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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 8 Issue 4 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Introduction: Study Plato in China
WANG Xiaochao
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 527-529.
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Plato the Democrat? Some Thoughts on the Politics of the Laws
Thomas M. Robinson
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 530-545.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (252KB)

In the Laws (which Plato calls his “second-best society”) Plato asserts that the best attainable form of society will combine the better features of autocracy and democracy. The democracy will be one where aidos (“respect”) will be a prominent feature, as will be the rule of laws underpinned by the belief that God, not man, is the measure of all things. Unlike in the Republic, the accumulation of wealth and property will be the right of all citizens, including rulers. But it will operate under strict limits: a maximum of four quanta of property will be allowed by any citizen, while a minimum of one (which will provide a good life though perhaps not a rich one) will be guaranteed. The affinity of such a view with that of John Rawls is striking. The article ends with a brief interview between the reader and Plato, in which some of the above issues are discussed.

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Plato on Necessity and Disorder
Olof Pettersson
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 546-565.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (329KB)

In the Timaeus, Plato makes a distinction between reason and necessity. This distinction is often accounted for as a distinction between two types of causation: purpose oriented causation and mechanistic causation. While reason is associated with the soul and taken to bring about its effects with the good and the beautiful as the end, necessity is understood in terms of a set of natural laws pertaining to material things. In this paper I shall suggest that there are reasons to reconsider the latter part of this account and argue for a non-mechanistic understanding of necessity. I will first outline how the notion of necessity is introduced in the dialogue. Next I will show how a mechanistic account of necessity fails to capture Plato’s purpose of treating it as a causal factor; and, finally, I will argue that this purpose is better understood as an attempt, on Plato’s part, to account for the causal origin of disorder and irrationality, an origin articulated in terms of a pre-cosmic situation and the notoriously difficult notion of the third kind.

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Plato’s Attempts at Defining Sophistry
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 566-584.
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In the Sophist, Plato offers seven definitions of a sophist. In this paper I will consider the relationship between these definitions, and examine how the first six definitions contribute to the final definition, and how the final definition, in turn, incorporates elements of the first six. Through this examination, we can also have a better grasp of Plato’s method of division, and Plato’s aporetic approach to philosophy.

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Principle, Knowledge, and Personality: Some Reflections on “the Good” according to Plato
CHEN Yuehua
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 585-606.
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This paper focuses on Plato’s “Form of the Good,” or “the Good,” with an interest in Plato’s riddle that “the Good is the One.” Unlike the traditional approach to explaining the Good in the Republic as “rational order” or a unity of Forms, this paper argues that the Good is the unique transcendent principle, like the apex of a hierarchy, but does not encompass the whole structure. According to its Ontological position, its multiple facets (functions) include the Ontological foundation of uniting “to be” and “ought to be,” the ultimate source of knowledge, and the Ideal goal of uniting the common good and individual goods. The practical dimension of the Good is highlighted in exploring the lifelong study of the Philosopher-Kings and their political personality. It is also pointed out that “sudden enlightenment” plays an important role in their path toward the Good. Finally, this paper proposes that the Good should be the a priori beginning of education and the end of the practice of virtues in the community.

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Sign, Image and Language in The Book of Changes (Yijing 易经)
Heinrich Geiger
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 607-623.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (285KB)

It is challenging to estimate the degree to which the system of the Trigrams and Hexagrams in The Book of Changes (Yijing) had an impact on the whole history of Chinese thought. The universal paradigm from which it was derived formed the basis of a semiotic theory of evolution which, because of structural analogies, was applied to all fields and aspects of human life where decision making and action in correspondence with a cosmic principle was required. To achieve that goal, countless commentaries on and interpretations of the Yijing have been written. They can be divided into two schools. The first used the Yijing as a book for divination, in combination with manifestations of the universe and nature. The second interpreted it with a philosophical background, making it part of the tradition of Confucian thought. Modern scholars have also contributed some new approaches to the Yijing. My paper is based on the assumption that the Trigrams and Hexagrams of the Yijing cannot be understood in a purely representational way. They do not represent things apart from their relation to human needs or consciousness. Because of the co-determination of text and reader as a task without determinate end-points, it proves to be a unique case of effective-history. In the Yijing, there is no real line between culture and nature, sign/image/language and fact, the universe of semiosis and other universes. With its use of signs, images and language, the Yijing confirms that the universe of semiosis is the universe of heaven, earth and man. Against this background, my explanations will not only focus on the Trigrams and Hexagrams. My paper will also deal with the following topics: (1) interpenetration of linguistic meaning and objective reality and (2) the social nature of verbal or literary expression.

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Bodily Subjectivity, Way of Administration and Governance in the Axial Age
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 624-640.
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The Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period were key eras in which the family-kingdom-state political structure handed down by the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties transformed into the more familiar four-dimensional political structure of body-family-kingdom-world. The most important of the transformations was the independence of the body. The collapse of the feudal politico-religious structure dominated by emperors, lords and the senior officials allowed the social body to become independent of the overall structure of family-kingdom-world and became a structural element itself. As well, the teaching of Confucian ren 仁 (humanity) expanded the independence of the body to a moral and spiritual level, thus providing another agent for the politico-religious structure of body-family-kingdom-world. The emergence of this new agent provided another political agent “having no right to administer but the right to comment” outside the ruling group. As a result, the assumption that to “rectify” meant to “administer” was developed in the pre-Qin period. This became the Way of Administration, the ultimate meaning of which is to complete one’s human nature and to know destiny, which is the purpose of the Way of Governance. Subsequently, the Way of Administration and Way of Governance together formed one of the most significant political ideas in Chinese history.

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Effacements of Form
John Sallis
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 641-654.
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The theme of this essay is expressed in a line from the Dao De Jing: “The great image has no form.” The essay shows how this effacement, annulment, or withdrawal of form is realized in ancient Chinese painting (Song and Ming Dynasties) and in the conception of the natural elements to which much of this painting is related. Certain resonances with this effacement of form are identified in the way that recent Continental thought focuses on an effacement of form as it was determined in ancient Greek philosophy.

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Love and Identity: Unconditional Concern and Particularity
Cockburn David
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 655-669.
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Love for a person involves an idea of the other’s particularity, or “irreplaceability”: an idea that is linked with a fine grained attention to, and affection for, very specific features of the other. This attention is largely a consequence of—or manifestation of—my love, rather than its ground. What I see in the other is partly conditioned by an “unconditional” concern for her as an individual. A consideration of the importance of the face and of personal names in my interactions with another may bring into focus crucial aspects of the particularity and unconditionality that are characteristic of love.

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Knowledge, Presupposition, and Pragmatic Implicature
XU Zhaoqing
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (4): 670-682.
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It is widely accepted that knowledge is factive, but two different understandings of “factivity” should be distinguished, namely, the implication version and the presupposition version. While the former only takes the truth of P as a necessary requirement for “S knows that P,” the latter considers it also necessary for “S does not know that P.” In this paper, I argue against presupposition and defend implication. More specifically, I argue against Wang and Tai’s defense of the presupposition version as presented in a recent paper and propose a pragmatic response to the “persistence problem” of implication. In other words, my positive proposal is an account of implication plus pragmatic implicature. To conclude, I use my version to analyze Wang and Tai’s distinction between inner skepticism and outer skepticism. My conclusion is that, after abandoning presupposition, we can identify two types of intermediate skepticism between Wang and Tai’s inner and outer skepticism.

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12 articles