Pure knowing (liang zhi) as moral feeling and moral cognition: Wang Yangming’s phenomenology of approval and disapproval
Asian Philosophy 27 (4):309-323 (2017)
AbstractThe main goals of this paper are two. First, it articulates what kinds of knowing pure knowing is in its narrow sense pure knowing as the capacity of moral judgment; pure knowing as moral knowledge and standard. Besides, it analyses pure knowing’s different features through a phenomenological description. All these aspects of pure knowing are tied by moral feeling. Second, this paper addresses two sets of theoretical problems that have been raised in Confucian discourse with respect to pure knowing and Heavenly principle, primarily those that render Wang’s notion of pure knowing to be static recognition toward particular moral issues, or immediate response, which reading cannot really admit the possibilities of extension, reflection, moral cultivation, and reform of institution; and those that understand pure knowing to be merely abstract without concrete content, such as merely being a metaphysical substance. When properly understood, that is, from the perspective of moral emotions, Wang Yangming’s account of pure knowing provides for the possibilities of enhancement and cultivation, while insisting that the content of pure knowing is always accessible to us.
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Citations of this work
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