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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


, Volume 11 Issue 2

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Orginal Article
Research Findings Concerning Excavated Texts and Learning in Early China
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 168-184.
Abstract   PDF (356KB)

In the course of Chinese history, we find three instances of important and deliberate attempts to reconstruct ancient history. In the first two, the main path followed in the reconstruction process concerned setting in order and recovering the traditional writings. But recently, the main path is to confirm the genuineness of the traditional writings, correcting errors and filling in omissions in the traditional concepts according to the “method of double proof.” Based on this, I aim to advance a new understanding of some key controversial issues in the history of learning in early China, concerning Confucius and the Book of Changes, the Analects and the Analects-kind texts, the School of Zisi and its literary output, Lao Zi the man and the book, and the dates of Wen Zi, Guanyin Zi, and Lie Zi. On this basis, I conclude that the development of pre-Qin philosophy went through four periods, with two significant turning points therein.

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The Laozi and the Cosmogonic Turn in Classical Chinese Philosophy
Franklin Perkins
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 185-205.
Abstract   PDF (363KB)

In the past several decades, our understanding of the Laozi has been revolutionized by the discovery of new textual materials. While research has focused on various manuscript copies, the discovery of other cosmogonic texts dated to the late fourth century BC indicate that the Laozi was not as unique as it once seemed. Taken together, these texts show a radical shift in philosophical orientation occurring by the late 4th century BC, a change toward concerns with cosmogony and accounts of human beings as merely one part of the natural world. The goal of this paper is to analyze the various elements of this shift, using the Taiyi Sheng Shui 太一生水 (Great One Generates Water), Hengxian 恆先 (Constancy First), and Fan Wu Liu Xing 凡物流形 (All Things Flow into Form), along with the Laozi bamboo strips found at Guodian. The first section examines the commonalities between the various cosmogonies; the second places cosmogony in the context of other distinctive concerns that the texts share, turning toward the implications of the cosmogonies for human action. The final section examines one of the fundamental points on which the texts disagree.

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A Study of the Key Concepts “Heng ” and “Hengxian ” in the Hengxian on Chu Bamboo Slips Housed at the Shanghai Museum
DING Sixin
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 206-221.
Abstract   PDF (487KB)

This essay agrees that the two controversial characters on Slip 12 of the Hengxian 亙先 should be transcribed as “ ” and “ ,” and pronounced as “ji” 極. Secondly, with respect to six occurrences of the character “亙” (heng) on Slips 1-9 which Qiu Xigui 裘錫圭 reads as “極” (ji), this essay holds that in the end it should be read as “恆” (heng), and that the reading provided by Li Ling 李 零is acceptable. Therefore, that piece of bamboo slip writing can be named “恆 先” (Hengxian). Thirdly, “亙” (heng) and “亙先” (hengxian), or “恆” (heng) and “恆先” (hengxian), are two concepts, the latter of which is based on the former. “亙” (heng) is more fundamental and more important than “亙先” (hengxian). Scholars mostly equate “恆” (heng) with “恆先” (hengxian), and even regard “恆 先” as the prior expression of this concept. One can hardly say that this is correct. In the bamboo writing, “恆” (heng) actually refers to “tian dao” 天道 (heavenly dao), rather than “dao” in the Laozi. The so-called “恆先” (hengxian) suggests the very commencement of the genesis and evolvement of Heavenly dao, which is somewhat equivalent to “taishi” 太始 (grand commencement) in the Huainanzi 淮南子. Fourthly, in the Hengxian, “恆” (heng) implies objective and natural laws, while “極” (ji) suggests ought-to-be rules. “極” (ji) in the bamboo writing is actually informed by “恆” (heng).

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The Meaning of Xing 形and Moral Transformation in Wuxing
WANG Miquan
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 222-235.
Abstract   PDF (322KB)

The popular reading of xing yu nei 形於內 (being actualized from the internal) in Wuxing creates a predicament in the understanding of “xing 行 (behaviors)” which is not xing yu nei. As stated in Wuxing and other early Confucian texts, including The Doctrine of the Mean, The Great Learning, the Mencius and Xunzi, xing 形 is a process involving multidimensional content including not only deliberated decisions and actions, but also attitudes, facial expressions, and even the charisma that possesses power to transform the world. Xing 形 always operates in an effortless natural style, rather than under cognitive control. Xing yu nei signifies that virtues are possessed to a perfectly deep degree. Therefore, “not xing yu nei” does not mean that “behaviors” are forced by external pressure and thus hypocritical, but rather that although they also originate from internal virtues, the virtues in this case are not deep enough to enable multidimensional and natural manifestations. Xing 行, representing the way of the “human,” is the approach to and is on a continuum with “de zhi xing 德之行 (the behavior of Virtue),” which matches the way of Heaven. Shendu 慎 獨requires paying close attention to and regulating the intentions and emotions emerging at the heart/mind, which is the fundamental work when making the effort of “xing” towards “de zhi xing.”

