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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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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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A Cross-Cultural Reflection on Shusterman’s Suggestion of the “Transactional” Body
Eva Kit Wah Man
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (2): 181-191.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0014-8
Abstract   PDF (254KB)

This short article explores the meaning of Shusterman’s “transactional body,” derived from his statement that the will is not a purely mental affair that is independent of physical modality but is always an interaction with its environment. While he appreciates the Deweyan interactional model, he develops the “transactional mode,” which he implies should expand the body-mind unity to the level of social and cultural conditions. Shusterman finds similar integrations and transactions among the mental, psychophysical and physical levels in Asian philosophical traditions. This article conducts a comparative study between his theory and Mencius’ understanding of the body. Within the discussion, the analysis of aesthetic experience explicated by Dewey and Shusterman is reviewed as the link to the comparison.

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Ars Erotica and Ars Gastronomica in Shusterman’s Somaesthetics
Russell Pryba
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (2): 192-200.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0015-5
Abstract   PDF (253KB)

This paper explores the roles of the erotic and gastronomic arts in Richard Shusterman’s somaesthetics. By discussing the relationship between moral education and the cultivation of gustatory taste in classical Chinese philosophy, this paper suggests future avenues of research for somaesthetics that draw on the rich tradition of thinking about food and the body in Chinese philosophy.

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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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The Origin and Differentiation of the Theories of Human Nature in Pre-Qin China
GUO Yi
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (2): 212-238.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0017-9
Abstract   PDF (422KB)

In early China, views concerning human nature underwent significant development, with philosophers moving from seeing it as desire or instinct to seeing it as virtue or essence. Before Confucius’s time, human beings’ xing, or nature, was construed as desire and instinct, i.e., as a physical nature. The key problem faced by theorists of human nature at that time was how to manage nature with virtue, i.e., how to use virtue to both control and enrich nature. A later, wide-reaching development was the use of qi to explain human nature. Laozi began, taking de or virtue to be the internal essence of the human being; Confucius took de or virtue to be xing or nature. Following this development, the main current of the theory of human nature in the pre-Qin period divided into two branches. One, created by the later Confucius, inherited in part by Zisi, and developed by Mencius, took virtue as nature and insisted on the a priority of internal morality. The other branch, inherited in part by Zisi and developed by the author of Xing Zi Ming Chu and Xunzi, featured the development of the old tradition which took yu, or desire, as nature.

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Wang Fuzhi’s Interpretation of Spirit/Shen in His Annotation on the Zhuangzi
TAN Mingran
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (2): 239-254.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0018-6
Abstract   PDF (345KB)

This essay systematically explores the concept “spirit” (shen 神) in Wang Fuzhi’s Annotation on the Zhuangzi (Zhuangzi Jie 莊子解). Following Zhuangzi, Wang Fuzhi interprets spirit as a mass of vital force/jingqi, and regards spirit as the master of human life and human body. Through preserving one’s spirit, one will not only be able to preserve one’s body, but also keep all creatures immune from sickness and plague. This can be accomplished, since a well-preserved spirit will contribute harmonious and pure qi to the universe and make the whole universe more harmonious. In an effort to achieve this purpose, Wang Fuzhi proposes “forgetting all external things” and aiming for an empty and detached mind, on one hand, and asks a person to concentrate his spirit with a constant will, one the other hand. Once one’s spirit is well concentrated, one will be a spiritual person (shenren 神人), who will transcend life and death, fortune and misfortune, always living a leisurely and carefree life. One will also forget all cognitive distinctions and fully become one with the transformation of things and Heaven (tian 天). In this way, one’s spirit will achieve eternity, and fully realize the meaning of human life.

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Goblet Words and Indeterminacy:A Writing Style that Is Free of Commitment
Wai Wai Chiu
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (2): 255-272.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0019-3
Abstract   PDF (432KB)

The Zhuangzi is a collection of ancient Chinese anecdotes and fables that serves as a foundational Daoist text. The style in which it is written is significant because it obscures rather than reveals the text’s philosophic positions. If the text cannot be translated into plain language while preserving its content, as the Mozi or the Mencius generally can be, then the writing style is not merely rhetorical. The style is itself indispensable to the content. In this study, I analyse a linguistic device mentioned in the Zhuangzi and use it to reflect the text’s writing style—namely, “goblet words” (zhi yan 巵言). I argue that various logical forms of goblet words defy the act of fixing a definite answer in any conceptual distinction or disputation. The forms, which include dilemmatic questions, oxymora and double denial, all serve to preserve indeterminacy. Reading goblet words may affect readers by making them more open-minded towards distinctions. However, readers cannot ascertain that the text’s authors produced this effect intentionally. Therefore, the text may cause readers to be open-minded while the authors remain free of commitment.

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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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Leibniz and Clarke in Conflict: The Role of “Force” and the Nature of God’s Providence
WANG Xiaona
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (2): 287-297.  https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-004-015-0021-4
Abstract   PDF (223KB)

The intellectual background of the concept of force in the dispute between Leibniz and Clarke has not received enough scholarly attention. Vailati’s monograph, which is the most important study of the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, focuses on a non-theological dimension in terms of the concept of force in this debate. Based on this perspective, Vailati’s conclusion is that Clarke’s understanding of force was totally different from that of Newton. However, the historical context shows that this is not the case. Clarke’s concept of motive force bore a strong resemblance to that of Newton, according to which force was an active principle that had been endowed upon matter at the beginning of God’s creation. Furthermore, the close link between force, matter and God’s providence had a long tradition of debate between Cartesian and Gassendian philosophers since early modern times. The different concepts of force dividing Cartesian and Gassendian philosophers were actually related to, and conditioned by, their underlying fundamental theological differences. The concept of force in the Leibniz-Clarke controversy, accordingly, could be regarded as along the lines of the earlier disputes between Cartesian and Gassendian philosophers.

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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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