This paper explores the encounter between traditional Confucian thought and contemporary Anglophone philosophy. It explores the evolution in philosophical methods and heuristics employed by "Western" thinkers in the past fifty or so years, often with the aim of extracting Confucian thought from its specific social and historical roots. Unlike the disciplines of intellectual or literary history, these philosophers have a distinctive variety of aims. These include: articulate dimensions of Confucian philosophy not explicit in traditional texts, develop critiques of Western modernity, (...) derive solutions to problems in Western philosophy, and attempt to reimagine Confucian thought for an East Asian modernity. Analyzing how contemporary philosophers have engaged the Chinese tradition makes clearer the meaning of the much-debated term “Chinese philosophy,” without becoming mired in definitional disputes, while also justifying the enterprise of engaging philosophically with the Chinese tradition. (shrink)
This volume presents the first English translation of the complete set of Confucian classic, Four Books for Women, with extensive commentary by the 17th century literati Wang Xiang, and introductions and annotations by translator Ann A. Pang-White. Written by women for women's education, the Confucian Four Books for Women spanned the 1st to the 16th centuries, and encompass Ban Zhao's Lessons for Women, Song Ruoxin's and Song Ruozhao's Analects for Women, Empress Renxiaowen's Teachings for the Inner Court, and Madame Liu's (...) (Chaste Widow Wang's) Short Records of Models for Women. A female counterpart to the famous Sishu (Four Books) compiled by Zhu Xi, Wang Xiang's Nü sishu provides an invaluable look at the long-standing history and evolution of Chinese women's writing, education, identity, and philosophical discourse, along with their struggles and triumphs, across the millennia and numerous Chinese dynasties. Pang-White's new translation brings the authors of the Four Books for Women to life as real, living people, and illustrates why they wrote and how their work empowered women. This volume reveals the history and evolution of Chinese women's writing, education, identity, and philosophical discourse over a span of 1,600 years. (shrink)
This edited volume of twelve essays originated with a conference on translation held at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2009. A guiding hope of the conference and volume, summarized in the afterword, is that the humanities should pay greater attention to the practice of translation (301). By detailing its nuances and difficulties, the volume challenges the view, sometimes found in philosophy departments, that translation is a rather straightforward process, and significantly less important to the field than original research (...) or monographs. In addition, a second motivation is the relative dearth of translated Chinese texts available in English, compared to the numbers of Western canonical texts long since available in Chinese (1). In response, the volume offers practical and theoretical discussions of how to translate premodern China for the contemporary Western reader. (shrink)
Ji Kang was a great writer and thinker of the Wei-Jin period. He said that he was "indebted to Laozi and Zhuangzi" , and that "Laozi and Zhuangzi are my teachers" . But unlike He Yan and Wang Bi, Ji Kang did not accept Laozi's idea that "Being comes from Nonbeing." He did not take the mental construct of "Nonbeing" as the source or origin of the universe, nor did he, as some comrades suggest, take the material, physical "qi" as (...) the foundation of the existence of all things in the universe. In Ji Kang's view, "Where is this Being and Nonbeing?" That is, why should we conceive of "Being" or "Nonbeing" as the source or origin of the universe? He proposed transcending totally the mysticism of "Being" and "Nonbeing." The present article will discuss a few aspects of this question. (shrink)
During the Warring States period a hundred schools of thought contended and there was much clashing of ideas among the many schools. Within this active intellectual battle, the ideas of the many schools continued to evolve and move apart from one another while at the same time some continued to be synthesized. The ideas of Xun Zi belonged to the Confucian school, in particular, to the Zi Gong branch of that school. He criticized all the schools of the time, even (...) including the better parts of Confucian thinking, but also absorbed from Daoism its naturalism and dialectical way of thought, and from the ideas of the Legalists some other elements, resulting in bringing to the Confucian concept of li new substances. Han Fei was Xun Zi's pupil and yet he was a Legalist. He inherited Xun Zi's primitive materialist concept of nature and openly made the connection between the ideas of Daoism and those of the Legalists. He brought together the ideas of law , technique , and position and thus became the grand synthesizer of Legalist ideas. He, like Xun Zi, refuted and criticized the opinions of many other schools. The characteristic and dominant trends in the intellectual circles of the time were precisely this—conflict and separation, on the one hand, and mutual penetration and synthesis, on the other. (shrink)
