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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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, Volume 13 Issue 4 Previous Issue   
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Tragic Recognition: Revisiting Hegel’s Conception of Ethical Life
Mario Wenning
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 483-504.
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This paper interprets Hegel’s engagement with tragedy and especially tragic action as an interpretive model for understanding ethical life in complex societies in which independent value spheres collide. Tragic recognition, in contrast to the kind of recognition introduced in the master and slave dialectic, is not based on desire, but arises from the suffering deriving from clashing value spheres. As a coming to terms with one’s finitude, tragic recognition presents an important corrective to the account of mutual recognition that has been the reference point of contemporary interpretations of Hegel’s social and political philosophy. The paper concludes by pointing to some of the limits of tragedy as a universal interpretive framework for modern societies.

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Necessity and Memory in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: A Reconstruction
Hans-Georg Moeller
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 505-517.
Abstract   PDF (257KB)

This paper discusses two core concepts in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: necessity (Notwendigkeit) and memory (Erinnerung). The analysis is based on an investigation of the connotations and linguistic components of the two terms as they are used in the German language. Occurrences of the terms in decisive passages in the Phenomenology of Spirit are investigated and seen as a key to an understanding of Hegel’s overall project of constructing a “scientific” (wissenschaftlich) philosophy in the form of a conceptual system. The paper aims at showing that this project can in part be understood as an attempt to transform the contingency of all moments of the path of the self-cultivation, maturation, and growth (Bildung) of spirit (Geist)—understood both in terms of its personal dimension and as “world spirit”—into necessity. It is argued that memory plays a decisive role in this endeavor, not only in the sense of a recalling of the past, but also as a prerequisite for a future that opens up room for further cultivation, maturation, and growth.

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Why Is Being Nothing? An Apophatic Reading of Hegel’s Opening to the Science of Logic
Nahum Brown
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 518-534.
Abstract   PDF (255KB)

The aim of this article is to analyze Hegel’s famous transition from being to nothing in the opening of the Science of Logic, to outline a variety of interpretations from commentators, and to defend what I call the “indirect apophatic interpretation” as support for the conclusion that Hegel is an ambiguously apophatic thinker. One benefit of the “indirect apophatic interpretation” is that it leads to a reassessment of Hegel’s conception of totality. The prevailing understanding of “totality” as exclusionary exhaustion, completion, and finitude has often been attributed to Hegel’s thought. But the “indirect apophatic interpretation” of the transition from being to nothing that I defend prepares the way for an alternative reading of totality in his work: not as the exhaustion of all positive content, but as the coincidence of being and nothing, as the contradiction A is -A, and as the exhaustion of form and content by way of a dialectic with the apophatic.

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Hegel after Nancy: Sensibility, Singularity, and the Problem of the x
Emilia Angelova
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 535-553.
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This article takes up two models of punishment in Hegel, one that is underdeveloped in the Phenomenology of Spirit and one more fully developed in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Both models focus on the notions of law and the legality of personhood. I argue that beyond this, they share a common concept of singularity as an excess over and above the ethical-political order. This concept opens up to what Jean-Luc Nancy calls the “event” of freedom in Hegel. This point about excess lets me deploy Lacan and then Nancy to underscore how, for Hegel, problems concerning the question “what is law?” might be a clue as to how the bad infinite is opposed to the good or “actual” infinite. I take this up in the context of Hegel’s theory of “value,” including the value of the “good.” Altogether this analysis reveals that Hegel’s method allows for a more complex humanism than is typically understood, since his points about law and punishment lead to a more radicalized notion of intentionality and forgiveness than usually derived from the logic of recognition.

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Kant’s, Hegel’s and Cousin’s Perceptions of China and Non-European Cultures: Racialism, Historicism and Universalism, and the Methodology of Comparative Philosophy
Jean-Yves Heurtebise
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 554-573.
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The aim of this paper is to discuss some assumptions of comparative philosophy by providing a critical analysis of Hegel’s perception of China and other non-European cultures in relation to Kant’s anthropological works. The main assumption of comparative philosophy is that the temporal-cognitive distance between Plato and Diderot is irrelevant compared to the geographic-cultural distance between Plato and Confucius or Diderot and Dai Zhen. This paper will demonstrate that this culturalist assumption is also a legacy of Hegel’s history of philosophy, whose anthropological basis and historicist framework needs to be deconstructed. Finally, this paper will make reference to Victor Cousin, the French philosopher who introduced German philosophy in France, to show how this thinker’s adaptation of Hegel’s history of philosophy allows us to propose a more inclusive conception of the value of non-European cultures’ intellectual productions and to elaborate, on this basis, a radically non-culturalist framework for comparative philosophy.

