Representing the Cosmos and Transforming the Human: The Onto-hermeneutic Visions of Chung-ying Cheng’s The Primary Way: Philosophy of Yijing

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 48 (2):185-199 (2021)
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The review essay critically evaluates, synoptically presents, and admiringly celebrates Chung-ying Cheng latest work, The Primary Way: Philosophy of Yijing. It sees the book’s publication as an emblem of an intellectual jubilee – a half-centenary of scholarly lucubration and achievement in Chinese and comparative philosophy by Cheng, who was trained at Harvard in American pragmatism and analytic philosophy. The essay reveals why Cheng returns to the Yijing time and again. The principal reason is that this ancient classic, to his way of thinking, offers us “the primary Way,” the anchoring normative criteria, perspectives, and values in a nutshell, whereby reality may be deciphered, discerned, and distinguished. To put it in metaphoric terms, the Yijing is the fount of Chinese philosophy. Whether interpreting Chinese thoughts in general or reading the Yijing in particular, Cheng brings western theoretical perspectives to bear on the understanding of the Chinese texts, which are, in and of themselves, replete with deep philosophical meanings. Cheng appropriates the Yijing for his own primary end, which is to disclose, via his onto-hermeneutic reading, a living, transformative ethico-moral philosophy that is onto-cosmologically alive and onto-generatively fecund: the primary Way. In doing so, he not only offers us innovative scholarship on the ancient classic but also opens up a theoretical and methodological frontier, an onto-hermeneutic one, where Chinese thought and philosophy may be explored anew.



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