Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472-1529) was one of China's most influential Ruist philosophers. The publication widely regarded as most representative of his Ruism is the three-volume Record of Instructions for Practice. Wang Yangming’s followers kept records of statements he made and conversations he held when discussing his Ruist learning with them. During and after his lifetime, these records were compiled in three volumes. The third volume was gathered together and edited by his ardent follower Qian Dehong 錢德洪, who then published it (...) in 1556. This book is a modern, bilingual Chinese-English edition of the third volume with annotations and commentary. (shrink)
This paper explores the encounter between traditional Confucian thought and contemporary Anglophone philosophy. It explores the evolution in philosophical methods and heuristics employed by "Western" thinkers in the past fifty or so years, often with the aim of extracting Confucian thought from its specific social and historical roots. Unlike the disciplines of intellectual or literary history, these philosophers have a distinctive variety of aims. These include: articulate dimensions of Confucian philosophy not explicit in traditional texts, develop critiques of Western modernity, (...) derive solutions to problems in Western philosophy, and attempt to reimagine Confucian thought for an East Asian modernity. Analyzing how contemporary philosophers have engaged the Chinese tradition makes clearer the meaning of the much-debated term “Chinese philosophy,” without becoming mired in definitional disputes, while also justifying the enterprise of engaging philosophically with the Chinese tradition. (shrink)
Skill and Mastery: Philosophical Stories from the Zhuangzi presents an illuminating analysis of skill stories from the Zhuangzi, a 4th century BCE Daoist text. In this intriguing text that subverts conventional norms and pursuits, ordinary activities such as swimming, cicada-catching and wheelmaking are executed with such remarkable efficacy and spontaneity that they seem like magical feats. An international team of scholars explores these stories in their philosophical, historical and political contexts. Their analyses’ highlight the stories’underlying conceptions of agency, character and (...) cultivation; and relevance to contemporary debates on human action and experience. The result is a valuable collection, opening up new lines of inquiry in comparative East-West philosophical debates on skill, cultivation and mastery, as well as cross-disciplinary debates in psychology, cognitive science and philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper we extend Wittgenstein’s notion of family resemblance to translation, interpretation, and comparison across traditions. There is no need for universals. This holds for everyday concepts such as green and qing 青, philosophical concepts such as emotion and qing 情, as well as philosophical categories such as form of life and dao 道. These notions as well as all other concepts from whatever tradition are family resemblance concepts. We introduce the notion of quasi-universal, which connects family resemblance concepts (...) from a limited number of traditions. The possibility and necessity of extending family resemblance concepts across traditions dissolves the false antinomy of universalism versus relativism. (shrink)
China now faces a national identity problem, that is, sections of the national population do not identify with the Chinese nation-state in which they live. Tibetans, for example, endeavor to create their own political identity through the reconstruction of a Tibetan cultural and ethnic identity. China's national identity problem also involves the question of reunification with Taiwan. In Taiwan, both the Guomindang and the Democratic Progressive Party governments have refused to reunify with China. The question of Taiwan and Tibet are (...) different cases and require different treatment,1 but Beijing's response to the two questions—refusing to adopt a democratic approach—is the same. (shrink)
If we say that on the level of form, works of art correspond to the humanization of sense perception in the human psychology, then on the level of the image, they correspond on the whole to the humanization of desire. As a result, their aesthetic effect is manifested as artistic sedimentation.
Gu Jiegang devoted the energies of his lifetime to researching and debating many of the major books and records of ancient China, and advocated the well-known theory of "doubting of antiquity in order to discriminate the false". The objective of the project was to give the ancient writings back their true features, revealing the true spirit of China's traditional culture, and preventing the latter from being confused and corrupted by false theories. His achievements are clear and indisputable. Just as the (...) venerable Guo [Moruo] once said: "He has, by and large, laid bare the falsities of old historical materials". (shrink)
Jiang Qing's proposal of the kingly way is probably the most detailed Chinese alternative to both the current PRC regime and liberal democracy. The nucleus of the kingly way is the idea of threefold legitimacy : a government must have sacred, popular, and historical-cultural legitimacy. For Jiang, this is a universal and invariant political principle, though how it is realized in concrete political institutions varies according to culture. Jiang is critical of democracy for emphasizing only popular legitimacy and neglecting the (...) other two sources, and believes the kingly way is the solution to the problems of democracy, particularly neglect of the environment and the interests of noncitizens. Jiang's proposals have aroused significant controversy. A number of contemporary Ruists have expressed skepticism or outright rejection of Jiang's ideas. Others are more sympathetic to his attempts to revive Ruism in Chinese politics and society. (shrink)
At present, the movement throughout middle schools in Beijing seems to be on the verge of death. Despite the hard efforts by the rebels, somehow the masses still have not been aroused to action, and the bourgeois reactionary line remains as strong as ever. This phenomenon has puzzled many comrades and has caused them to wonder: What on earth is it that has so effectively impeded the criticism of the bourgeois reactionary line?
