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

Asian Philosophy 12 (1):35 – 51 (2002)
Abstract
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 (2003). Artifice and Virtue in the Xunzi. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 3 (1):85-107.
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