Han Feizi’s criticisms of Confucian and Mohist political recommendations are often thought to involve materialist or historicist arguments, independently of their epistemological features. Drawing largely on Amia Srinivasan’s recent taxonomy of genealogical arguments, this paper proposes a genealogical reading of passages in “The Five Vermin [五蠹 wudu]” and “Eminence in Learning [顯學 xianxue].” This reveals Han Feizi’s arguments to be more comprehensively appreciated as problematizing Confucian and Mohist political judgments as arising from undermining contingencies, rendering them irrelevant, if not detrimental, (...) to any lasting excellence of a state. In doing this, it is also suggested that there is a ‘master argument’ underlying Han Feizi’s criticisms, according to which the epistemology of the Confucians and Mohists are fundamentally unreliable. (shrink)
The classical Chinese philosophical tradition (ca. 6th to 3rd centuries BCE) contains rich discussion of skill and expertise. Various texts exalt skilled exemplars (whether historical persons or fictional figures) who guide and inspire those seeking virtuosity within a particular dao (guiding teaching or way of life). These texts share a preoccupation with flourishing, or uncovering and articulating the constituents of an exemplary life. Some core features thought requisite to leading such a life included spontaneity, naturalness, and effortless ease. However, there (...) was also significant disagreement during this ‘Warring States’ or ‘Hundred Schools’ period on which skills were valuable, how one should cultivate them, and who exactly ought to serve as exemplars. In this chapter, I discuss two prominent types of expertise and their attendant skills. The first is expertise at a particular craft, occupation, or dao, which finds its most poignant celebration in the early Daoist anthology Zhuangzi. Interest in crafts or skilled occupations was likely motivated by a perceived (or implied) analogy with living a good life more generally. The second concerns ethical expertise, a prominent and widely held ideal within the Ruist (Confucian) and Mohist schools. Both maintain that ethical expertise consists of an ability to apply past models or precedents to current cases, though they diverge on what those models are and how to properly apply them. The aim is to provide non-specialists an overview of this literature in Daoism, Confucianism, and Mohism, while also providing suggestions about further research. (shrink)
Reply to Ian Johnston Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11712-012-9274-1 Authors Dan Robins, School of Arts and Humanities, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, NJ 08205, USA Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009.