The old, controversial question of whether Confucianism is a religion or not has reemerged as a central issue in contemporary China's "Cultural Renaissance Movement." The papers in this issue offer a glimpse of some notable scholarly views in recent discussions on the religious properties of Confucianism and the possibility of the religious transformation of Confucianism. The major topics include the competition between Confucianism and Christianity, the necessity to establish Confucianism as a state religion, the conception of fashioning Confucianism as a (...) civil religion, the potential for Confucianism to provide the basis for a new Chinese cultural nationalism, and the role of Confucianism in the Chinese people's spirituality and daily lives. (shrink)
The Water Margin is one of the four great classical novels of China. It describes how people from different walks of life were driven to become outlaws as a result of poor governance and widespread corruption. These outlaws have been regarded by some commentators as heroes, despite the fact that they perform wanton killing, over retribution, and cannibalism. Liu Zaifu 劉再復 argues that the novel has contributed to the moral downfall of the Chinese people. In this essay, I put forward (...) various arguments in objection to Liu. I think Liu’s argument is unsound, partly because he fails to address the nature of the cultural confrontation between modern readers and The Water Margin. By conducting an evaluation of Liu, I also consider a range of issues concerning how we may understand The Water Margin, and how the novel may morally relate to us in modern society. (shrink)
Inspired by French scholar Marie-José Mondzain, this paper deals with the Holy Spirit and how the gift of the Spirit can provide for a different authority and economy. Xia also deals with the concept of icons and the Chinese concept of “face,” touching upon issues of identity and authority, and giving three Kantian “imperatives” for “spiritual” gift giving in the Chinese context.
Using a term coined by the contemporary Chinese philosopher Mou Zongsan, we could define Zhou Dunyi's thought in terms of ‘moral metaphysics’. Zhou Dunyi, a thinker who lived in Northern Song period, developed a philosophy that shows an ontological link between the cosmic order of the universe and the human moral reality. His contribution consists of two short works, Penetrating the Book of Changes and Discussion of the Supreme Polarity Diagram. These works played a fundamental role in creating the metaphysical (...) structure of the neo-Confucian thought: Zhu Xi emphasized Zhou Dunyi's contribution to the neo-Confucian philosophy and, more precisely, he pointed out how Zhou Dunyi's ideas helped to define the conceptual framework of neo-Confucianism. Moreover, Zhu Xi legitimized Zhou Dunyi's role as the pioneer of the ‘Learning of the Way’, or the renewed neo-Confucian tradition. This paper aims to provide an overview of Zhou Dunyi's crucial role in the field of neo-Confucianism. At the same time, we stress the need for further analysis in order to fully understand the value of Zhou Dunyi's philosophy in the Song period intellectual context. (shrink)
Robert Neville’s three-volume set, Philosophical Theology, is a work of considerable physical heft and remarkable intellectual scope, a magnum opus that redefines how we understand religion and its place in the interconnected world of today: “Religion is human engagement of ultimacy expressed in cognitive articulations, existential responses to ultimacy that give ultimate definition to the individual and community, and patterns of life and ritual in the face of ultimacy”. This new definition is necessitated by the fact that “the ultimate reality (...) of the world consists in its being created in all its spatiotemporal complexity by an ontological act of creation”. Philosophical... (shrink)
Roger T. Ames begins his contribution to Chenyang Li and Franklin Perkins’ edited volume Chinese Metaphysics and Its Problems with this scene from Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, chapter 51: “They [a set of literary articles written for the Eatanswill Gazette] appeared in the form of a copious review of a work on Chinese metaphysics, Sir,” said Pott. “Oh,” observed Mr. Pickwick; “from your pen, I hope?” “From the pen of my critic, Sir,” rejoined Pott, with dignity. “An abstruse subject, I (...) should conceive,” said Mr. Pickwick. “Very, Sir,” responded Pott, looking intensely sage. “He crammed for it, to use a technical but expressive term; he read up for the subject... (shrink)
Over the last few decades, a renewed interest in the philosophical study of the aesthetic appreciation of nature has developed within Western analytic aesthetics.1 In philosophical aesthetics, especially in North America and Western Europe, the resultant field of research is generally known as ‘environmental aesthetics.’2 More recently, a related area of philosophical study has arisen in the East, primarily in China. However, in this case, the field of research is typically called ‘ecological aesthetics’ or, as it is also labeled, ‘ecoaesthetics’.3 (...) The question that this poses is that of the relationship between the ecoaesthetics developed in China and the environmental aesthetics developed... (shrink)
The subject of this issue is Zhao Fusan (b. 1926), a Shanghaiborn Christian pastor and intellectual who has lived in exile since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. As a scholar of world religions and vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zhao in the mid-1980s authored a sympathetic Marxian interpretation of the role of religion (translated in this issue) that has had a lasting impact in the PRC. In exile, Zhao's major projects (sampled in this issue) have (...) included Chinese editions of important works on early Christianity and the intellectual and cultural history of Europe. (shrink)
