The common understanding of Chuang-Tzu as one of the earliest deconstructionists is only half true. This article sets out to challenge conventional characterizations of Chuang-Tzu by adding the important caveat that not only is he a philosophical deconstructionist but that his writings also reveal a non-relativistic, transcendental basis to understanding. The road to such understanding, as argued by this author, can be found in Chuang-Tzu’s emphasis on the illusory or dream-like nature of the self and, by extension, the subject-object dichotomy (...) inherent in all forms of conceptualization and descriptive language. These two obstacles to true understanding - the self and literal, linguistic expressions - are overcome in the Chuang-Tzu by implementing metaphorical and poetic language, such as the Kun-Peng myth, the swamp pheasant parable, the introduction of physically deformed interlocutors, various dream analogies, and so forth. By employing such literary devices in a comprehensible and non-mystical manner, this article concludes that Chuang-Tzu successfully communicates his essential wisdom by guiding the reader to a higher state of spiritual awareness, a state in which one transcends the self, language, conceptual paradoxes, and even the idea of transcendence itself. Consequently, through the following explication of Chuang-Tzu’s complementary emphasis on both preventing mental rigidity and promoting spiritual transcendence, this article seeks to earn Chuang-Tzu the reputation of a deconstructionist with a difference. (shrink)
The discovery of a letter in the Niels Bohr archives written by Bohr to a Danish schoolteacher in which he reveals his early knowledge of the Daodejing led the present author on a search to unveil the influence of the philosophy of Yin-Yang on Bohr's famed complementarity principle in Western physics. This paper recounts interviews with his son, Hans, who recalls Bohr reading a translated copy of Laozi, as well as Hanna Rosental, close friend and associate who also confirms the (...) influence of ancient Chinese philosophy on this major figure in Western physics. As with Bohr’s dual perspective approach to the wave-particle, in which describing matter as either wave or particle is not considered inherently contradictory, this article likewise argues that Eastern and Western perspectives about philosophy, reality and life in general need not antagonize one another as is the case in Hegelian dialecticism. Through developing a globally accessible, harmonized system of Eastern and Western thought, this article suggests that individuals can more easily overcome limitations arising from cultural singularity in conventional philosophical approaches and, in turn, achieve a greater degree of social harmony and depth of philosophical understanding, all in the same stroke. (shrink)
These essays represent an attempt to understand the Chinese mind through its philosophy. The first volume of its kind, the collection demonstrates how Chinese philosophy can be understood in light of techniques and categories taken from Western philosophy. Eight philosophers, each of whom is a recognized authority in Western philosophy as well as in some area of Chinese philosophy, contribute chapters from perspectives that indicate the uniqueness of the Chinese way of thinking in categories adapted from Western philosophy. The book (...) covers a wide range of topics including metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, logic, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and western parallels and non-parallels of philosophical development. (shrink)
This review confirms Herman’s work as a praiseworthy contribution to East-West and comparative philosophical literature. Due credit is given to Herman for providing English readers with access to Buber’s commentary on, a personal translation of, the Chuang-Tzu; Herman’s insight into the later influence of I and Thou on Buber’s understanding of Chuang-Tzu and Taoism is also appropriately commended. In latter half of this review, constructive criticisms of Herman’s work are put forward, such as formatting inconsistencies, a tendency toward verbosity and (...) jargon, and a neglect of seemingly important hermeneutical issues. Such issues, seemingly substantive but neglected by Herman, are the influence of Buber’s prior familiarity with Hasidic teachings on his encounter with Chuang-Tzu, as well as the prevalence of Hasidic and Taoist thought in Buber’s conception of good and evil. (shrink)
The Zhuangzi begins with Peng, a soaring bird transformed from a bounded fish, which is the first metaphor that points beyond limited standpoints to a higher point of view. The transformation is one-way and symbolizes that there is a higher viewpoint to attain which affords mental freedom and the clarity and scope of great vision. Under the alternate thesis of constant transformation, values and understandings must ceaselessly transform and collapse. All cyclical transformations must collapse into skeptical relativism and confusion. But (...) Peng does not turn back into a fish, and the awakened sage does not fall into a slumber of ignorance and confusion. It is only the thesis of a one-way transformation that leaves the sage in a state of knowledge. (shrink)
As a response to Diane Vaughan’s controversial work on the NASA Challenger Disaster, this article opposes the conclusion that NASA’s decision to launch the space shuttle was an inevitable outcome of techno-bureaucratic culture and risky technology. Instead, the argument developed in this article is that NASA did not prioritize safety, both in their selection of shuttle-parts and their decision to launch under sub-optimal weather conditions. This article further suggests that the “mistake” language employed by Vaughan and others is inappropriate insofar (...) as it obscures the responsibility of individuals within the organization and trivializes the loss of life and severity of the disaster. Contra to the conclusions of Vaughan’s casework, this article reveals various ethical transgressions on the side of NASA and its affiliates; from its decision to use poorly designed O-rings, to withholding crucial engineering assessments from the shuttle-crew, this article points out that NASA did not succumb to a pre-destined fate, but, rather, created its own. (shrink)
