In this sequel of my previous publication, I will continue my discussion of the word tian as it appears in the Guodian texts. I shall argue that, from natural order arises xing, human's distinctive potentiality, which is endowed by heaven to follow and be guided by the heavenly principle. I thereafter will elaborate the sages' role as cultural creators. The distinct roles of heaven and humanity are further deepened when tian and ming are perceived as the determinants of an individual's (...) success or failure. I will go on to show how the word tian can be understood as the source or underlying pattern that brings about coincidental or synchronous events and experiences. (shrink)
This is an attempt to demonstrate that in early China anecdotes and biographical scenes are not to be despised in philosophical examination but, on the contrary, merit close attention. By analyzing the encounter between the monarch Helü of the state of Wu and the celebrated strategist Sun Wu, as it is described in various ancient written sources, an attempt will be made to show that this event, far from being a trivial story, concentrates and explains some of the most important (...) ideas to be found in the work traditionally credited to the latter, The Art of War, as well as in other military treatises of the time. (shrink)
This paper is a reconsideration of Platonic dialogues in the light of Taoist insights. The application of Socratic Ignorance to the entire corpus of Plato reveals the yin and yang not only in the internal dialogue between Socrates and Plato, but also between Plato and his reader. Furthermore, this approach brings to the surface the necessity of the dialectic relation between the yang of Western analysis and the yin of Asian intuition to the revelation of the Tao.
This article proposes to discuss the role of music within confucian philosophy as a whole and within neo-Confucian philosophy in particular. The discussion includes a consideration of the construction of chinese music; philosophical correlations drawn between musical elements and features of both macrocosm and microcosm; musical aesthetics in the confucian and neo-Confucian philosophical systems; and affinities between the nature of music and the broader outlook of confucian and neo-Confucian philosophy. The suggestion is made that these affinities help to explain the (...) prominent role of music in these two philosophical schools. (shrink)
In recent years, it has become conventional to think of the world using metaphors taken from computation. Some have even suggested that the world itself is a kind of cosmological computer. In order to compare these suggestions to the process interpretation of early Daoism, I define computation as ?a process in which the fact that one system is rule governed is used to make reliable correlations to another rule governed system? and apply this definition to Yijing divination. I find that (...) early Chinese thinking about the dao is similar to computation in certain respects, but adds elements of appropriateness, novelty, and scope that are lacking in contemporary thought. (shrink)
The concept of the cheng xin in the Zhuangzi claims that the cognitive function of the heart-mind is not over and above its affective states and in charge of them in developing and controlling virtue, as assumed by the Confucians and others. This joint cognitive and affective nature of the heart-mind denies ethical and epistemic certainty. Individual perspectives are limited given habits of thought, attitudes, personal orientations and particular cognitive/affective experiences. Nevertheless, the heart-mind has a vast imaginative capacity that allows (...) the open-endedness and broadening of perspectives. (shrink)
I am writing because I am disturbed by the apparent policy of many mainstream philosophy journals toward Chinese and comparative philosophy. The assumption seems to be that such work should be confined to the handful of specialist journals. I believe that this is an antiquated and counterproductive policy. Philosophers have recognized for a long time that any well-educated ethicist needs to know something about Aristotle, Kant, and the secondary work published on them. Because of changes in our society and in (...) the world as a whole, the time has come for us to recognize that an ethicist should also know something about Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu and Chu Hsi. (shrink)
This article identifies a foundation for Confucian democratic political thought in Confucian thought. Each of the three aspects emphasized is controversial, but supported by views held within the historical debates and development of Confucian political thought and practice. This democratic interpretation of Confucian political thought leads to (1) an expectation that all people are capable of ren and therefore potentially virtuous contributors to political life; (2) an expectation that the institutions of political, social, and economic life function so as to (...) develop the virtue of being a perfected human being; and (3) an expectation that there be public spacefor political criticism and for ongoing contestation over the duties and behaviors of individual leaders and citizens and over the functioning of the institutions that am to cultivate their behavior. (shrink)
