This essay reviews Confucian ethics with regard to impartiality and Confucian notion of brotherhood. It focuses on the comments by Song Neo- Confucians, Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi, about a famous case involving brotherhood. In this case Diwu Lun of the Han dynasty treated his diseased son and his diseased nephew in different ways. The author argues that Confucianism, starting from a naturalist standpoint, affirms the partiality in the relations between brothers, and judges deliberate impartiality negatively. On this point, one cannot simply view Confucianism as analogous to the Kantian ethics which promises impartiality or the virtue ethics which opposes impartiality.
The spirit of Confucianism, which holds benevolence as its core value, has positive significance in the dialogue between civilizations and in the construction of global ethics. The values represented in Confucian benevolence are similar to the values in Christian Charity. Confucian values such as the doctrine of magnanimity, the idea of putting oneself in the place of another, and the Confucian way of extending love and favors, are crucial resources to hold in close connection with the relationship between human beings and nature, individuals and society, self and others, and one and oneself. The Confucian idea of “differentiated love” is a concrete and practical idea, which can be extended to be “universal love.” Furthermore, the Confucian way of extending love can also be interpreted as eco-ethical: On the one hand, Confucianism affirms the intrinsic value of the universe and calls for a universal moral concern for the ecological world; on the other hand, it recognizes a distinction between human beings and the nature, revealing an eco-ethical awareness of distinction and a consciousness of the differentiation between different ethical spheres. In extracting the instrumental value of ecological resources, Confucians never disregard the intrinsic value of animals and plants. Confucianism puts emphasis on subjectivity, especially the subjectivity of morality. Relationships between man and himself, between self and others, however, are inter-subjective. For Confucians, the universe exists and grows in the process of perfecting oneself, others, and the world. Such an understanding is of modern significance for the exchange and dialogue between civilizations, and the growth of personality and the mental regulation of gentleman today.
Ever since Han Fei proposed that “Confucianism has divided into eight schools,” the divisions among Confucius’ followers have been a complicated puzzle in Chinese academic history. After the demise of Confucius, two schools, Xihe 西河 School and Zhusi 洙泗 School, founded by Zixia and Zengzi respectively, had the biggest influence. Inheriting and developing Confucianism, these two schools each had their own unique insights. If we compare their thoughts, the development of early Confucianism can be found has two different approaches: (1) Zixia attached great importance to study. He practiced Confucianism by means of learning comprehensively and belonged to the school of knowledge seeking. On the other hand, Zengzi valued one’s perfect inner personality. He paid much more attention to searching inwardly, and honored “morality” at all times. (2) Zixia paid special attention to the ritual system, emphasizing the external ritual specifications of human behavior, and advocating cultivating one’s morality from outside to inside. Zengzi maintained cultivating one’s morality from inside to outside, especially through self- reflection. (3) Zixia emphasized self-cultivating and being harmonious to others, therefore he focused on external achievements, while Zengzi paid more attention to moral integrity. (4) While Zixia rarely discussed filial piety, Zengzi regarded filial piety as the most important virtue. Since filial piety is applicable universally, Zengzi’s philosophy is a filial piety-rooted philosophy. Broadly speaking, Zengzi and Zixia’s main difference lies in their different approaches to learning. Despite these differences, as firm Confucians they are “the same in Dao and different in methods.”
The basic spirit of administration in The Analects includes the five following aspects: the wisdom of administration regarding humanity as the foundation; the wisdom of leadership with primary virtue; the wisdom of conducting business with righteousness; the wisdom of harmonious organization; and the wisdom of coordination with the mean. Relative to modern Western rational spirit of scientific management, Confucian management focuses on exploring the humanities and shaping human nature, and this has a unique value for contemporary management activities.
Wisdom and knowledge are the basic spirits of Eastern and Western aesthetics. The shortcoming of the aesthetics based on knowledge, i.e., the aesthetics of knowledge, lies in the fact that it clings to the opposing differences between Western- and Eastern-centered theories. These differences include essentialism and anti-essentialism; harmonious and non-harmonious relationships between person, self, nature and society; art or nature as the highest aesthetic realm; metaphysics or psychology as the aesthetic domain; dualism and Advaita; and so on. The aesthetics based on wisdom, namely aesthetics of wisdom, is valuable due to its adopting an impartial attitude toward Eastern and Western aesthetics, essentialism and anti-essentialism, philosophical horizon and psychological horizon, theory of harmony and theory of antagonism, beauty of art and beauty of nature, dualism and Advaita, up to aesthetics of knowledge and aesthetics of wisdom. Contrasted with this understanding of the aesthetics of knowledge, non-dualism and non-Advaita are the soul of the spirit of the aesthetics of wisdom.
