Review of Geaney's On the Epistemology of the Senses in Early Chinese Thought [Book Review]

China Review International 10 (1):157-164 (2003)
This is a full length review in which I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Jane Geaney's On the Epistemology of the Senses in Early Chinese Thought. Geaney's strengths lie in her refusal to import Western epistemological presuppositions into depictions of Early Chinese philosophy, her meticulous canvassing of key Warring States texts, and her insightful reconstruction of Early Chinese epistemology as based on perception rather than abstract concepts. Her weaknesses are the limited range of her representative texts and her occasional overgeneralizations. In the first half of the review, I summarize Geaney's solid conclusions: knowledge in Warring States texts was stated in terms of, and even constituted by, seeing and hearing (as opposed to the primacy of sight in the West); seeing and hearing were referred to in paired tropes; the epistemology of seeing and hearing generally involved moral evaluation; and the heartmind had a triple role in this process as verifier, as ruler, and as a sense in its own right. In the second half of the review, I demonstrate the limitations of Geaney's methodology, using her example of the relationship of qi and wind.
Keywords Chinese philosophy  Early China  Ancient China  Epistemology  Knowledge  Senses  Perception  Qi  Wind  Heartmind
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