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Origins of Numbers in Shifa of Tsinghua Bamboo Slip Manuscripts
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 236-249.
Abstract   PDF (364KB)

It is difficult to trace the range of available divinatory numbers from the statistics of digital hexagrams. Now, however, we have definite proofs about the numerical ranges of Shifa (a new unearthed divination method) and about the Dayan divination method (the orthodox divination method of Zhouyi). As Shifa is closely related to Guicang (Reverting to the Hidden, Yi of Shang dynasty), SEVEN could be the key divinatory number in analyzing the numerical range of Guicang. Therefore, relationships among number groups of different divination methods could be distinct. The annotation “It is divined by the fixity of SEVEN and EIGHT of Yi in Xia and Shang dynasties” implies that Jia Gongyan (a famous confucian of the Tang dynasty) had misused the Dayan divination method. It could be certified by the odd-even analysis of Guicang of Qin Bamboo Slip Manuscripts. This study also reveals that the divinatory numbers of unearthed dice correspond to Shifa rather than the original report.

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What Is Not So Fine with Fine’s Critique of the Modal Account of Essence
HE Chaoan
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 250-262.
Abstract   PDF (233KB)

The invention of contemporary model theories of quantified modal logic gives substance to the modal account of essence. Kit Fine developed an incisive argument against the modal account. It is argued here that the Finean counterexamples all rest on a certain consideration of irrelevance and the challenge could be met in a uniform way. There is a distinction to be drawn between epistemological identification essence and metaphysical identity essence. The former accommodates the intuitive appeal of the Finean cases and the latter grounds the feasibility of the modal account. An object-reflexive method is introduced to rephrase the counterexamples and to rehabilitate the otherwise inscrutable metaphysical relevance.

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Delusional Beliefs, Two-Factor Theories, and Bizarreness
NIE Chenwei
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 263-278.
Abstract   PDF (263KB)

In order to explain delusional beliefs, one must first consider what factors should be included in a theory of delusion. Unlike a one-factor theory, a two-factor theory of delusion argues that not only anomalous experience (the first factor) but also an impairment of the belief-evaluation system (the second factor) is required. Recently, two-factor theorists have adopted various Bayesian approaches in order to give a more accurate description of delusion formation. By reviewing the progression from a one-factor theory to a two-factor theory, I argue that in light of the second factor’s requirements, different proposed impairments can be unified within a consistent belief-evaluation system. Under this interpretation of the second factor, I further argue that the role of a mechanism responsible for detecting bizarreness is wrongly neglected. I conclude that the second factor is a compound system which consists of differing functional parts, one of which functions to detect bizarreness in different stages of delusion; moreover, I hold that the impairment can be one or several of these functional parts.

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Logic, Pragmatics, and Types of Conditionals
López-Astorga Miguel
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 279-297.
Abstract   PDF (243KB)

Johnson-Laird and Byrne distinguished ten kinds of conditionals. Their framework was the mental models theory and they attributed different combinations of semantic possibilities to those ten types of conditionals. Based on such combinations, the mental models theory has clear predictions for reasoning tasks, including those kinds of conditionals and involving reasoning schemata such as Modus Ponens, Modus Tollens, the affirming the consequent fallacy, and the denying the antecedent fallacy. My aim in this paper is to show that the predictions of the mental logic theory for those reasoning tasks are exactly the same as those of the mental models theory, and that, therefore, such tasks are not useful to decide which of the two theories is correct.

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Nietzsche’s Nihilism
LI Guiyan
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (2): 298-319.
Abstract   PDF (271KB)

Nietzsche’s philosophical views have by now been superseded. He found the roots of nihilism in European society’s traditional metaphysics and Christian morality, and he located nihilism specifically within the field of morality or value. He so urgently sought to resolve the problem of nihilism that he proposed extreme methods, such as the revaluation of all values. But he did not overcome nihilism completely, though he claimed that the Overman would replace the Christian God. Nihilism is not only a European phenomenon. As a historical process, nihilism may appear in different countries. We should take a positive attitude toward this phenomenon and guide it in the right direction. Nietzsche’s ideas on nihilism are important contributions and an inspiring legacy that can help us confront contemporary phenomena.

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12 articles