The Roots of Chinese Philosophy and Culture — An Introduction to "Xiang" and "Xiang Thinking"

Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (1):1 - 12 (2009)
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To grasp the truth in traditional Chinese classics, we need to uncover the long obscured "xiang" 象 (image) thinking, which has long been overshadowed by Occidentalism, "xiang thinking" is the most fundamental thought of human beings. The logic of linguistics all comes from "xiang thinking". Through conceptual thinking, people can understand Western classics on metaphysics, yet they may not completely understand the various schools of Chinese classics. The difference between Chinese and Western ways of thinking originated in the difference of the basic views developed in the "Axial period". Since Aristotle, Western metaphysical ideas have all been manifested in substantiality, objectivity, and being ready-made, whereas Chinese Taiji, Dao, Xin-xing, and Zen were manifested in the non-substantiality, non-objectivity, and non-ready-made-ness of a dynamic whole. To grasp substance, rational and logical thinking such as definition, judgment, and reasoning is necessary. On the other hand, to grasp Taiji, Dao, etc., which is a dynamic whole or non-substances, "xiang thinking", which is related to perception and rich in poetic association, is essential. History has taught us a lesson, i.e., when we opened the window to logical thought, we closed that of "xiang thinking". We should remember the words of Xu Guangqi, i.e., "To mingle harmoniously and understand thoroughly so as to excel". /// 重新打开被西方中心论长期遮蔽的 "象思维" 是把握中国传统经典本真的 需要。"象思维" 是人类最本原的思维。语言逻辑部经过 "象思维" 孕育而产生。 用概念思维可以透彻解读西方形上学经典,却未必能透彻解读中国诸家经典。中西 两种思维的不同,源于在 "轴心时期" 产生的基本理念的不同。西方形上学理念从 亚里士多德以降均为不同实体,显示为实体性、对象性、现成性。而中国的太极、 道、心性、禅则显示为动态整体的非实体性、非对象性、非现成性。把握实体,需 要用理性的、逻辑的概念思维,如定义、判断、推理等。而把握动态整体或非实体 的太极、道等,则需要用悟性的、诗意联想的 "象思维"。历史的经验教训是:在我 们打开逻辑概念思维这扇窗户时,却错误地关闭了 "象思维" 这扇窗户。我们应记 住徐光启的箴言 "会通以超胜"。.



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Lin Zhang
Shanghai JiaoTong University

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