Intrinsic value in nature is a key concept in professional environmental ethics literature in the West. Western scholars such as Holmes Rolston III and Paul Taylor argue that the philosophical foundation of environmental ethics should be based on the concept of intrinsic value in nature. Influenced by this concept, some influential Chinese environmental ethics scholars such as Yu Mouchang and Lu Feng argue that the foundation of environmental ethics in China should be based on the concept of intrinsic value in nature. This paper holds that the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical meaning of intrinsic value in nature is the legacy of Western philosophical traditions, which is in conflict with the Chinese philosophical traditions. Meanwile, the paper argues that the Daoist conception of living in harmony with nature can become the foundation for Chinese environmental ethics. The Daoist conception of living in harmony with nature is based on aesthetic appreciation of nature and people’s participation in the beauty of nature.
The whole of Western metaphysics, particularly Platonism, sets up a partition between the sensory world and the supersensory world, laying the foundation for the mythology of the supersensory world. After Descartes set contemporary metaphysics on its course, Feuerbach became the first to attack the essence of the supersensory world on an ontological level and to transfer the criticism of theology to that of metaphysics in general. While in the final analysis Feuerbach’s criticism fails, Marx’s revolution appeals to the ontological notion of “sensory activity” or “objective activity” (i.e., practice), the core of which rests in piercing and overturning the fundamental framework of contemporary metaphysics—“the immanence of consciousness.” It is this ontological revolution which reveals the camouflage of the supersensory world’s mythology (i.e., ideology) and which simultaneously establishes a solid foundation for the critical analysis of the latter. Marx’s “science of history” is based on this foundation and develops from it.
Do we really care whether our beliefs are true? Stephen Stich gives us a very surprising but challenging answer: Once we find out what it means for a belief to be true, the answer to the above question is “a consistently negative” one. He argues that there is neither intrinsic nor instrumental value in having true beliefs. However, his argument is based on some very dubious reasons. For instance, one of his reasons is that if we value true beliefs intrinsically, we will leave out a huge space of mental states that have no truth values but would vastly increase their user’s power or happiness or biological fitness. But this is false because we can value different things intrinsically at the same time. He is even less successful in arguing against instrumental value in having true beliefs. He admits that he does not establish a knockdown argument against the value of having true beliefs, but he insists that the burden of argument be surely on those who maintain that there is value in having true beliefs. To meet his challenge, we have shown that there is cognitive intrinsic value in holding true beliefs and that generally, true beliefs are more conducive to our survival than false beliefs. If we completely depend on our false beliefs to achieve our goals, we will act like a blind cat who can only catch a mouse by chance.
Facing the development of pluralistic cultures and the conflict of varied civilizations, we should examine political theory frameworks, particularly as concerns the construction of world order. On the problem of “tolerance or hospitality,” tolerance has been the target of opposition. Jacques Derrida deconstructs this concept and supports Immanuel Kant’s notion of hospitality instead of tolerance. However, Jürgen Habermas advocates reconstructing the concept of tolerance, although he does note its limits. We should regard hospitality as the fundamental spirit of international relations and take the notion of “Seeking Sameness and Respecting Diversity” as a principle for handling relations between different cultures.
Plantinga’s conception of possible worlds is problematic in one sense: it relies on the prior idea of modality. His strategy for resolving the puzzle of transworld identity is significant in the metaphysical sense but fruitless in the epistemological sense because world-indexed properties cannot be used as effectively in epistemic practice as their counterparts, i.e., space- and time-indexed properties. His isolation of transworld identification from transworld identity is unconvincing. This paper argues that the intelligibility of modal discourse and reference is the essence of transworld identity. It is also proved that transworld identification is the epistemic ground of such intelligibility. Hence, the transworld identification problem is the epistemological foundation of the transworld identity problem, and there must be a comprehensive answer to the former.