This article offers a meta-analysis of contemporary approaches aimed at resolving the internal, relativistic-non-relativistic tension within the text of the Chuang-Tzu. In the first section, the four most commonly applied approaches are unpacked and evaluated, ranging from relativistic approaches such as hard relativism and soft relativism, to approaches that acknowledge both relativism and non-relativism, as well as others which acknowledge neither of the two perspectives (relativism and non-relativism). After demonstrating the immanent difficulties these four types of approaches encounter, the latter (...) section of this paper puts forward a different philosophical solution known as asymmetrical relativism. This novel approach preserves textual evidence for both relativistic and non-relativistic attitudes within the Chuang-Tzu by proposing that the mind engages in relativism insofar as it is in a state of ignorance; en route to enlightenment, however, value-laden discourse and pedagogical heuristics are nonetheless still employed as instruments for the mind to transcend its own ignorance. (shrink)
The theme of this paper is that while there are four seemingly contradictory classes of statements in the Tao de Ching regarding moral values and the Taoist sage, these statements can be interpreted to be consistent with each other. There are statements which seemingly state or imply that nothing at all can be said about the Tao; there are statements which seemingly state or imply that all value judgements are relative; there are statements which appear to attribute moral behaviour to (...) the Taoist sage and there are statements which appear to attribute amoral or immoral behaviour to the Taoist sage. A consistent interpretation of these different statements can be found first by qualifying the assertion that the Tao is not capable of description to the less absolute assertion that nothing absolutely true can be said about the Tao; second, by arguing that the statements that appear to make all values relative refer to the correlativity of concepts, not the equality of values. Moreover, since the statements that appear to attribute moral behaviour to the sage are, by virtue of their predominance in the text, well justified and that by virtue of their paucity in the text, it is plausible to seek an alternate interpretation for the statements that seem to attribute amoral or immoral behaviour to the sage. Finally, the way in which the sage can be seen as good without attributing goodness to the Tao is by distinguishing between the way the sage appears to the observer who is outside of the Tao and the way in which the sage appears to himself. This latter distinction takes the form of the sage as appearing to display the quality of goodness in itself but not goodness for itself. (shrink)
This article draws on two Mencian illustrations of human goodness: the example of the child in the well and the metaphor of the continually deforested mountain. By reconstructing Mencius’ two novel ideas within the framework of a phenomenological thought-experiment, this article’s purpose is to explain the validity of this uncommon approach to ethics, an approach which recognizes that subjective participation is necessary to achieve any ethical understanding. It is through this active phenomenological introspection that the individual grasps the goodness of (...) human nature, whilst simultaneously coming to realize one’s own degree of closeness (or estrangement) to this universal nature, depending on the success of the thought experiment. Despite the apparent logical circularity of reformulating Mencius in such fashion, this article further maintains that no theoretical premises need be taken up prior to reenacting the Mencian thought-experiment. On the contrary, this article explains that knowledge of human nature manifests itself in the very moment of the proposed epistemic act. (shrink)
One side of this paper is devoted to showing that the Golden Rule, understood as standing for universal love, is centrally characteristic of Confucianism properly understood, rather than graded, familial love. In this respect Confucianism and Christianity are similar. The other side of this paper is devoted to arguing contra 18 centuries of commentators that the negative sentential formulation of the Golden Rule as found in Confucius cannot be converted to an affirmative sentential formulation (as is found in Christianity) without (...) a change in its meaning. In this respect Confucianism and Christianity are different. (shrink)
The theme of this paper is that while there are four seemingly contradictory classes of statements in the Dao de Jing regarding moral values and the Daoist sage, these statements can be interpreted to be consistent with each other. There are statements which seemingly state or imply that nothing at all can be said about the Dao; there are statements which seemingly state or imply that all value judgements are relative; there are statements which appear to attribute moral behaviour to (...) the Daoist sage and there are statements which appear to attribute amoral or immoral behaviour to the Daoist sage. A consistent interpretation of these different statements can be found first by qualifying the assertion that the Dao is not capable of description to the less absolute assertion that nothing absolutely true can be said about the Dao; second, by arguing that the statements that appear to make all values relative refer to the correlativity of concepts, not the equality of values. Moreover, since the statements that appear to attribute moral behaviour to the sage are, by virtue of their predominance in the text, well justified and that by virtue of their paucity in the text, it is plausible to seek an alternate interpretation for the statements that seem to attribute amoral or immoral behaviour to the sage. Finally, the way in which the sage can be seen as good without attributing goodness to the Dao is by distinguishing between the way the sage appears to the observer who is outside of the Dao and the way in which the sage appears to himself. This latter distinction takes the form of the sage as appearing to display the quality of goodness in itself but not goodness for itself. (shrink)
