Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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Water, Plant, Light, and Mirror: On the Root Metaphors of the Heart-Mind in Wang Yangming’s Thought
BAO Yongling
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (1): 95-112.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0006-5
Abstract   PDF (311KB)

Clarifying Wang Yangming’s thought through a study of his root metaphors of heart-mind is an important step toward explaining his further concepts of the human world. Along with the root metaphors of water and mirror, the metaphors of plant and light work together for Wang to form a coherent theoretical and practical system of xin (heart-mind). This method is also a good way to unravel the various theories of the “three teachings” that are intermingled in his thinking. By using this methodology Wang’s attempts to harmonize several ancient traditions of heart-mind that appear as possibly polarized to modern readers, are illuminated (though they did not appear contradictory to the Neo-Confucians).

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An Eco-Ethical Interpretation of Confucian Tianren Heyi
YAO Xinzhong
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (4): 570-585.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0047-6
Abstract   PDF (310KB)

Opposed to a commonly held interpretation that Confucian discourse regarding tianren heyi (天人合一) is simply a human-centred philosophical fusion of humanity and nature, this article argues that the Confucian discourse is in fact composed of two contradictory orientations, one ren-centred (roughly equivalent to “anthropocentric”) and the other tian-centred (“nature-centric” in a specific sense), which generally correspond to the two major camps of environmental philosophy in the West in the twentieth century. It will be further argued that the two orientations of the Confucian view have different yet related functions with regard to environmental protection and conservation: the tian-centred understanding establishes a metaphysical and religious framework for Confucian eco-ethical norms, in which ecological prohibitions and policies are built into the political and religious infrastructure, while the ren-centred orientation adds practical values and meanings to the ontological care of the human relation to the environment. In modern times, the two orientations of Confucian eco-ethics are under further development, moving away from being dualistic philosophies and converging on the eco-ethical way of life. Contemporary Confucians are investigating how the two traditional “orientations” can be unified as one holistic perspective which could provide theoretical and practical guidance for our understanding of the human position in the universe, the harmony between humans and nature, and the value of environmental protection and conservation.

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Toward a Confucian Notion of Human Dignity
WANG Xiaowei
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 7-28.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0002-4
Abstract   PDF (306KB)

This essay discusses the possibility of conceptualizing a Confucian notion of human dignity. Previous discussions on this topic have been either historical or reconstructive, the former discussing mainly how Confucianism considers dignity and the latter exploring the possibility of conceptualizing a Confucian human dignity as an alternative to Kant’s Menschenwürde. This essay focuses on mainly the latter effort. Specifically, I critically evaluate professor Ni Peimin’s celebrated attempt at reconstructing Confucian dignity in the context of Kant’s Menschenwürde, arguing that Ni’s work offers us novel and original insights on human dignity but fails to be coherent in several senses. On the other hand, Kant’s Menschenwürde may well lack motivation in particular circumstances, and gives no credit to moral efforts. Building upon this criticism, I further Ni’s discussion of the “four hearts” and propose a revised version of Confucian dignity.

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Confucian Moral Imagination and Ethics Education in Engineering
ZHU Qin
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 36-52.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0004-8
Abstract   PDF (214KB)

Developing moral imagination is a central yet challenging learning outcome for students in professional education programs for fields including engineering. This paper introduces theories of moral imagination in early Confucian ethical thought and explores what implications can be drawn from these theories for engineering ethics and professional education. Rather than appealing to pre-determined principles, early Confucians advocated a moral particularism and argued that moral actors need to exercise their imaginations to discern diverse factors and constraints present in moral situations. They need to “extract” from moral situations possible reasons for certain actions. Texts such as the Analects should be read as manuals or logs of decision-making rather than as prescriptive guidance or descriptive anecdotes. The moral actions we take in different situations are influenced by the special roles we play in these situations. The nature of a particular role relationship often evokes feelings and expectations characteristic of that relationship. Cultivating and educating our imaginations allows us to draw on diverse human abilities, assess multiple moral strategies, and identify the most suitable (rather than simply calculating “the best”) option that helps to activate our moral selves and grow our relationships with others. Early Confucians proposed a variety of methods for developing moral imaginative capabilities including reflective observation of social interactions, moral thought experiments, analogical extension of familial relations, and the “as-if” rituals. This paper ultimately considers the possible implications of these theories for teaching and learning ethical conduct in engineering, given the increasing interest of the engineering profession in humanitarian engineering and cross-cultural collaboration and the two fields of engineering practice often encompass incomplete knowledge and diverse values.

