Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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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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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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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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Edmund Husserl’s Political Praxis and Theoretical Reflections during World War I
NI Liangkang
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (2): 241-253.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0020-3
Abstract   PDF (237KB)

Husserl the philosopher personally experienced World War I breaking out 100 years ago. Like most German and Austrian commoners, at the initial stage of the war, Husserl was extremely passionate for it. After undergoing the cruelty of war and losing many relatives and friends, he was once enmeshed in extreme confusion and disappointment, albeit he still made every effort to offer spiritual and ethical support to the soldiers at the front. Along with the proceeding of the war, he soon changed his views with respect to this war and confessed that more and deeper reflections were needed to address issues about problems of nationality, super-national ethics and about problems of wars relevant to them. He made philosophical theoretical reflections with regard to this war after it ended, and presented, eventually, requirements for himself: to be satisfied with taking the possibility of the practical activities of philosophy as the topic of philosophical theoretical study and to give up, in drastic fashion, the intention in such philosophical practices as providing political proposals and exerting political influences, “living purely as a scientific philosopher.”

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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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On Kripke’s Dogmatism Paradox: A Logical Dynamical Analysis
XU Zhaoqing
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (2): 298-310.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0022-1
Abstract   PDF (270KB)

As a byproduct of solving the surprise-exam paradox, Saul Kripke formulates a “dogmatism paradox” which seems to show that knowledge entails dogmatism. In this paper, the author analyzes the nature of the dogmatism paradox from a logical dynamical perspective. The author suggests that the dogmatism paradox is better understood as a paradox of knowledge attribution rather than of knowledge. Therefore, the dogmatism paradox could be solved without sacrificing the principle of epistemic closure. Based on a famous version of relevant alternatives theory, the author formalizes a logic of knowledge attribution in the style of logical dynamics, namely, public retraction logic, and analyzes how knowledge attributions are retracted with the expansion of relevant alternatives.

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The Tianzhu Shilu Revisited: China’s First Window into Western Scholasticism
Daniel Canaris
Front. Philos. China    2019, 14 (2): 201-225.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0013-7
Abstract   PDF (406KB)

On 29 September 1584, the first Catholic catechism was printed in China under the title The True Record of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shilu 天主實錄). Written primarily by the Jesuit missionary Michele Ruggieri (1543–1607) with the assistance of at least two other Jesuits and Chinese interpreters, the catechism inaugurated the rich cultural exchange between China and Europe for which the Jesuit China mission would be renown. Despite the pioneering role of this catechism, it has been viewed for the most part by posterity as a pale forerunner of the later catechism by Ruggieri’s confrère, Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義). This article attempts to skirt the anachronistic comparison with Ricci’s Tianzhu Shiyi by proposing the Tianzhu Shilu as an autonomous text expressive of a cogent strategy for tailoring Western scholasticism to the contingencies of the Chinese cultural context.

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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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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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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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What Can Artificial Intelligence Learn from Wittgenstein’s On Certainty?
XU Yingjin
Front. Philos. China    2014, 9 (3): 441-462.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-003-014-0037-9
Abstract   PDF (383KB)

Meta-philosophically speaking, the philosophy of artificial intelligence (AI) is intended not only to explore the theoretical possibility of building “thinking machines,” but also to reveal philosophical implications of specific AI approaches. Wittgenstein’s comments on the analytic/empirical dichotomy may offer inspirations for AI in the second sense. According to his “river metaphor” in On Certainty, the analytic/empirical boundary should be delimited in a way sensitive to specific contexts of practical reasoning. His proposal seems to suggest that any cognitive modeling project needs to render the system context-sensitive by avoiding representing large amounts of truisms in its cognitive processes, otherwise neither representational compactness nor computational efficiency can be achieved. In this article, different AI approaches (like the Common Sense Law of Inertia approach, the Bayesian approach and the connectionist approach) will be critically evaluated under the afore-mentioned Wittgensteinian criteria, followed by the author’s own constructive suggestion on what AI needs to try to do in the near future.

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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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Motivation to Act in Confucianism and Christianity: In Matteo Ricci’s The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義)
Michele Ferrero
Front. Philos. China    2019, 14 (2): 226-247.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0014-4
Abstract   PDF (287KB)

The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義) is a Chinese text of the 17th century written by the Italian sinologist and missionary Matteo Ricci. It contains, among other topics, a discussion between a Confucian scholar and a Christian about the motivation to act. For Confucianism a good action should be performed for its own sake, without any thought of future reward. For Christianity it seems that good actions are performed in order to go to Heaven. Ricci argues that human actions are complex. The ultimate motivation for goodness comes from a relation with God. The Confucian scholar claims that actually not all actions need a motive. Sometimes things “just happen.” Also, a good tradition can move people to behave properly. Dealing with topics such as soul, eternal life, causes, descendants, tradition, happiness and proper behavior, this dialogue offers a great insight of the meeting of two great traditions: Confucianism and Christianity.

