The verb 'imagine' admits of perspectival modification: we can imagine things from above, from a distant point of view, or from the point of view of a Russian. But in such cases, there need be no person, either real or imagined, who is above or distant from what is imagined, or who has the point of view of a Russian. We call this the puzzle of perspectival displacement. This paper sets out the puzzle, shows how it does not just concern (...) language, but also states of imagining themselves, and then presents a solution. The solution draws on the idea that many reports of imagining conceal a distinctive kind of question, and such concealed questions have an extra argument place for (what we will call) an experiencer from whose perspective things are imagined. This solution has a range of advantages over other proposals in the literature, and helps to advance two debates concerning perspectival engagement with fiction. (shrink)
Vendler’s :161–173, 1979) puzzle about imagination is that the sentences ‘Imagine swimming in that water’ and ‘Imagine yourself swimming in that water’ seem at once semantically different and semantically the same. They seem semantically different, since the first requires you to imagine ’from the inside’, while the second allows you to imagine ’from the outside.’ They seem semantically the same, since despite superficial dissimilarity, there is good reason to think that they are syntactically and lexically identical. This paper sets out (...) the puzzle and offers a novel solution. Our proposal is that, just as there is knowledge-wh, there is also imagining-wh and that the inside/outside distinction Vendler points to is properly understood as a distinction within imagining-wh. In particular, to imagine swimming from the inside is to imagine what it feels like to swim, while to imagine swimming from the outside is to imagine what it looks like to swim. We show that this proposal is well grounded in both the semantics and syntax of ‘imagine.’ We also argue it makes better sense than its rivals of the data Vendler found so puzzling. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop and defend a new adverbial theory of perception. I first present a semantics for direct-object perceptual reports that treats their object positions as supplying adverbial modifiers, and I show how this semantics definitively solves the many-property problem for adverbialism. My solution is distinctive in that it articulates adverbialism from within a well-established formal semantic framework and ties adverbialism to a plausible semantics for perceptual reports in English. I then go on to present adverbialism as a (...) theory of the metaphysics of perception. The metaphysics I develop treats adverbial perception as a directed activity: it is an activity with success conditions. When perception is successful, the agent bears a relation to a concrete particular, but perception need not be successful; this allows perception to be fundamentally non-relational. The result is a novel formulation of adverbialism that eliminates the need for representational contents, but also treats successful and unsuccessful perceptual events as having a fundamental common factor. (shrink)
The many-property problem has traditionally been taken to show that the adverbial theory of perception is untenable. This paper first shows that several widely accepted views concerning the nature of perception---including both representational and non-representational views---likewise face the many-property problem. It then presents a solution to the many-property problem for these views, but goes on to show how this solution can be adapted to provide a novel, fully compositional solution to the many-property problem for adverbialism. Thus, with respect to the (...) many-property problem, adverbialism and several widely accepted views in the philosophy of perception are on a par, and the problem is solved. (shrink)
In this paper I show that we have strong empirical and theoretical reasons to treat the verbs we use in our semantic theorizing—particularly ‘refers to ’, ‘applies to ’, and ‘is true of ’—as intensional transitive verbs. Stating our semantic theories with intensional vocabulary allows us to partially reconcile two competing approaches to the nature and subject-matter of semantics: the Chomskian approach, on which semantics is non-relational, internalistic, and concerns the psychology of language users, and the Lewisian approach, on which (...) semantics is fully relational, specifies truth-conditions, and has metaphysical implications. ITVs have two readings: an intensional, de dicto reading, and a relational, de re reading. A semantic theory stated with the de dicto readings of our semantic verbs captures the core insights of the Chomskian approach to semantics, in part because it allows us to assign extremely fine-grained semantic values to expressions, even when those expressions are empty. On the other hand, the de re reading yields a theory that is fully relational, and issues in truth-conditions. The resulting theories are related—and compatible—in that they are expressed by two different readings of the very same semantic vocabulary, and plausibly, the distinction between these two readings is one of scope. (shrink)
