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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 15 Issue 2

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The Logical Style of Confucius’ Analects
Thierry Lucas
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 167-197.
Abstract   PDF (338KB)

Considered from a logical point of view, Confucius’ Analects contain many implicit forms of reasoning and argumentation. This is shown first by analyzing the phenomenon of parallelism: direct parallelism is often a way of hinting at a general assertion, whereas anti-parallelism hides dilemmas, generalizations and modal notions of “moral preference.” The Analects also have various types of conditionals, ranging from material implications, to modalized implications, and counterfactual conditionals, which are the germs of implicit reasoning, concluding with a moral recommendation. Analogies are particularly abundant and a presentation of three examples suggests that, beyond their explicative role, they also involve moral recommendations. The implicit logic of The Analects requires an active, albeit unconscious participation of the reader, which could be an important element in explaining the enduring influence of the text.

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Roles and Representations of Women in Early Chinese Philosophy: A Survey
Sarah Craddock, John Preston
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 198-222.
Abstract   PDF (295KB)

An understanding of the roles and representations of women in classical Chinese philosophy is here derived from central texts such as the Analects, the Lienü Zhuan, and the I Ching. We argue that the roles of women during the classical period of Chinese philosophy tended to be as part of the “inner,” working domestically as a housewife and mother. This will be shown from three passages from the Analects. Women were represented as submissive and passive, as with the qualities ascribed to yin energy, and therefore as rightfully subordinate to men. However, despite representations of women in philosophy being thus at this time, there were exceptions, specific women who could take a male “outer” political role. The story of Jing Jiang from the Lienü Zhuan suggests that although women being involved in “outer” affairs were looked down on, there were still women who would be and who would occasionally get praised for doing so. This shows that it was realized, explicitly or otherwise, that women were capable of taking those roles, but also that they were not allowed to take such roles at that time.

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Structuring Reality: The Metaphysics of Harmony in Zhang Zai’s Zhengmeng Philosophical System
Filippo Costantini
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 223-241.
Abstract   PDF (282KB)

The essay aims to analyze the concept and the paradigm of harmony in the metaphysical system of the Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhang Zai. It argues that Zhang Zai’s concept of Great Harmony not only inherits the traditional centrality of this idea within the Confucian tradition, but actually presents the most advanced idea of harmony up to his time. In Zhang Zai’s philosophy, harmony becomes the Way itself, which includes the realm of principles and the outward and functional manifestations of reality. This essay will deal with harmony in two ways: first with Zhang Zai’s direct use of the concept in the Zhengmeng and second, applying the paradigm of harmony to other of Zhang Zai’s key concepts such as qi 氣, void (xu 虛) and natural dispositions (xing 性).

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Toward a Multi-Layered Chiasme-Focused Topology: A Reading of Merleau-Ponty’s Later Writings
MA Lin
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 242-269.
Abstract   PDF (324KB)

This paper traces the genealogy of reversibility, chiasma, and chiasme in Merleau-Ponty’s writings and offers a new characterisation of his later ontology in terms of a multi-layered chiasme-focused topology informed by subtle differences and interconnections among these notions. We need to grasp the significance of reversibility not only in terms of constant recoil and impossible overlap but also of its situatedness in the crisscrossing between Dasein and things, and between the inside/invisible and the outside/visible. “Chiasma” was initially introduced as a reference to the intersection of perspectives. Merleau-Ponty deploys it to articulate macroscopic insights concerning the nature of philosophy and the interweaving connections between self, other, and the world. In comparison, “reversibility” is primarily used to describe the microscopic bond between touching-touched and perceiving-perceived. I argue that, as Merleau-Ponty’s ultimate choice of wording, “chiasme” incorporated the significance of both “reversibility” and “chiasma.” A chiasme-focused topology that retains the significance of all three of the terms would serve to better convey the import of Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology, which aims to dissolve and to re-configure our conceptions about being, body, self, and the other from within and from below.

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To Anchor a Pure De Se
ZONG Desheng
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 270-292.
Abstract   PDF (271KB)

A significant number of philosophers in the recent debate regarding the case of de se subscribe to two theses—an existence thesis and an ascription thesis, as I call them. Whether or not these philosophers are correct, I show that given these two theses, there is conceptual space for what I call in this paper “the case of pure de se,” i.e. de se attitudes and de se content ascribed with the use of sentences made up entirely of indexicals. The type of de se case that has been the focus of the on-going debate turns out to be a derivative case, more appropriately called “mixed de se.” For those who are committed to the existence thesis and the ascription thesis, the existence of pure de se poses an explanatory challenge. In this paper I develop an account of pure de se, centered on the notion of anchorage.

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Complete Virtue and the Definition of Happiness in Aristotle
HU Xinkai
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 293-314.
Abstract   PDF (278KB)

In this paper, I challenge the standard reading of complete virtue (ἀρετή τελεία) in those disputed passages of Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics. I argue that, for Aristotle, complete virtue is neither (i) wisdom nor (ii) a whole set of all virtues. Rather, it is a term used by Aristotle to denote any virtue that is in its complete or perfect form. In light of this reading, I offer a pluralist interpretation of Aristotelian happiness. I argue that for Aristotle, the life-long exercise of a predominant virtue—as long as it is exercised in its complete or perfect form—will suffice for human happiness. The so-called inclusivist and intellectualist notions of Aristotelian happiness, thus understood, are merely two forms (viz. the composite and the non-composite form) of the pluralist notion of Aristotelian happiness. And if I am right, my pluralist interpretation provides an alternative, if not better, solution to the long-standing problem of “dual happiness” in Aristotle.

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From Primary Goods to Capability
LI Xianjing
Front. Philos. China. 2020, 15 (2): 315-329.
Abstract   PDF (206KB)

While being generally appreciative of John Rawls’ theory of justice, this paper aims to describe and compare the two metrics of justice—primary goods and capability, and through critiques and responses between Amartya Sen and John Rawls, I argue that the capability metric is a better project than the social primary goods metric insofar as it can provide a more practical path for rethinking the concept of social justice, as well as a better approach in resolving fundamental social justice issues in China.

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9 articles