This work is intended to serve not only as an expression of a new idea of a philosophy, but as an apologia for philosophy as a legitimate and independent discipline in its own right. It argues that in the 20th century, truth has not been abandoned, but merely modified. The text proposes a return to truth and suggests that it is only after apprehending the truths of consciousness that the philosopher's mirror may become a kaleidoscope through which reality may be (...) contemplated. First order truth lies in the realm of discovery, and discovery takes place only within the moment of subjective re-enactment. It is through such a phenomenological criterion of validity that this work attempts to firmly ground an epistemology capable of paving the way for further substantive truth discoveries. As part of the philosophic stance advanced herein, however, epistemology and metaphysics are not developed in isolation. After analyzing other metaphysical approaches, the author utilizes the Chinese principle of complementarity (yin-yang) to present his own conception of modified Hegelian dialecticism, as an account of systematic coherency and a backdrop to future philosophizing. (shrink)
This article takes one of the richest historical debates, that of Hsun-Tzu and Mencius, as the contextual starting-point for the elaboration of human goodness. In support of Mencius, this article develops additional metaphysical and bio-social-evolutionary grounds, both of which parallel each other. The metaphysical analysis suggests that, in the spirit of Spinoza, an entity’s nature must necessarily include the drive toward its preservation. Likewise, the multi-faceted bio-social-evolutionary argument locates the fundamental telos of humanity in the preservation of social ties and (...) species preservation, leading to a life-affirming philosophy and bio-psychological deduction of human emotions based on the primary emotion of love. (shrink)
The Platform Sutra, which dates back to the seventh century C.E., is one of the classic documents of Chinese philosophy and is the intellectual autobiography of Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism. In the Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch demonstrates that the spiritual and intellectual problems of consciousness stem from a false adherence to the dualistic standpoint. The Sixth Patriarch utilizes ingenious arguments to demonstrate how one can escape the problems of dualism. An example of a constructive engagement (...) between Chinese philosophy and Searle is to compare and contrast the arguments of Hui Neng with those of Searle. The Sixth Patriarch and Searle both reach a rather similar solution to the problem of dualism—to stop counting. In the case of the Sixth Patriarch, his solution possesses the goal of enabling the reader to achieve a spiritual liberation. Searle, in contrast, addresses the troubling epistemological problems of dualism. Searle proposes a causal monism: he claims consciousness is a state of the brain, that it is caused by processes in the brain, that it is a feature of the brain, and that it is all these at the same time. This article aims to highlight Searle’s arguments and impressive insights; it also aims to show the connection between Searle’s master insight concerning the non-duality of consciousness and the Sixth Patriarch’s realization that the difficulties of understanding consciousness stem from the formulation of the description itself. (shrink)
The orientation of this paper is that there is no special science of "business ethics" any more than there is one of "medical ethics" or "legal ethics". While there may be issues that arise in medicine or law that require special treatment, the ways of relating to such issues are derived from a basic ethical stance. Once one has evolved such an ethical stance and thus has incorporated a fundamental mode of relating to her or his fellow human beings, the (...) "how" to deal with various ethical "issues" will follow as a natural consequence of one's ethical stance or modality. It is not necessary, in the formation of one's fundamental ethical stance to know if one is a utilitarian or a deontologist. It is doubtful whether Buddha knew what kind of ethics he was practising. If one conceives of ethics as something extrinsic to various disciplines and attempts to first practise a discipline and then to apply ethics to modify the results of that discipline it is entirely possible that conflicts will result between what is perceived of as the proper pursuit of that discipline and the ethical considerations. The argument of this paper is that it is more efficacious (in addition to being more true) to take ethical considerations into account in the construction of the definition of the discipline. This paper is devoted to showing that business and ethics are not two different and competing fields of interest (thus requiring a discipline of business ethics to be grafted onto the study of business enterprise), but that ethical concerns are part and parcel of the very concept of a business enterprise and the internal operation of a business organization. (shrink)
