Vulnerability has become a significant concept of analysis in fields of study or disciplines such as ethics, public health (and policy), risk management, and social work. One common way of understanding vulnerability is as susceptibility to harm. This often leads people to conceptualize vulnerability in negative terms–seeking to limit or eliminate vulnerability for the sake of preserving something meaningful or important. However, I would like to think about ways to reconceptualize vulnerability. Are there ways in which vulnerability (variously understood) is valuable in human experience?
This question was posed by Professor Michael Ing of the Indiana University Bloomington Religious Studies Department. Professor Ing’s research focuses on Confucianism, ritual theory, religious ethics, theory of religion, and Chinese thought. Currently Professor Ing is researching vulnerability within Confucian thought, specifically as it pertains to death, integrity, and historical memory.