Dong Zhongshu is generally acknowledged as the most important Confucian philosopher of the Former Han dynasty and is usually assigned a key role in the adaptation of Confucian thought to the demands of the centralized imperial state. However, recent research has brought his contribution to this process into question. ;The dissertation is divided into four parts. In the first, I reconstruct the events of Dong's life. I review all evidence on his dates of birth and death, his service in the (...) imperial government, and the times at which documents by him were written, determining his chronology with greater accuracy than has been the case previously. ;The second part relates Dong's philosophy in as much detail as possible, leaving aside all Chunqiu fanlu material except that which can be shown to be authentic. The first chapter deals with Han forerunners of Dong: the Huang-Lao and early Gongyang schools, the Shangshu dazhuan, Lu Jia, and Jia Yi. The second chapter reconstructs a general outline of his philosophical system, and the third discusses three aspects of it for which quantities of reliable material have survived: his legal thought, prognosticatory theory, and attempts to control rain. The picture of Dong as the architect of "Imperial Confucianism," long under suspicion, is revealed as a total fiction. ;Part Three traces the development of Gongyang thought from the time of Dong's death up to He Xiu . I demonstrate a correlation between the fortunes of the two branches of the Gongyang tradition and their attitudes to the Wang Mang interregum, and show the close links between Gongyang scholars and the Later Han court. ;The topic of Part Four is the Chunqiu fanlu itself. The first chapter discusses its physical condition, the second reviews previous scholarship, the third investigates Yin-Yang and Five Forces ideas, the fourth takes up a variety of other features, and the fifth is devoted to a detailed analysis of rainmaking. (shrink)
Social breakdown and the failure of Han Confucianism in the middle of third century A.D. China turned the Shi literati to Daoism for inspiration to construct an authentic way of life. The subsequent one hundred and fifty years were a cultural process of dissonant cacophony, in which the synthesis of the two ideologies finally had to give way to Buddhism. The process, what is called the Neo-Daoist Movement, is to date still in demand of an interdisciplinary, vigorously historical, study. ;This (...) writing traces a dialectical cultural and mental development by examining the Shi-literati's life and works, including philosophy and literature, and their often exaggerated behavior in everyday life. It reveals that, in yearning for a life of transcendence, the Shi also wanted to maintain their worldly engagement, and subsequently constructed a paradoxical world view that provided them a spiritual space in a time of social turmoil. By investigating the Shi's cosmology, and their sense of community and self-definition, the present study elucidates the possibilities, as well as the limits, of what they constructed as the authentic life. ;The possibilities and limits can be seen most clearly in the works of Tao Yuan-mind, a great poet who lived at the ending period of the era. Living the life of a farmer, Tao Yuan-mind roughed through life's hardship by taking a spiritual stance that was congenial to both Confucianism and Daoism. In its own way, Tao's poetry brought out what Neo-Daoism should have come to but never did. Precisely because of this nature, Tao's works were historical while transcending the times. In this detailed study of an individual writer and Neo-Daoism, we complete the spiritual-mapping of the era. (shrink)
An exceptional contribution to the teaching and study of Chinese thought, this anthology provides fifty-eight selections arranged chronologically in five main sections: Han Thought, Chinese Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Late Imperial Confucianism, and the early Twentieth Century. The editors have selected writings that have been influential, that are philosophically engaging, and that can be understood as elements of an ongoing dialogue, particularly on issues regarding ethical cultivation, human nature, virtue, government, and the underlying structure of the universe. Within those topics, issues of (...) contemporary interest, such as Chinese ideas about gender and the experiences of women, are brought to light. -/- Introductions to each main section provide an overview of the period, while brief headnotes to selections highlight key points. -/- The translations are the works of many distinguished scholars, and were chosen for their accuracy and accessibility, especially for students, general readers, and scholars who do not read Chinese. Special effort has been made to maintain consistency of key terms across translations. -/- Also included are a glossary, bibliography, index of names, and an index locorum of The Four Books. (shrink)
Dong Zhongshu [c. 179-104 B.C.] was China's greatest idealist philosopher of the Western Han dynasty. Since Liberation, a great number of people have written works analyzing and criticizing the philosophical thought of Dong Zhongshu revealing its idealistic and metaphysical nature. This is absolutely essential. But is there nothing at all that we can take from the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu? I believe that this merits further research. In fact, the teleology and metaphysical world view of his idealistic pantheism played a (...) progressive role in the historical circumstances of his times. (shrink)