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Wittgenstein’s Peculiar Use of “Internal Relation” in Aspect-Seeing
ZHANG Ligeng
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 143-159.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0009-3
Abstract   PDF (274KB)

“Internal relation” is a significant term in both Wittgenstein’s early and later philosophy. The term is used in relation to many problems, including our topic here, “aspect-seeing.” Some scholars have attempted to present a persuasive interpretation of this terminology; however, Wittgenstein’s remarks on “aspect-seeing” somehow thwart their approaches. The obstacle lies in the relata involved: Which terms are connected by an internal relation in the perception of an aspect? In this paper, I review the existing interpretations and present two proposals, one of which is conservative and the other slightly more radical. I argue that Wittgenstein makes divergent use of the distinction between “internal/external relations,” and that this may reveal the potential ambiguities of the words “internal” and “relation.”

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Joining the Transformation of Nature—The Post-Natural and Confucian Perspective on Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene
TENG Fei
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 53-72.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0005-5
Abstract   PDF (362KB)

The emergence of the Anthropocene creates a new set of conditions for understanding the relationship between human power and the natural world. These conditions include an increasingly humanized and de-natured natural world, and greater responsibilities of stewardship for human beings. In current literature, there are diverse views on the meaning of the Anthropocene and the role of modern technology in future earth stewardship. Post-natural thought regards the Anthropocene as representing the end of nature, and thus appeals to disenchantment with respect to the idea that nature is an external moral norm. Although this approach correctly addresses the significance of locality and the mutuality between humans and the environment, it fails to provide us with adequate normative boundaries for preventing the endless artificialization of nature. Alternatively, this article defends the position that Confucianism is a more plausible philosophical ground for earth stewardship in the context of the Anthropocene. The Confucian approach is an inclusive humanism which is established on the cosmological ideal of realising the virtue of shengsheng 生生 (life generation) in all beings. Moreover, Confucian ethics draw much attention to the self-regulation of human beings as virtuous persons. This is indeed what is needed in the age of the Anthropocene.

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A Neo-Confucian Criticism of Daoism: Wang Fuzhi’s Contradictory Remarks on the Laozi
TAN Mingran
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 93-121.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0007-9
Abstract   PDF (379KB)

Based on Zhu Xi’s statement that Laozi’s teachings were very cruel, Wang Fuzhi condemned Laozi as a crafty, petty person in his Confucian commentaries. Yet, he had to understand the Laozi or Daodejing sympathetically when he commented on it in Laozi Yan老子衍 (Extended Commentary on the Laozi). As a result, he showed inconsistency in his criticism and evaluation of the author. Some scholars have noted this problem but have not shed ink analyzing it. This essay finds that Wang Fuzhi’s ambiguous attitude toward Laozi results from his Confucian prejudice against other schools and his failure to grasp the breadth and depth of Laozi’s thought. From the perspective of Heaven, Laozi promoted accommodation and non-interference in self-cultivation and governance, summed up by the maxim that “the sage manages affairs without deliberation, and spreads teachings without words.” In contrast, Wang Fuzhi stuck to the distinction between Confucianism and Daoism, and tried to use humanity and ritual propriety to supplement that which Heaven does not provide; as such, he criticized Laozi as crafty and irresponsible. Wang Fuzhi’s criticism neither hits the mark regarding Laozi’s weakness nor maintains a concordance with his earlier sympathetic appraisal in Laozi Yan; the reason for this is that Wang Fuzhi could not fully grasp Laozi’s thought from a Confucian and anthropocentric perspective.

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Somaesthetics and Chinese Philosophy: Between Unity and Pragmatist Pluralism
Richard Shusterman
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (2): 201-211.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0016-2
Abstract   PDF (264KB)

Responding to three articles in a symposium dedicated to my research in somaesthetics, this paper explores a variety of themes connecting my theories with classical Chinese philosophy. The symposium topics discussed here range from the ontology of body-mind and world to the ethics of somaesthetic self-cultivation, and then to the somaesthetic meanings of our practices of erotics and of eating. The paper shows how the pragmatist orientation of somaesthetics reconciles values of unity with those of difference and how key ideas of somaesthetics intersect, in different ways, with both Confucian and Daoist thought.