In Chinese pre-Qin period, Mohism was the first school that challenged Confucianism. A common view is that Mohists attacked Confucianism by proposing jian ai, often translated as “universal love,” that opposes Confucian “graded love”. The Confucian-Mohist debate on ethics is often regarded as a debate between Mohist “universal love,” on the one hand; and Confucian emphasis on family and kinship, on the other. However, it is misleading to translate jian ai as “universal love,” as it distorts our understanding of the (...) debate. The word jian in classical Chinese means “inclusive,” not “impartial”. The Jian Ai chapters in the Mozi do not object to the idea that our moral practices ought to vary according to our relationship with others and their social positions. Furthermore, Mohist jian ai was not proposed in the first instance to refute Confucian ideas. The Confucian-Mohist debate should not be understood as a battle between nepotism and excessive insistence on impartiality, because both of them advocate that we should care for people in general and that we should maintain close relational ties. (shrink)
: Puritanism and Confucianism have little in common in terms of their substantive teachings, but they do share an emphasis on bounded, authoritative, localized human arrangements, and this profoundly challenges the dominant presumptions of contemporary globalization. It is not enough to say that these worldviews are ‘‘communitarian’’ alternatives to globalism, for that defines away what needs to be explained. This article compares the ontology of certain elements of the Puritan and Confucian worldviews, and, by focusing on the role of both (...) authority and activity in these systems, assesses (with the assistance of Max Weber) the theories of harmony that each invoke. It concludes by identifying the distinct options that these two modes of human existence suggest for those who wish to defend the relevance of boundedness and authority, and thus the very possibility of a human-scaled politics, in today’s world. (shrink)
The most constructive response to the crisis in moral theory has been the revival of virtue ethics, which has the advantages of being personal, contextual, and, as will be argued, normative as well. It is also proposed that the best way to refound virtue ethics is to return to the Greek concept of technē tou biou, literally "craft of life." The ancients did not distinguish between craft and fine art, and the meaning of technē, even in its Latin form, ars, (...) still retains the meaning of skillful crafting and discipline. In Greco-Roman culture, techniques were very specific, covering dietetics, economics, and erotics. In ancient China, moral cultivation was intimately connected to the arts, from archery to poetry, music, and dance, such that virtually every activity would have both moral and aesthetic meaning. Using R. D. Collingwood's distinction between craft and fine art, it is proposed that the latter, particularly the performing arts of music and dance, can serve as a model for virtue ethics in our times. (shrink)
“Confucian democracy” is considered oxymoronic because Confucianism is viewed as lacking an idea of equality among persons necessary for democracy. Against this widespread opinion, this article argues that Confucianism presupposes a uniquely Confucian idea of equality and that therefore a Confucian conception of democracy distinct from liberal democracy is not only conceptually possible but also morally justifiable. This article engages philosophical traditions of East and West by, first, reconstructing the prevailing position based on Joshua Cohen’s political liberalism; second, articulating a (...) plausible conception of Confucian democracy predicated on Confucian conceptions of persons and political participation from the Mencian tradition; and third, exposing the implausibility of the prevailing position in light of the articulation. (shrink)
This essay critically examines a suggestion proposed by some Confucianists that Confucianism and Care Ethics share striking similarities and that feminism in Confucian societies might take “a new form of Confucianism.” Aspects of Confucianism and Care Ethics that allegedly converge are examined, including the emphasis on human relationships, and it is argued that while these two perspectives share certain surface similarities, moral injunctions entailed by their respective ideals of ren and caring are not merely distinctive but in fact incompatible.
Two crucial topics in the philosophy of medicine are the philosophy of nature and philosophical anthropology. In this essay I engage the philosophy of nature by exploring Anne Fagot-Largeault's study of norms in nature as a way of articulating a Confucian philosophy of medicine. I defend the Confucian position as a moderate naturalism.