In Dong Zhongshu: A 'Confucian' Heritage and the Chunqiu Fanlu, eminent sinologist Michael Loewe shines a bright light on the traditionally seminal but consistently understudied figure of Dong Zhongshu. Having authored several monographs on the Han dynasty over the last four decades, including a recent two-volume Biographical Dictionary (2000) and a "Companion" to those volumes (2004),1 there is probably no one more suitable to undertake such an inquiry. Loewe's contextualization of Dong and the Chunqiu fanlu is thoroughly detailed and well (...) documented. Kudos to Brill for continuing to include all the attendant Chinese graphs and for publishing books with footnotes rather than endnotes (even if junior faculty .. (shrink)
The question of xing has received much attention in the revival of Neo-Confucian philosophy (called Contemporary Neo-Confucianism) in present-day Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China and among scholars of Chinese philosophy in the United States. It also has much to do with a critical consciousness of both the difference and the affinity between the Chinese philosophy of man and morality and the contemporary Western philosophy of human existence and moral virtues. The study of this has great meaning for the development of (...) a global onto-ethics and an onto-ethics of the future of humankind. (shrink)
A notion of delegated causality is introduced here. This subtle kind of causality is dual to interventional causality. Delegated causality elucidates the causal role of dynamical systems at the “edge of chaos”, explicates evident cases of downward causation, and relates emergent phenomena to Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. Apparently rich implications are noticed in biology and Chinese philosophy. The perspective of delegated causality supports cognitive interpretations of self-organization and evolution.
In Chinese philosophy’s encounter with modernity and feminist discourse, Neo-Confucianism often suffered the most brutal attacks and criticisms. In “Neo-Confucians and Zhu Xi on Family and Woman: Challenges and Potentials,” Ann A. Pang-White investigates Song Neo-Confucians’ views (in particular, that of Zhu Xi) on women by examining the Classifi ed Conversations of Zhu Xi (Zhuzi Yulei), the Reflections on Things at Hand (Jinsi Lu), Further Reflections on Things at Hand (Xu Jinsi Lu), and other texts. Pang-White also takes a close (...) look at the Song law regarding women’s property rights and the Song educational system. Surprisingly,Zhu exhibited a level of flexibility, though still limited, on these subjects. He was particularly adamant about the importance of women’s education. In addition, even though he opposed the social practice and women’s ownership of dowry (seeing it as a form of commercializing marriage), he did not absolutely oppose women’s property rights. However, his normative and philosophical view on the male/yang and female/yin relationship was less satisfactory. At one place, he used it to illustrate gender equity; at another place, he defended female subordination. Zhu’s social-political teaching on women’s role could benefit from a more consistent development of his metaphysics of li-qi and yin-yang, which can bring new insight to the contemporary feminist “essentialist versus non-essentialist” debate on sex and gender. (shrink)
The concept of yinyang lies at the heart of Chinese thought and culture. The relationship between these two opposing, yet mutually dependent, forces is symbolized in the familiar black and white symbol that has become an icon in popular culture across the world. The real significance of yinyang is, however, more complex and subtle. This brilliant and comprehensive analysis by one of the leading authorities in the field captures the richness and multiplicity of the meanings and applications of yinyang, including (...) its visual presentations. Through a vast range of historical and textual sources, the book examines the scope and role of yinyang, the philosophical significance of its various layers of meanings and its relation to numerous schools and traditions within Chinese philosophy. By putting yinyang on a secure and clear philosophical footing, the book roots the concept in the original Chinese idiom, distancing it from Western assumptions, frameworks and terms, yet also seeking to connect its analysis to shared cross-cultural philosophical concerns. (shrink)
The assumption that a system described as ‘Confucianism’ formulated by Dong Zhongshu became accepted as the norm during the Western Han dynasty (202 BCE – 9 CE) is challenged and his supposed authorship of the Chunqiu fanlu examined.
Indian philosophy of Yoni-Linga may be examined as a parallel to the Chinese philosophy of “Yin-Yang.” This essay will compare the similarities and distinctions between the two kinds of dichotomies through a theoretical formulation: certain conceptual, analytical and cross-cultural perspectives. The study will be focused on semiologieal, aesthetical, ontological and theological comparisons between these two of the most famous pairs of conceptual antonyms which have been developed by later Sino-Hindu philosophies and theologies as human worldviews widened and deepened with Eastern (...) civilization. (shrink)