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From Assessment to Design: What Is Really Needed in Technology Accompaniment to Achieve Subject Constitution?
JIA Lumeng, HUNG Ching
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 73-92.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0006-2
Abstract   PDF (247KB)

Based on the argument that technologies mediate human experience and praxis, the idea of technology accompaniment has been suggested as an approach to developing human-tech relations. In light of this idea, this paper argues, firstly, that when technologies inevitably have moral relevance in influencing human perceptions and actions, the constitution of a moral subject has much to do with shaping technological mediation deliberately and creatively. While there is not always a direct connection between what humans know and what humans do, technological mediation can help to strengthen people’s motivation to do the right thing. Subsequently, we examine two approaches that have often been suggested for realizing subject-constitution-with-technology: one is Technology Assessment, and the other is Mediation Design. Although the former can equip people with knowledge about technological mediation, it is relatively weak when it comes to directly producing moral behavior. In contrast, the latter not only exerts a more direct impact on user behavior but may also improve people’s moral knowledge. Nonetheless, both approaches face the general challenge of moral education. As moral knowledge does not guarantee moral behavior, knowing facts and theories about technological mediation may not lead to subject constitution as a result of the development of the human-tech relationship. To overcome this difficulty, an extension of the latter approach is proposed. The design of meta-mediation has great potential to shift users’ attention to the aforementioned mediating effect of technology-in-use and, thereby, users’ subject constitution can be enabled.

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Aristotle, the Intellect, and Cognition
Thomas M. Robinson
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (2): 229-240.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0019-9
Abstract   PDF (243KB)

It is argued in this paper that the famous “Active Intellect” of De Anima 3.5 is not God, as Alexander of Aphrodisias held, but rather an unchanging, eternally cognizing Intellect which serves as the indispensable condition for the operation of human intellect. It is “at the door” for each individual, ready to flow in as a stream of light—a light which renders potential objects of cognition knowable, just as visible light makes potentially visible objects visible—from outside that door (thyrathen) any time it is opened. Its existence cannot serve, however, as a proof of the immortality of human intellect, since, being unchanging, it can never possess a feature of human intellect which is characterized by nothing if not change, and that is memory.

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Moral Psychology of Shame in Early Confucian Philosophy
Bongrae Seok
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (1): 21-57.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0003-4
Abstract   PDF (443KB)

In Western philosophy and psychology, shame is characterized as a self-critical emotion that is often contrasted with the similarly self-critical but morally active emotion of guilt. If shame is negative concern over endangered or threatened self-image (usually in front of others), guilt is autonomous moral awareness of one’s wrongdoings and reparative motivation to correct one’s moral misconduct. Recently, many psychologists have begun to discuss the moral significance of shame in their comparative studies of non-Western cultures. In this new approach, shame is characterized as a positive moral emotion and active motivation for self-reflection and self-cultivation. If shame is a positive and active moral emotion, what is its moral psychological nature? In this paper, I will analyze shame from the perspective of cultural psychology and early Confucian philosophy. Unlike many Western philosophers, Confucius and Mencius discuss shame as a form of moral excellence. In early Confucian texts, shame is not a reactive emotion of an endangered self but a moral disposition that supports a self-critical and self-transformative process of moral development.

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The Principle of Production and a Critique of Metaphysics: From the Perspective of Theory of Baudrillard Contractual Approach Based on Rawls’ Device of the “Original Position”
XIA Ying
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (2): 181-193.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0016-8
Abstract   PDF (248KB)

In this article, I discuss Baudrillard’s critique of metaphysics based on his work The Mirror of Production, in which he stresses the principle of production—i.e., dichotomy and derivation. In the development of classical German philosophy, the principle of production was speculatively established, first as Descartes’ cogito, then as Fichte’s Tathandlung, and finally as Hegel’s labor, and grew to be a major principle of modern metaphysics. At the article’s conclusion, the meaning of Symbolic Exchange—Baudrillard’s utopian condition lying beyond the principle of production—will be discussed.

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Russell’s Paradox of Predicates
Bernard Linsky
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (1): 149-165.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0009-2
Abstract   PDF (359KB)

Russell’s letter to Frege of June 16, 1902 contains the famous paradox of the class of all classes which are not members of themselves as well as a second paradox of the predicates that cannot be predicated of themselves. The latter paradox arises out of Russell’s theory of classes and class concepts in Principles of Mathematics.

