotions during this period within emergent ideas about the human body, the political order, and the cosmos.



Current research interests

My ongoing projects include a sequel to my first book, which continues my investigation of emotions into the imperial period through the Tang and Song periods (8th-12th centuries), and which I am working under the auspices of the PAIXUE project. I am also co-editing with Douglas Cairns a volume on emotions in ancient Greek and early Chinese philosophy, medicine and literature.

Project activity

'Classicizing learning in Medieval imperial systems: Cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine "Paideia" and Tang/Song Xue 學” (PAIXUE). (2017-2022). 

The list below is a subset of the information held on the University of Edinburgh PURE system, and includes Books, Chapters, Articles and Conference contributions. For a full list, including details of other publication types (e.g. reviews), please see the Edinburgh Research Explorer page for Dr Curie Virág.

Books - Authored

Virág, C. (2017) The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy. New York: Oxford University PressDOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498818.001.0001


Virag, C. and Spingou, F. (2021) The pleasures of virtue and the virtues of pleasure: The classicizing garden in eleventh- and twelfth-century China and Byzantium. Medieval Worlds, 2021(13), pp. 229-265DOI: https://doi.org/10.1553/medievalworlds_no13_2021s229

Scheid, V. and Virág, C. (2018) Introduction to history of science special section on tong 通. History of Science, 56(2), pp. 123-130DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0073275318770832

Virag, C. (2016) The intelligence of emotions? Debates over the structure of moral life in Early China. L'Atelier du centre de recherche historique, pp. 83-109

Virag, C. (2014) Bridging the divide: Literature, Dao and the case for subjective access in the thought of Su Shi. Humanities, 3(4), pp. 567-584DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040567

Virag, C. (2007) Emotions and human agency in the thought of Zhu Xi. Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, 37, pp. 49-88


Virag, C. (2023) Intercultural understanding and the possibility of cross-cultural philosophy: Wittgensteinian and Zhuangzian perspectives. In: Carmona , C., Perez-Chico, D. and Tejedor, C. (eds.) Intercultural Understanding After Wittgenstein. London: Anthem Press

Virag, C. (2022) Emotions, measurement and the technê of practical wisdom in Xúnzǐ’s ethical theory. In: Konstan, D. (ed.) Emotions across Cultures: Ancient China and Greece. De Gruyter, pp. 303-325DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110784312-010

Virag, C. (2019) Moral psychology and cultivating the self. In: Ivanhoe, P. (ed.) Zhu Xi: Selected Writings. Oxford University Press, pp. 35-55DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190861254.003.0003

Virág, C. (2015) Self-cultivation as praxis in Song neo-confucianism. In: Marsone, P. and Lagerwey, J. (eds.) Modern Chinese Religion I: Song-Liao-Jin-Yuan (960-1368 AD). Brill, pp. 1187-1232DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004271647-020

Virág, C. (2014) Early confucian perspectives on emotions. In: Shen, V. (ed.) Dao Companion to Classical Confucian Philosophy. Springer Netherlands, pp. 203-225DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2936-2_9