Wang Yangming's Theory of the Unity of Knowledge and Action Revisited: An Investigation from the Perspective of Moral Emotion

Philosophy East and West 69 (1):197-214 (2019)

Abstract

This article is an extension of my previous article, which describes pure knowing as the ability and criteria for making moral judgment.1 Due to apparent contradictions among Wang Yangming's statements, there are controversies over the evaluation and interpretation of Wang's idea of the relation between moral knowledge 2 and moral action. Generally, on the one hand, Wang admits that there are people who commit wrong actions even though they recognize that these actions are wrong. He claims not only that sages possess pure knowing, but also that robbers feel ashamed to be called "robbers" through the working of pure knowing.3 On the other hand, he explicitly states that "There have never...

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