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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 9 Issue 4 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Numeral Classifiers and the White Horse Paradox
Byeong-uk Yi
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 498-522.
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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On the Double-Reference Character of “Hexagram” Names in the Yijing: Engaging Fregean&Kripkean Approaches to the Issue of How Reference Is Possible
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 523-537.
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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Ontogenesis and Phylogenesis in the Analysis of Chinese Classifiers: Remarks on Philosophical Method
Marshall D. Willman
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 538-554.
Abstract   PDF (287KB)

Philosophical analysis is commonly assumed to involve decomposing the meaning of a sentence or an expression into a set of conceptually basic constituent parts. This essay challenges this traditional view by examining the potential semantic roles that classifier phrases play in Chinese. It is suggested that the conceptual resources necessary for justifying claims about the semantical status of natural language classifier phrases should be informed in part by methods that accommodate ontogenic and evolutionary contexts. Evidence is provided for the view that many Chinese classifiers (but not all) are features regimented in the grammar of Chinese that have no functional role in normal adult communication, but which play an ontogenetic role in the child’s development of linguistic competency. Furthermore, it is suggested that this ontogenetic role has features in common with the phylogenetic processes by which Chinese or its classical variants came about, as a later product of mechanisms that evolved in the species in accordance with varying demands for successful communication.

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On the Constitution and the True Aim of “The Joy of Heaven” and “Non-Speech”: A Reinterpretation of the Debate at the Dam over the Hao River
CHU Zhaohua
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 555-569.
Abstract   PDF (265KB)

The essay starts by questioning how the debate at the dam over the Hao River between Zhuang Zi and Hui Zi arose. It describes the source of ideas that led Zhuang Zi to speak on the enjoyment of the fish (yuzhile 鱼之乐) and points out that the meaning of the debate rests in bringing about the emergence of the true subject of “enjoyment.” It highlights this meaning by analyzing the essential content and value orientation of Zhuang Zi’s ideas on the joy of heaven (tian le 天乐) and perfect enjoyment (zhile 至乐). Following up on this thread, the essay goes further to analyze the true meaning of Zhuang Zi’s theory concerning the “great speech” of “non-speaking.” This essay holds that the debate is a parable, an external representation that unfolds an internal tension between two different levels contained within Zhuang Zi’s thought, rather than simply a debate between these two thinkers.

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An Eco-Ethical Interpretation of Confucian Tianren Heyi
YAO Xinzhong
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 570-585.
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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Environmental Ethics and Linkola’s Ecofascism: An Ethics Beyond Humanism
Evangelos D. Protopapadakis
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 586-601.
Abstract   PDF (258KB)

Ecofascism as a tradition in Environmental Ethics seems to burgeoning with potential. The roots of Ecofascism can be traced back to the German Romantic School, to the Wagnerian narration of the Nibelungen saga, to the works of Fichte and Herder and, finally, to the so-called v?lkisch movement. Those who take pride in describing themselves as ecofascists grosso modo tend to prioritize the moral value of the ecosphere, while, at the same time, they almost entirely devalue species and individuals. Additionally, these ecofascists are eager to reject democracy, the idea of progress in its entirety, as well as industrialization and urbanization. They also seem to be hostile towards individual autonomy and free will. In this short essay I will present and discuss Kaarlo Pentti Linkola’s approach to environmental ethics, one that could be well described as the epitome of Ecofascism. I will argue that his arguments are neither sound nor documented, and I will conclude that Linkola’s overall approach is, in my view, contrary to the purpose as well as to the very essence of morality.

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Li Zehou and Moritz Schlick on the Roots of Beauty
Jim Shelton
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 602-614.
Abstract   PDF (220KB)

Beginning from the Enlightenment view that beauty or art is “useless,” the attempts to explain how aesthetic experience and judgment are possible presented by Moritz Schlick and Li Zehou are examined, compared and contrasted. The paper treats three main subjects, the anthropological origins of beauty, the origins of aesthetic judgments and the problem of the purpose or function of beauty or aesthetic experience. In the first—the historical-causal roots of beauty—the problem discussed is how to account for aesthetics in light of the practical needs and pursuits of human beings. For Schlick, the problem is couched in terms of how aesthetic experience can be made consistent with natural selection. The second main subject—the philosophical roots of beauty—is a discussion of the origin in the sense of justification of aesthetic judgments. And the third examines the problem of assigning some purpose to aesthetic feelings and attitudes. An apparent contrast is made, and perhaps resolved, between the respective views of Schlick and Li.

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The Encounter of Christianity and Daoism in Philippe Couplet’s Confucius Sinarum Philosophus
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 615-624.
Abstract   PDF (255KB)

The book Confucius Sinarum Philosophus1, published by the Jesuit Philippe Couplet in 1687, aimed at spreading Confucian thought and the Confucian classics in Europe. Its publication caused an enormous sensation and was highly valued by the King of France, Louis XIV. The description of Chinese geography, history, and religions, including three important Latin translations of Confucian works (namely, Ta hio-Liber Primus: Scientiae Sinicae [Daxue], Liber Secundus: Chum yum [Zhongyong], and Liber Tertius: Lun Yu [Lunyu]), in addition to some missionary works of the Jesuits, was of great value for Europe at the time. Through the publication of this work, Confucianism was successfully introduced into Europe and treated as an eastern counterpart of the European Renaissance. The book became a fundamental source for Europeans trying to understand Chinese culture in the 17th century. In order to evangelize in China, the Jesuits made an effort to accommodate Confucian thought within Catholicism. As part of this strategy, Daoism and Buddhism were marginalized and treated as false philosophies. In spite of this, Philippe Couplet described Daoism in his Brevis Notitia Sectae: Li lao kiun Philosophi. Although his understanding of Daoism was not far from that of Matteo Ricci, Couplet, however, did recognize Lao Zi as a philosopher, something which Ricci never did. This paper focuses on Couplet’s description of Daoism as a means of investigating the first image of Daoism transmitted to Europe in the 17th century

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Chenyang Li, The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony
Stephen C. Angle
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (4): 625-628.
Abstract   PDF (146KB)
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11 articles