Xunzi's use of zhengming: Naming as a constructive project

Asian Philosophy 12 (1):35 – 51 (2002)
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This paper challenges the view of several interpreters of Xunzi regarding the status of names, ming. I will maintain that Xunzi's view is consistent with the activity we see not only in his own efforts to influence language, but those of Confucius as well. Based on a reconsideration of translations and interpretations of key passages, I will argue that names are regarded neither as mere labels nor as indicating a privileged taxonomy of the myriad phenomena. Rather, Xunzi conceives them as constructs designed to facilitate social goals. Finally, I will suggest an alternative to overly simplistic understandings of how appropriate names are fashioned and of who is responsible for their form.



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Kurtis Hagen
University of Hawaii (PhD)

References found in this work

The world of thought in ancient China.Benjamin Isadore Schwartz - 1985 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Language and Logic in Ancient China.Chad Hansen - 1983 - University of Michigan Press.
The World of Thought in Ancient China.David S. Nivison - 1988 - Philosophy East and West 38 (4):411-419.

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