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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436 (Print)
ISSN 1673-355X (Online)
CN 11-5743/B
Postal Subscription Code 80-983

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, Volume 14 Issue 3

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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Tricking or Benefitting the People? Guanzi on Objective Government and Subjective Preferences
Henrique Schneider
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 363-383.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0022-7
Abstract   PDF (292KB)

This paper discusses Guanzi’s philosophy regarding how the state should levy taxes. As Guanzi writes, people react individually to what they perceive as taxes, whereas government wants people not to react at all and simply pay the levies. Based on a philosophical analysis of human action, Guanzi suggests introducing a consumption tax on salt and iron. First, people have no way of evading them; second, because of the implicit character of the tax, people will not notice it. Therefore, these taxes will not influence behavior. This paper uses this discussion as a case study in order to show how Guanzi’s philosophy differs from other forms of Legalism. It will be shown that Guanzi is foremost a pragmatic thinker willing to use Confucian and Legalist elements, amalgamating them into policy-advice. The paper, however, does not discuss issues of Sinology as they relate to the text of the Guanzi, taking the text instead as a philosophical body.

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An Understanding of Character from Holistic Thinking: What Asian Psychology Teaches Us about the Debate on Situationism
Jacklyn A. Cleofas
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 384-405.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0023-4
Abstract   PDF (263KB)

The situationist challenge to virtue has convinced many philosophers to adopt an empirically grounded methodology. I argue that this methodology requires us to reconsider conceptualizations of and evidence on character from experiments involving Asian subjects because it is precisely in these experiments that we see a remedy for the problems exposed by situationism. Since both situationists and defenders of virtue fall short of abiding by the part of their methodological commitment associated with remediation, evidence from the experiments is relevant for most participants in the debate. I show that the evidence indicates something important about remediation: the point is not to avoid the concept of virtue or character, but to deploy a holistic thinking style that has been observed among some populations in Asia. Holistic thinking involves (a) a tendency to explain behavior in terms of the interaction between person and situation variables and (b) an incremental understanding of character. The paper ends with a brief sketch of an account of character from holistic thinking that also highlights the role of social support in managing situations.

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Dialectics of Individual Life and Moral Law: On Adorno’s Non-Identical Moral Philosophy
LUO Songtao
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 406-422.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0024-1
Abstract   PDF (254KB)

The article aims to discuss the theme of Adorno’s non-identical moral philosophy, particularly the primacy of individual life over moral laws, as based mainly on his key works like Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, On Subject and Object, Problems of Moral Philosophy, and Negative Dialectics. The claim here is that the primacy of individual life is made through negative dialectics (“non-idealist dialectics”) dealing with the antithesis between object and subject, particular and universal, individual and society under the theoretical horizon of non-identical philosophy. Meanwhile, as a private ethics, this non-identical moral philosophy based on individual life stands as a kind of negativism, which is focused on negative guidance towards the possibility of right life.

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Embodied Perception and the Schemed World: Merleau-Ponty and John Dewey
SUN Ning
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 423-434.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0025-8
Abstract   PDF (198KB)

It is now widely accepted that a mind that is saturated with bodily experience is necessary for the dual constitution of the self and the perceptual field, and that the deployment of perception is always associated with a double reafferent flow—a tactile flow and a proprioceptive flow. In this article, I will discuss this issue in a pragmatically orientated way (following John Dewey), with a possible rejoinder from the phenomenological tradition (specifically Merleau-Ponty). I make cross-references between the thought of Merleau-Ponty and of Dewey, and I believe that many insights can be drawn from such comparison. By bringing pragmatic insights into the phenomenological context, I will place Dewey’s pragmatic way of thinking about the embodied mind in a different light. However, different though they may seem, I will further argue that there is a deep sympathy between the phenomenological and pragmatic perspectives of these two thinkers, especially when we take Dewey’s existential ontology into consideration.

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To Preserve or Enhance Life? Nietzsche’s Perspectivist Understanding of Life and Morality
MENG Liang
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 435-456.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0026-5
Abstract   PDF (264KB)

Instead of denouncing sincere Christianity, as it is often assumed, Nietzsche inveighs vehemently against insincere Christianity that interpreters take as evidence for his nihilism. This essay argues that Nietzsche’s perspectivism affirms the positive value of Christian morality as an instrument for life preservation, which is a relative standard for judging various perspectives on life. It also analyzes the negative value of Christian morality as the impediment to life enhancement, which is the absolute standard for evaluating those perspectives. As this study finally argues, it remains to the Overman to once and for all overcome the impediments to life brought on by Christian morality in the creation of a new morality, if in fact what the Overman creates is indeed a new morality.

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The Mechanism of the Emergence of Nihilism from the View of Intentional Tenacity
XU Yuxia
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 457-468.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0027-2
Abstract   PDF (227KB)

This paper sets forth the reasons why Nietzsche thought nihilism to be inevitable from the perspective of the tenacity of the intentional. Through distinguishing two ordered intentional states—first-order and high-order—and two kinds of objects respectively, the paper illustrates that it is impossible to find a new ultimate value to replace Christian values when Nietzsche announced “the death of God.” Inspired by Nietzsche’s thoughts, the paper concludes by briefly discussing the possibility of comparing Confucian and Nietzsche’s ideas concerning nihilism.

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My Ordinary Anti-Sceptical Beliefs Are Not Insensitive
LAI Changsheng
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 469-489.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0028-9
Abstract   PDF (263KB)

An orthodox sceptical hypothesis claims that one’s belief that “I am not a brain-in-a-vat (BIV)” (or any other ordinary anti-sceptical belief) is insensitive. A form of sensitivity-based scepticism, can thus be constructed by combining this orthodox hypothesis with the sensitivity principle and the closure principle. Unlike traditional solutions to the sensitivity-based sceptical problem, this paper will propose a new solution—one which does not reject either closure or sensitivity. Instead, I argue that sceptics’ assumption that one’s ordinary anti-sceptical beliefs are insensitive will give rise to self-contradiction. The orthodox sceptical hypothesis is thus revealed to be incoherent and arbitrary. Given that there is no coherent reason to presuppose our ordinary anti-sceptical beliefs to be insensitive, the argument for sensitivity-based scepticism can thus be blocked at a lower epistemological cost.

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Some Applications of Lawvere’s Fixpoint Theorem
LI Xi
Front. Philos. China. 2019, 14 (3): 490-510.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0029-6
Abstract   PDF (801KB)

The famous diagonal argument plays a prominent role in set theory as well as in the proof of undecidability results in computability theory and incompleteness results in metamathematics. Lawvere (1969) brings to light the common schema among them through a pretty neat fixpoint theorem which generalizes the diagonal argument behind Cantor’s theorem and characterizes self-reference explicitly in category theory. Not until Yanofsky (2003) rephrases Lawvere’s fixpoint theorem using sets and functions, Lawvere’s work has been overlooked by logicians. This paper will continue Yanofsky’s work, and show more applications of Lawvere’s fixpoint theorem to demonstrate the ubiquity of the theorem. For example, this paper will use it to construct uncomputable real number, unnameable real number, partial recursive but not potentially recursive function, Berry paradox, and fast growing Busy Beaver function. Many interesting lambda fixpoint combinators can also be fitted into this schema. Both Curry’s Y combinator and Turing’s Θ combinator follow from Lawvere’s theorem, as well as their call-by-value versions. At last, it can be shown that the lambda calculus version of the fixpoint lemma also fits Lawvere’s schema.

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