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Revelation or Reason? Two Opposing Interpretations of the Confucian Classics during the Chinese Rites Controversy
WANG Niecai
Front. Philos. China    2019, 14 (2): 284-302.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0017-5
Abstract   PDF (408KB)

The Four Books were a frequent point of reference in publications during the Chinese Rites Controversy. In the Tian Ru Yin (1664), the Franciscan Antonio de Santa María Caballero (1602–69) used an allegorical approach, interpreting the true meaning of the Chinese Classics as Christian revelation while rejecting the traditional reading of the Confucian Classics. On the contrary, the Jesuits in the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687) used a rationalistic approach, harmonizing Western intellectualism with Confucianism. We shall show how these two interpretations are rooted in different theological traditions, leading the two sides to take opposite stances in the Chinese Rites Controversy.

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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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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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What the “Failure” of Aristotelian Logic in Seventeenth Century China Teaches Us Today: A Case Study of the Mingli Tan
Thierry Meynard
Front. Philos. China    2019, 14 (2): 248-263.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0015-1
Abstract   PDF (371KB)

The Mingli Tan is recognized as the first Chinese-language treatise introducing Western logic in China. First published in the final years of the Ming dynasty, the work was presented to Emperor Kangxi in 1683. Despite its sophisticated thought and innovation, the work failed to gain support among intellectuals and court officials. By analyzing the objectives of the Mingli Tan in tandem with its companion work, the Coimbra commentary, this paper explores some of the important philosophical, pedagogical, and historical reasons that can help to explain this failure. Through this historical failure, we can gain some insights about the nature of logic and its current position in China.

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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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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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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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The De of Levinas: Cultivating the Heart-Mind of Radical Passivity
Leah Kalmanson,Sarah Mattice
Front. Philos. China    2015, 10 (1): 113-129.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0007-2
Abstract   PDF (292KB)

This essay explores the early Chinese text Guanzi to address the question of ethical responsibility in the work of Emmanuel Levinas. We begin with the premise that being responsive to the other, feeling the impossibility of renouncing ethical obligation, and experiencing the basic moral asymmetry at the heart of Levinas’s project all rely on the welcome openness of the subject that Levinas describes as the subject’s “radical passivity.” However, his emphasis on infinite responsibility, coupled with the theme of radical passivity, gives the problematic impression that ethics amounts to a never-ending to-do list for the other, and certainly this is not what Levinas means. We turn to the Guanzi, which recommends that the ethically efficacious sage-prince must cultivate a state of passive stillness and inner vacuity. Only because the sage-prince maintains this deferential heart-mind is he freely open and responsive to others. Here the sage-prince looks strikingly like a good Levinasian: He is deferential, sensitive to context, and hyper-aware of the limits of his own knowledge. The Guanzi goes on to describe specific practices the sage-prince can employ to cultivate his ethical prowess, including practices of meditation and gentle physical exercises. Taking this insight into Levinas’s context, we suggest that such practices of self-regulation are necessary to enable effective responsiveness to the other. From this perspective, responsibility is “infinite” not because I am perpetually beholden to the other’s whims, but because I am perpetually accountable for calming and clearing my own mind of the unstable emotions, selfish desires, and intellectual machinations that prevent the welcome openness of radical passivity.

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The Limits of a Confrontational Approach: Fabian Fukansai’s Critiques of Neo-Confucianism and Christianity
Yoshimi Orii
Front. Philos. China    2019, 14 (2): 181-200.   https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0012-0
Abstract   PDF (403KB)

This paper analyzes the critique of Neo-Confucianism by the Japanese Jesuit Brother Fabian Fukansai (c. 1565–1621) in the Myōtei Dialogues (Myōtei Mondō 妙貞問答) (1605), as well as Fabian’s later critique of Christianity. It clarifies the author’s understanding of Neo-Confucian theory and his apology for Christianity by analyzing his explanation of the Great Ultimate (Tai’kyoku/Taiji 太極) and Principle (ri/li 理), which Fabian sees as nothing but an expression of Buddhist monistic mentalism. It also demonstrates that his explanations of the Great Ultimate and Principle have a crucial flaw: they do not sufficiently explain Zhu Xi’s metaphysics, which tried to make the immanent and transcendental characteristics of the Great Ultimate and Principle compatible. This is because Fabian addresses only the elements of “local” religions including Neo-Confucianism with novel keywords that support the framework of Christian Creationism and the Anima Rationalis theory. However, his later work Deus Destroyed (Ha Daius 破提宇子), written after he had rejected Christianity, overturned his former claim by accepting the Neo-Confucian concept of Principle. Fabian’s works are a historical example showing the potential limits of a confrontational approach toward other religions.

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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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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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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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