The examination of names and words constitutes an important aspect of the philosophy of Zhuangzi. With the debate over the relationship between name and reality as its background, this examination not only involves the connection between form and meaning, but also targets at the connection between concepts and objects. The debate over the relationship between name and reality correlates with the discussion of the connection between words and meanings or ideas. For Zhuangzi, the function of names and words is first and foremost embodied as the classification and distinction of being, while the Dao, as the universal principle of being, is characterized by equality and throughness. This leads to an inherent disparity and tension between names, words and the Dao. Zhuangzi's thinking and argument concern the connections between name and reality, words and ideas, and the Dao and words. This displays multiple theoretical perspectives and the complexity of its thought.
In Mencius’ theory of the original goodness in human nature, fate is the original source of xing (nature). Heart is the appearance of nature. There are two aspects to nature and heart: ti (form) and yong (function). From the perspective of form, nature is liangzhi (the goodness in conscience) and liangneng (the inborn ability to be good) in human beings and heart is human’s conscience and original heart. From the perspective of function, nature is the four things of benevolence, righteousness, propriety and wisdom, and heart consists in compassion, shame, respect, right and wrong. As the foundation for the theory of the original goodness in human nature, conscience and heart are a combination of human moral instinct, moral rationality and moral volition, whereas moral instinct gradually rises to moral volition and passes through moral rationality. Mencius’ theory of the original goodness in human nature is not a theory of future goodness, but a theory of original goodness.
The epistemology in Chinese philosophy remarkably emphasizes the cultivation of cognitive subjects. According to such epistemology, intelligence arises from benevolence, and thus morality should be valued to gain knowledge. In this way, epistemology is integrated with theories of values and cultivation. The cultivation of cognitive subjects in Chinese philosophy mainly involves a stance, attitudes, ways of thinking and feelings of a cognitive subject. To expatiate and develop the theory of the cultivation of cognitive subjects in Chinese philosophy has much meaning for the construction of a modern Chinese-style Marxist philosophy system.
The correspondence of a sensory object to the category of a descriptive statement requires a reflexive-identity of the object, and such a reflexive-identity is primarily based on the cognition of spatiality. Spatiality is, however, constituted through visual perception. There are only two occasions on which definitive reflexive-identity is exemplified: the infinitesimal point and the infinite “One,” and others are just human stipulations that meet pragmatic needs of rough identification of things at hand. However, if a spatial point is not different from any so-called “other” spatial point, to validate the reflexive identity of any spatial point implies a validation of the reflexive identity of all spatial points. Thus, as “one” and “many” here become absolutely unitary, the infinitely small and the infinitely immense are identical.
Whether empirical givenness has the reliability that foundationalists expect is a point about which some philosophers are highly skeptical. Sellars took the doctrine of givenness as a “myth,” denying the existence of immediate perceptual experience. The arguments in contemporary Western epistemology are concentrated on whether sensory experience has conceptual contents, and whether there is any logical relationship between perceptions and beliefs. In fact, once the elements of words and conceptions in empirical perception are affirmed, the logical relationship between perceptual experience and empirical belief is also affirmed. This relationship takes place through perceptual experience acting as evidence for beliefs. The real problem lies in how one should distinguish between the different relationships with perception of singular beliefs and of universal beliefs, and in how singular beliefs can provide justification for universal beliefs.
Research into logical syntax provides us the knowledge of the structure of sentences, while logical semantics provides a window into uncovering the truth of sentences. Therefore, it is natural to make sentences and truth the central concern when one deals with the theory of meaning logically. Although their theories of meaning differ greatly, both Michael Dummett’s theory and Donald Davidson’s theory are concerned with sentences and truth and developed in terms of truth. Logical theories and methods first introduced by G. Frege underwent great developments during the past century and have played an important role in expanding these two scholars’ theories of meaning.
Radical interpretation is used by Davison in his linguistic theory not only as an interesting thought experiment but also a general pattern that is believed to be able to give an essential and general account of linguistic interpretation. If the principle of charity is absolutely necessary to radical interpretation, it becomes, in this sense, a general methodological principle. However, radical interpretation is a local pattern that is proper only for exploring certain interpretation in a specific case, and consequently the principle of charity is an applicable principle in the limited scope. It is neither the case that every linguistic interpretation is in nature radical nor that the principle of charity is the primary and fundamental principle for all linguistic interpretation as Davidson believes.
The transcendental problem that obsessed the great Western philosophers such as Kant and Husserl should be, according to Wittgenstein, conceived as a matter of understanding a process of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from stated rules. Once these rules, regarded as a priori categories by Kant and as eidos and eidetic relations by Husserl, are demonstrated to be no more than the language usages or rules of language-games related to our forms of life, Kant’s transcendental idealism and Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology no longer have a leg to stand on.
Compared with another founder of philosophical anthropology Max Scheler, Plessner is desolated by Chinese academe. His works have not been translated into Chinese systematically, and there are few articles about his life and thoughts. The reasons for this are complicated, but the most important point of these is that Plessner has paid most of his attention to the German problems. However, Plessner’s thought, especially his critique of social radicalism, enlightens us a lot. Plessner’s critique of modernity stimulates us to think about the controversy which broke out between New Left-wingers and Liberalists in the late 20th century and to discern the common ground between the two parties: Radicalism.
In Heidegger’s thinking, a language is neither words nor expressions. The discussion of a language brings not the language itself but rather us into its essence, and makes us gather unto “the genesis of the very language itself.” With snows and vesper bells, Heidegger summoned both heaven and earth and gods and men, making them merge into a single world. Likewise, Zhuangzi used the words of Qixie to summon the fleeting clouds in an endless sky and a dusky earth populated by living beings and dust.