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Hegel, Schelling and Laozi on Nothingness
Kwok Kui Wong
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 574-584.
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This article looks at Hegel’s and Schelling’s discussions of Laozi’s wu 無 in History of Philosophy and Philosophy of Mythology respectively, and then relates them back to those two Western thinkers’ own understandings of the concept of nothingness. This exploration demonstrates that while Hegel sees nothingness more as a logical concept not different from being, Schelling equates Laozi’s wu with Nichtseiende of the first potency in his theory of the potencies of God. This article will further put the question in perspective by examining or speculating how the three philosophers would address the problem of ex nihilo nihil fit. Finally, it will highlight the striking similarity between the views of Schelling and Laozi regarding the role of the will or desire (yu 欲), in our knowledge about nothingness: While Schelling’s first potency, Nichtseiende, is a “not willing will,” the second potency is “willing” and therefore the beginning of existence. Laozi, on the other hand, believes that without desire we can discern the ultimate mystery, while with desire we can only see the outer fringe of things. However, Laozi differs from Schelling in that the latter’s willing God is absent in his philosophy.

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Annihilating the Nothing: Hegel and Nishitani on The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism
Gregory S. Moss
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 585-615.
Abstract   PDF (429KB)

In Nishitani’s The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism, Nishitani explores, among other related topics, the history of the problem of Nihilism in the West. Conspicuously absent from Nishitani’s historical analysis is the thought of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, who famously raised the charge of Nihilism against Fichte’s philosophy in 1799. As is evident from a variety of Hegel’s texts, Hegel explicitly responds to Jacobi’s charge against Speculative Idealism and designs his philosophy in part as a response to Jacobi’s charge of Nihilism. On the one hand, Nishitani fails to appreciate Hegel’s philosophy as a response to the problem of Nihilism because he has an incomplete possession of the history of the problem. On the other hand, Nishitani’s critique of Hegel begs the question. Nishitani’s dogmatic rejection of Hegel appears to be grounded in his methodological approach to the philosophy of history, which assumes the falsehood of Hegel’s account. Jacobi’s charge against Speculative Idealism consists in the Idealist’s failure to account for the very existence of the world. On his view, philosophy is Nihilism because the world disappears completely from philosophical speculation. Hegel attempts to overcome this charge of Nihilism by re-thinking the structure and content of reason.

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He Lin and German Philosophy in the Zhanguoce School: An Idealist Philosopher on History and Cultural Reform
Tung Tin Wong
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 616-633.
Abstract   PDF (378KB)

The Zhanguoce School emerged in 1940 and actively responded to the crisis caused by the Sino-Japanese War. The cultural morphology of Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) inspired most of the leading Zhanguoce scholars to reflect on the culture, history, and status quo of China. They believed that China was suffering from a total war with world superpowers and that it was in a new Warring States epoch; they thus advocated radical cultural reform as a necessary condition for victory and invoked Nietzschean philosophy to champion heroism and power. However, He Lin 賀麟 (1902–92), a philosopher in this school, looked to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814) for different theories of cultural reform and history. This article examines He’s integration of the philosophies of Hegel and Fichte into his cultural and historical thought. Based on the Hegelian notion of Spirit, He rethought the nature of culture and the relationship between Chinese and Western cultures; he also interpreted history by comparing the historical theories of Hegel and Wang Fuzhi 王夫之 (1619–92). Furthermore, He investigated individual realization with reference to Fichte and repudiated radical heroism.

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Forty Years’ Study of Chinese Philosophy
LI Cunshan
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 634-650.
Abstract   PDF (333KB)

Since China’s reform and opening up in 1978, the study of Chinese philosophy has proceeded together with the times, not only making tremendous academic progress, but also serving as an important part of research on Chinese culture that undertakes the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and Chinese culture. This essay gives a brief review of the study of Chinese philosophy over the last forty years with particular attention to five aspects, namely the new horizons in the study of Chinese philosophy, the characteristics of Chinese philosophy, the comparison between Chinese and Western philosophy that also involves the “legitimacy” of the former, the relevance of Chinese philosophy for contemporary times, and the basic methodologies of Chinese philosophy.

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Chinese Philosophy of Value over the Past Four Decades
WU Xiangdong
Front. Philos. China. 2018, 13 (4): 651-661.
Abstract   PDF (296KB)

Chinese philosophy of value arose from reflection on the Cultural Revolution and an inherent need amidst the implementation of reform and opening up, and it was directly triggered by extensive discussions about the standard of truth. The development of the philosophy of value over the past forty years shifted from value to evaluation before moving on to the research topics of values, in particular core socialist values. Currently, its major characteristics are the unity of theoretical logic and practical logic, the mutual interaction between and enhancement of the study of the philosophy of value and research on Marxist philosophy, and exchanges and dialogues with foreign philosophies of value. Its main achievements in the philosophy of value include the implementation of a subjective paradigm based on the theory of practice and the theoretical construction and clarification of core socialist values. Future directions for the development of the philosophy of value include improving subjective interpretation on the basis of the theory of practice, deeply exploring value concepts and value principles in the new form of civilization, and bringing the philosophy of value into interaction with multidisciplinary research.

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