Cosmo-Metaphysics: The Origin of the Universe in Aristotelian and Chinese Philosophy

This essay compares Greek and Chinese conceptions of the origin of the world based on the concept of cosmo-metaphysics, by which I mean a philosophical scheme that addresses at once the law of the universe and the primary cause of substance or being. In regarding God or the first mover as both the cosmic and substantial principle of unity, Aristotle spells out a cosmo-metaphysics in his On the Universe and the Metaphysics. Aristotle’s cosmo-metaphysics, I propose, finds a close parallel in the metaphysical system represented in the Laozi 老子, the Daoist classic, and “The Great Commentary” on the Yijing 易經. Both texts articulate a cosmo-metaphysics that integrates the cosmic and substantial principles of unity through the two concepts of the Dao 道 and being versus nonbeing, the Chinese counterparts of Aristotle’s prime mover and being qua being. Chinese and Western metaphysics share not only a fundamental assumption about the origin of the world but also the hypothesis of an ineffable and inactive first mover. Where Aristotle resorts to analogy and metaphor to name and characterize this elusive and passive mover, Chinese philosophers prefer to leave it unnamed and use natural images to illustrate its nature. Despite the different approaches, however, the fundamental assumption about the prime mover as both a substantial and cosmic principle lies at the root of both Chinese and Western metaphysics. The comparative lens centered on the concept of cosmo-metaphysics thus uncovers a distinctive Chinese metaphysics that corresponds closely to that in the West, a correspondence that calls into question some prevailing presumptions about Chinese philosophy.
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-017-9572-8
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“Emotions That Do Not Move”: Zhuangzi and Stoics on Self-Emerging Feelings.David Machek - 2015 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (4):521-544.
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