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The Next American Revolution? Reflections on Gar Alperovitz, What Then Must We Do?
David Schweickart
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (3): 350-357.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0030-0
Abstract   PDF (257KB)

Marx is concerned with theory that not only interprets but also changes the world. A central issue is thus the transition from capitalism to communism, a topic rarely considered by critics of capitalism today. An important exception is Gar Alperovitz, who, although eschewing the word “communism,” argues that we need “a new system” and sketches a transition strategy for moving “beyond capitalism.” This paper elaborates and evaluates this strategy

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A Philosophical Analysis of the Concept of Crisis
WANG Tangjia
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (2): 254-267.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0021-0
Abstract   PDF (282KB)

In our times, philosophy has been suffering from a spiritual crisis that takes the forms of the crisis of culture, the crisis of meaning, and the crisis of way of life. As the soul of culture, philosophy should contribute valuable responses to the problems of our times. Thus understood, this paper intends to analyze the concept of crisis in a phenomenological approach. The concept of crisis is concerned with the philosophical themes of time and death, and the crises of our times are primarily the crises of life-meaning and the life-world. Drawing sources from Husserl and other phenomenologists, as well as experiences from Chinese culture, I argue that a philosophy of crisis should find its point of departure from the crisis of philosophy.

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Aristotle’s Immovable Movers: A Sketch
André Laks
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (2): 273-286.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0020-7
Abstract   PDF (282KB)

In keeping with a view that is explicitly formulated by Aristotle in his Motion of Animals, general kinetic principles must be specified according to the different types of movable entities existing in the universe. At issue, essentially, are the motions of the stars and the motions of animals. Whereas the cosmological immovable mover is the object of two complementary analyses (in Bk. VIII of Physics and in Chs. 6 and 7 of Bk. XII of Metaphysics), information on the immovability of the first mover responsible for animal motion is to be found in the psychological and psycho-physiological treatises (On the Soul, in Bk. I, Chs. 3 and 4, and in Bk. III, Ch. 10 and in Ch. 6 of the Motion of Animals). But it is also found in Ch. 7, Bk. XII of the Metaphysics, in the very context of the argument concerning the absolutely first immovable mover of the world. This suggests that the two types of motion, that of the stars and that of animals, however distinct the arguments about them are, rest on a single scheme, and maybe even on a common principle. This is liable to surprise us, as much as stars and animals appear to us to belong to heterogeneous orders of reality. But the situation is different for Aristotle, who, as attentive as he is to differences, tends nonetheless to conceive the stars as living things of a particular kind. This fact is the source of a series of difficulties that Aristotle generously left for his many commentators to solve. Aim of this text, which was initially directed to a larger audience, is to set some of these complex issues in both simple and up to date terms.

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How Is the Kantian or Confucian Metaphysics Applicable to Human Dignity—Response to Wang Xiaowei
NI Peimin
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 29-35.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0003-1
Abstract   PDF (242KB)

Using the opportunity of responding to Wang’s critiques, this short article clarifies a number of important points related to the topic of human dignity. It argues that, only in moving beyond his a priori reasoning by assuming humans to be rational agents can the Kantian theory of dignity be applied to actual humans; only in taking our moral potential as a recommended way of human self-identification can the is-ought dichotomy be resolved; only in respecting human dignity can punishment be justified; and only from its function in shaping our visions and attitudes can a teleological metaphysics be helpful.

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“Bodyheartminding” (Xin 心): Reconceiving the Inner Self and the Outer World in the Language of Holographic Focus and Field
Roger T. Ames
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (2): 167-180.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0013-1
Abstract   PDF (289KB)

In this essay, inspired by the somatic turn in philosophy initiated by Richard Shusterman, I want to invoke the language of classical Confucian philosophy to think through the best efforts of William James and John Dewey to escape the mind-body and nature-nurture dualisms—that is, to offer an alternative vocabulary that might lend further clarity to the revolutionary insights of James and Dewey by appealing to the processual categories of Chinese cosmology. What I will try to do first is to refocus the pragmatist’s explanation of the relationship between mind and body through the lens of a process Confucian cosmology. And then, to make the case for James and Dewey, I will return to the radical, imagistic language they invoke to try and make the argument that this processual, holistic understanding of “vital bodyminding” is in fact what they were trying to say all along.

