Horse-parts, white-parts, and naming: Semantics, ontology, and compound terms in the white horse dialogue
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (2):167-185 (2007)
In this article I argue against Chad Hansen’s version of the “White Horse Dialogue” (Baimalun) of Gongsun Longzi as intelligible through writings of the later Moists. Hansen regards the Baimalun as an attempt to demonstrate how the compound baima, “white horse,” is correctly analyzed in one of the Moist ways of analyzing compound term semantics but not the other. I present an alternative reading in which the Baimalun arguments point out, via reductio, the failure of either Moist analysis; in particular they point out how neither analysis accounts for ordinary, acceptable inferences like “There is a white horse; therefore there is a horse.” At issue for Gongsun Longzi is a fundamental problem with atomic terms: none of them seems capable of referring to a particular, “stand-alone” individual.
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References found in this work BETA
Chad Hansen (1992). A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Interpretation. Oxford University Press.
Chung-ying Cheng & Richard H. Swain (1970). Logic and Ontology in the Chih Wu Lun of Kung-Sun Lung Tzu. Philosophy East and West 20 (2):137-154.
Chad Hansen (1983). Language and Logic in Ancient China. University of Michigan Press.
A. C. Graham (1978). Later Mohist Logic, Ethics, and Science. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
A. C. Graham (1990). Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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