The religious question in China, which is today marked by various conflicts between the state and unrecognized confessional organizations, can be understood only in a historical perspective. In particular the adoption early in the 20th century of a notion of religion coming directly from the West, and narrowly defined, has justified a policy that grants a relative but controlled freedom to five great religions while actively condemning others, which are seen as ‘superstitions’. The article details the implications of this notion (...) of ‘religion’ in modern and contemporary China and looks at how Chinese religious traditions have adapted to it. (shrink)
Our age has often been called "an age of technology." However, somewhat ironically, our philosophy, as the crystallization of the spirit of any age, has done little to study the issues of technology, and its understanding of technology itself is very superficial. The reason is not that there are no philosophical questions worth investigating in technology, or that the technological mode of thought is not worth reflecting upon from the angle of philosophy. Rather, as some Western philosophers have pointed out, (...) the fundamental reason for philosophy's neglect of technology lies in that people have "mistakenly assumed that technology is too far removed from the elegant realm of thought and ideology" (, p. 219). (shrink)
The various social functions of color language are only realized through the conveyance of information and coded messages. In other words, only after information is conveyed that deals with the basic issues of social identity and social meaning—namely "Where do I come from?" and "Who am I?"—are the social functions of color language actually realized, to wit expressing individual social attributes, manifesting aesthetic sensibilities, and displaying individual character and personality.
Recently I had the opportunity to read once again, thoroughly and carefully, the book entitled La défaite de la pensée 1 written by the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. This book provides a historical critique of the development of thought in the West since the Enlightenment through the interweaving of the two threads of "national spirit" (minzu jingshen, in German, Volksgeist) and "cosmopolitanism" (shijie zhuyi), and the mutual interaction between them.
In recent years, discussions on problems of logic in Chinese academic circles have basically demonstrated two different and opposing views. These two different and opposing views, in the final analysis, manifest two different academic roads.
Recent historical studies in Chinese philosophy have encountered problems on the nature of continuity in philosophical thought and on how to carry on philosophical inheritance. These problems include that of the nature of inheritance in ethical thought.
In 1937, at a philosophical symposium chaired by Charles Morris at the University of Chicago in the United States, Von Bertalanffy, an Austrian-American philosopher, announced the imminent establishment of a new field of knowledge, which he called a general theory of systems. In the wake of that proclamation, there emerged, in the world outside of China, a wave of enthusiasm that could be called systems mania. In 1978, Comrade Qian Xueshen and two others published in Wen hui bao an article (...) titled "Systems Engineering: The Technology of Organizational Management." Since then, many comrades in our country have also carried out a considerable amount of research and study on the problems related to the theory of systems. Among these studies, the main focus of investigation, by comparison, has been the specific substance and contents of the concept of systems, the laws of systems, and the systems method. In the following essay, I shall attempt, under the guidance of the principle of dialectical materialism, to employ the methodology of contradictions analysis in making a preliminary probe into the aforementioned problems. (shrink)
Editor's comment: A prevalent viewpoint in the study of ethics holds that in the consideration of morality, one should confine oneself to the discussion of obligations, and that the subject of rights belongs to the realm of law. This article by Comrade Cheng Lixian proposes an alternate view; in it he suggests that rights and obligations are inseparable from one another, and to discuss moral obligations without discussing moral rights would be partial and incomplete. We surmise that such a discussion (...) of a problem related to the fundamental categories of ethics will lead to quite vigorous interest and debate. (shrink)
Analogy is not a method of logical reasoning but a method of conjecture. This is because the conclusion of logical reasoning in its true sense must be drawn inevitably from its premise through a certain logical process. But analogy does not have this characteristic. Therefore, in the sense of modern logic, analogy is generally not recognized as a logical method. It was in this sense that Einstein stressed that from experiential facts to theory there was no passage for logic. Of (...) course, he could not deny the role played by analogy in scientific recognition; on the contrary, he attached great importance to this role. The problem is in the idea that analogy is not a "passage for logic." As early as thirty years ago, the well-known contemporary American logician Tarski emphatically pointed out the difference between logic and empirico-scientific methods and at that time tended to doubt the possibility of the existence of any "logic of empirical science," which is opposed to "logic of deductive science." But up to the present, a number of logic textbooks and articles published in China today still often comprehend the concept "logic" extensively and usually look upon the method of analogy as a method of logical reasoning. (shrink)