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On the Double-Reference Character of “Hexagram” Names in the Yijing: Engaging Fregean&Kripkean Approaches to the Issue of How Reference Is Possible
MOU Bo
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (4): 523-537.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0044-5
Abstract   PDF (326KB)

This paper aims to examine the general issue of how reference is possible in philosophy of language through a case analysis of the “double reference” semantic-syntactic structure of ideographic hexagram (guaxiang 卦象) names in the Yijing text. I regard the case of the “hexagram” names as being quite representative of the “double-reference” semantic-syntactic structure of referring names. I thus explore how the general morals drawn from this account of “hexagram” names can engage two representative approaches, the Fregean and Kripkean ones, and contribute to our understanding and treatment of the issue of reference.

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Beyond a Theory of Human Nature: Towards an Alternative Interpretation of Mencius’ Ethics
Hektor K. T. Yan
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (3): 396-416.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0034-8
Abstract   PDF (342KB)

By following the Wittgensteinian view that the sense of an ethical term such as “nature” (xing 性) should be understood through an examination of its function in its actual philosophical context, this article takes a look at the notion of xing in the Mencius from an alternative perspective. Proceeding from this perspective, it re-examines the view that xing in the Mencius should be understood in biological terms. A discussion of xing in relation to the “Why be moral?” question follows. I then offer an alternative interpretation of Mencius’ ethics by focusing on the meaning of the ethical particulars. Contrary to common perception, I argue that Mencius’ theory of human nature (renxing 人 性) need not occupy a central place in his moral philosophy; the ultimate foundation of Mencius’ moral philosophy lies in the meaning or sense of morality. Through participating in concrete, ethical thinking and by paying attention to the ethical particulars, human beings develop their grasp of moral and ethical meaning.

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Castañeda’s Moral Theory and Globalization
Francesco Orilia
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 122-142.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-009-020-0008-6
Abstract   PDF (229KB)

This paper examines the moral theory presented by Castañeda in his 1974 book The Stucture of Morality and illustrates its usefulness in dealing with some intercultural phenomena concerning women and children rights which globalization has brought to the fore. In particular, Castañeda’s crucial distinction between moral codes and the moral ideal is highlighted. Moreover, the role that freedom and happiness play in his framework is discussed and further elaborated by appealing to Berlin’s distinction between negative and positive freedom and current empirical studies on happiness.

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Marx on Nature
James Swindal
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (3): 358-369.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0031-7
Abstract   PDF (233KB)

Ecological Marxists argue that Marx forged a view of nature compatible with more recent models of environmentalism. John Bellamy Foster argues that Marx ascribed an ecological value to nature by asserting a co-evolution between man and nature. James O’Connor presents a more nuanced view in which Marx at best defended a conservationist defense of nature. I argue that such ecological views of Marx tend to overlook his abandonment of an ontology of nature as a totality of relations among physical objects with respect to their interactions and mutual preservation and order. He followed Kant in reducing nature, or the physical world, effectively to a regulative notion, thus reducing its value to a simply a heuristic one for judgments about and actions towards objects. But he also radicalized this reduction by envisaging nature only as a material field of fungible and consumable things, such that each thing is a mere locus of energy or force that human labor cannot substantively perfect but only change to a function. Labor in this view creates new arrangements of natural things for a singular ultimate purpose: the formation of associations of free labor. I conclude that Marx’s thinking thus cannot be utilized to support an environmental philosophy, such as deep ecology or eco-socialism, that would posit any intrinsic value to nature.

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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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Adorno’s View of Life
LUO Songtao
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (3): 444-456.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0033-5
Abstract   PDF (264KB)

The aim of this article is to reflect on the dialectic of the individual’s life and death in terms of Adorno’s moral philosophy, specifically through a thorough reading of his Negative Dialectics and other key works on the subject. I hold that there are two aspects of the dialectic of life within the context of Adorno’s “nonidentity”: one involves exploring the false identification, due to the reification of modern society, of the individual’s life experience with her or his death experience, while the other involves preserving the dialectical and irreducible tension between the theoretical contemplation of life and of historical conditions, as well as specific social systems. Heidegger’s ontological philosophy concerning Dasein and Kant’s categorical imperative will also be discussed in order to fully understand Adorno’s moral philosophy and his idea of nonidentity. From my point of view, Adorno’s moral philosophy is the prime motivator of his unique concept of nonidentity, and has influenced contemporary political philosophical concepts such as biopolitics (cf. G. Agamben).

