Knowledge and Error in Early Chinese Thought

Drawing primarily on the Mòzǐ and Xúnzǐ, the article proposes an account of how knowledge and error are understood in classical Chinese epistemology and applies it to explain the absence of a skeptical argument from illusion in early Chinese thought. Arguments from illusion are associated with a representational conception of mind and knowledge, which allows the possibility of a comprehensive or persistent gap between appearance and reality. By contrast, early Chinese thinkers understand mind and knowledge primarily in terms of competence or ability, not representation. Cognitive error amounts to a form of incompetence. Error is not explained as a failure to accurately represent the mind-independent reality due to misleading or illusory appearances. Instead, it can be explained metaphorically by appeal to part-whole relations: cognitive error typically occurs when agents incompetently respond to only part of their situation, rather than the whole
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    Justin Tiwald (2012). Xunzi on Moral Expertise. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (3):275-293.
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