How can a business institution function as an ethical institution within a wider system if the context of the wider system is inherently unethical? If the primary goal of an institution, no matter how ethical it sets out to be, is to function successfully within a market system, how can it reconcile making a profit and keeping its ethical goals intact? While it has been argued that some ethical businesses do exist, e.g., Johnson and Johnson, the argument I would like (...) to put forth is that no matter how ethical a business institution is, or how ethical its goals are, its capacity to act in an ethical manner is restricted by the wider system in which it must operate, the market system. Unless there is a fundamental change in the notion of the market system itself, the capacity for individual businesses to act in an ethical manner will always be restricted. My argument is divided into two parts. The first part is to show the inherent bias towards unethical outcomes that is inherent in the market system. The second part is to suggest how to reorient the general economic framework in order to make ethical institutions more possible. The question then becomes, how to define economic behavior in terms other than competition for profit. (shrink)
This article is a response to the paradoxical nature of Moore's views on sense perception. By arguing that Moore's later stance on the objective world (that there are both mind-dependent and mind-independent features) requires a causal theory of perception, this article suggests that Moore lacks the epistemic justification needed to make assertions about the nature of mind-independent matter. Instead, the idealistic reply proposed in this article is to first dissolve Moore's distinction between mind-dependent and mind-independent features of the world, and (...) to then argue that shape, colour and other such qualities are known only in virtue of their similar perceptual (mind-dependent) origins. This article further diverges from Moore by concluding that objects are not mind-independent at all, but always indebted to various acts of cognitive construction. (shrink)
Utilitarianism, the great reforming philosophy of the nineteenth century, has today acquired the reputation for being a crassly calculating, impersonal philosophy unfit to serve as a guide to moral conduct. Yet what may disqualify utilitarianism as a personal philosophy makes it an eminently suitable guide for public officials in the pursuit of their professional responsibilities. Robert E. Goodin, a philosopher with many books on political theory, public policy and applied ethics to his credit, defends utilitarianism against its critics and (...) shows how it can be applied most effectively over a wide range of public policies. In discussions of such issues as paternalism, social welfare policy, international ethics, nuclear armaments, and international responses to the environment crisis, he demonstrates what a flexible tool his brand of utilitarianism can be in confronting the dilemmas of public policy in the real world. (shrink)
This book examines the Condorcet Jury Theorem and how its assumptions can be applicable to the real world. It will use the theorem to assess various familiar political practices and alternative institutional arrangements, revealing how best to take advantage of the truth-tracking potential of majoritarian democracy.
Revisioning macro-democratic processes in light of the processes and promise of micro-deliberation, Innovating Democracy provides an integrated perspective on democratic theory and practice after the deliberative turn.
The precise application of the term ‘heroic measures’ in the discourse of medicine and medical ethics is somewhat uncertain. What counts and what does not is, at the margins, a perpetually contentious issue. Basically, though, we can say that the term refers to the deployment of unusual technologies or treatment regimes, or of ordinary technologies or treatment regimes beyond their usual limits.
Democracy used to be seen as a relatively mechanical matter of merely adding up everyone's votes in free and fair elections. That mechanistic model has many virtues, among them allowing democracy to 'track the truth', where purely factual issues are all that is at stake. Political disputes invariably mix facts with values, however, and then it is essential to listen to what people are saying rather than merely note how they are voting. The great challenge is how to implement that (...) deliberative ideal among millions of people at once. In this strikingly original book, Goodin offers a solution: 'democratic deliberation within'. Building on models of ordinary conversational dynamics, he suggests that people simply imagine themselves in the position of various other people they have heard or read about and ask, 'What would they say about this proposal?' Informing the democratic imaginary then becomes the key to making deliberations more reflective - more empathetic, more considered, more expansive across time and distance. (shrink)
Bracket out the wrong of committing a wrong, or conspiring or colluding or conniving with others in their committing one. Suppose you have done none of those things, and you find yourself merely benefiting from a wrong committed wholly by someone else. What, if anything, is wrong with that? What, if any, duties follow from it? If straightforward restitution were possible — if you could just ‘give back’ what you received as a result of the wrongdoing to its rightful owner (...) — then matters are morally more straightforward. But in real-world cases that is often impossible, and questions of ‘how much, from whom and to whom?’ become far more vexing. The beneficiary disgorging all benefits of the wrong is part of the story, but where that is not possible or will not suffice to compensate the victim of wrongdoing we discuss various ways of allocating the cost of making the victim whole, including supplementation from public coffers. (shrink)
"How do we experience time? What do we use to experience it?In a series of remarkable experiments, Robert Ornstein shows that it is difficult to maintain an “inner clock” explanation of the experience".