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Conceiving Possibility: Kierkegaard and Zhuangzi
XIE Wenyu
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (3): 381-395.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0033-1
Abstract   PDF (264KB)

This paper examines two notions of possibility conceived by Kierkegaard and Zhuangzi respectively. Kierkegaard conceives of it with appeals to the feeling of anxiety, while Zhuangzi deals with it in terms of a type of aesthetic feeling. Based on these distinctions, the paper goes further to explore two types of human existence as fostered by these two corresponding concepts of possibility. According to Kierkegaard, in order to maintain a connection with possibility, which would provide freedom to human existence, one must have faith in the redeemer bringing back possibility so that an individual human being might renew his or her choice ceaselessly. Zhuangzi, on the other hand, advises staying in the realm of nothingness and letting go of all things to avoid being trapped by the struggle of discerning between good and evil.

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Numeral Classifiers and the White Horse Paradox
Byeong-uk Yi
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (4): 498-522.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0043-8
Abstract   PDF (337KB)

This paper presents an interpretation of Gongsun Long’s white horse paradox. The Chinese sentence he uses to state his main thesis (Bai ma fei ma) has two potential readings: (a) The white horses are not horses. (b) The white horses are not the horses. Although (a) gives the usual and correct reading of the sentence, according to the interpretation, Gongsun Long takes it to state (b). He gives good arguments for (b) while taking them to establish (a) as well, for he fails to distinguish between the two different theses. In presenting this interpretation, the paper gives an account of the function of numeral classifiers and discusses the semantics of count nouns in languages with no grammatical number system, including classical Chinese and classifier languages (e.g., contemporary Chinese).

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The Physiology of Xin (Heart) in Chinese Political Argumentation: The Western Han Dynasty and the Pre-Imperial Legacy
Elisa Sabattini
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (1): 58-74.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0004-1
Abstract   PDF (368KB)

The term xin (心), usually translated as “mind,” “heart” or “heartmind,” is considered a major problématique in traditional Chinese philosophical discourse, and it is usually analized in conjunction with xing (性, human nature). Contemporary scholars consider xin—more or less uncontroversially—as a sort of container of emotions and feelings, or, as On-Cho Ng defines it, “the very home of volition, sentiments and intellect” (Ng 1999). This paper aims to further explore the impact of the physiology of heart (xin) rhetoric within political discourse during the early decades of the Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 9). To that end I will first analyze the importance of physiological vocabulary in political argumentation, focusing mainly on the importance of heart (xin), its central role as the ruler of the body, and on the analogy between the heart and the sovereign of the state. I will then analyze the use of the expressions unanimity and duplicity—literally, pitting one heart (yixin 一心) against two hearts (erxin 二心 or liangxin 兩心).

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Neo-Confucian Theory of Mind as a Discourse of the Infinite: The Lu-Wang School
ZHAO Dongming
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (1): 75-94.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0005-8
Abstract   PDF (303KB)

This paper is a second-order study of xinxue 心學 (the Neo-Confucian theory of mind from the Lu-Wang school). Having shown the difficulty of fitting the theory into philosophical or religious discourse, the paper will argue that it is more appropriate to see xinxue as a special variety of the “discourse of the infinite,” that is, discourse concerning the infinite, which will bring forth action. In this light, Lu Xiangshan 陸象山 and Wang Yangming’s 王陽明 theory on the internal experience of the unity of mind is to be seen less as description of mental life than as an effort to adhere to the spirit of Mencius: they insist on the unity of the internal experience of mind, without allowing its intensity to be reduced in the explanatory theory of lixue 理學 (theory of principles) espoused by Cheng Yi 程頤 and Zhu Xi 朱熹, and, in this way, strive to reaffirm Mencius’s proclamation about the goodness of human nature. More importantly, the discourse as a whole works to enhance the status of the sage as someone who embodies tianli 天理 (the highest moral principle of the universe). This mode of discourse has the performative force of bringing forth moral actions. The real subject of xinxue is not what Lu and Wang claim it to be, e.g. the essentially good human nature or the infinite moral mind. Rather, the subject of xinxue is that which reveals itself through a series of effortful discursive activities and in the moral practice thereby produced. The subject of xinxue that emerges from this continuous process of striving is a special subject even within the Confucian tradition, whose attention is directed mainly towards the internal experience of the unity of mind. This subject threatens to interrupt the intellectual as well as socio-political operations established by lixue, and therefore engenders a series of conflicts.

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