This dissertation lays the foundation for a new theory of non-relational intentionality. The thesis is divided into an introduction and three main chapters, each of which serves as an essential part of an overarching argument. The argument yields, as its conclusion, a new account of how language and thought can exhibit intentionality intrinsically, so that representation can occur in the absence of some thing that is represented. The overarching argument has two components: first, that intentionality can be profi tably studied (...) through examination of the semantics of intensional transitive verbs (ITVs), and second, that providing intensional transitive verbs with a nonrelational semantics will serve to provide us with (at least the beginnings of) a non-relational theory of intentionality. This approach is a generalization of Anscombe's views on perception. Anscombe held that perceptual verbs such as "see" and "perceive" were ITVs, and that understanding the semantics of their object positions could help us to solve the problems of hallucination and illusion, and provide a theory of perception more generally. I propose to apply this strategy to intentional states and the puzzles of intentionality more generally, and so Anscombe's influence will be felt all through the dissertation. -/- In the first chapter, titled "Semantic Verbs are Intensional Transitives", I argue that semantic verbs such as "refers to", "applies to", and "is true of" have all of the features of intensional transitive verbs, and discuss the consequences of this claim for semantic theory and the philosophy of language. One theoretically enriching consequence of this view is that it allows us to perspicuously express, and partially reconcile two opposing views on the nature and subject-matter of semantics: the Chomskian view, on which semantics is an internalistic enterprise concerning speakers' psychologies, and the Lewisian view, on which semantics is a fully externalistic enterprise issuing in theorems about how the world must look for our natural language sentences to be true. Intensional Transitive Verbs have two readings: a de dicto reading and a de re reading; the de dicto reading of ITVs is plausibly a nonrelational reading, and the intensional features peculiar to this reading make it suitable for expressing a Chomskian, internalist semantic program. On the other hand, the de re reading is fully relational, and make it suitable for expressing the kinds of word-world relations essential to the Lewisian conception of semantics. And since the de dicto and de re readings are plausibly related as two distinct scopal readings of the very same semantic postulates, we can see these two conceptions of semantics as related by two scopal readings of the very same semantic postulates. -/- In chapter two, titled "Hallucination and the New Problem of Empty Names", I argue that the problem of hallucination and the problem of empty names are, at bottom, the same problem. I argue for this by reconstructing the problem of empty names in way that is novel, but implicit in much of the discussion on empty names. I then show how, once recast in this light, the two problems are structurally identical down to an extremely fine level of granularity, and also substantially overlap in terms of their content. If the problems are identical in the way I propose, then we should expect that their spaces of solutions are also identical, and there is signi cant support for this conclusion. However, there are some proposed solutions to the problem of hallucination that have been overlooked as potential solutions to the problem of empty names, and this realization opens new non-relational approaches to the problem of empty names, and to the nature of meaning more generally. -/- In chapter three, titled "Intensionality is Additional Phrasal Unity", I argue for a novel approach to the semantics of intensional contexts. At the heart of my proposal is the Quinean view that intensional contexts should, from the perspective of the semantics, be treated as units, with the material in them contributing to the formation of a single predicate. However, this proposal is subject to a number of objections, including the criticism that taken at face value, this would render intensional contexts, which seem to be fully productive, non-compositional. I begin by discussing the concept of the unity of the phrase, and pointing to various ways that phrases can gain additional unity. I then proposes that the intensionality of intensional transitive verbs is best construed as a form of semantic incorporation; ITVs, on their intensional readings, meet all of the criteria for qualifying as incorporating the nominals in their object positions. I then give a semantics for ITVs that builds on existing views of the semantics of incorporation structures, and gesture at how this can be extended to intensional clausal verbs, including the so-called propositional attitude verbs. (shrink)
Ramsification is a well-known method of defining theoretical terms that figures centrally in a wide range of debates in metaphysics. Prior's puzzle is the puzzle of why, given the assumption that that-clauses denote propositions, substitution of "the proposition that P" for "that P" within the complements of many propositional attitude verbs sometimes fails to preserve truth, and other times fails to preserve grammaticality. On the surface, Ramsification and Prior's puzzle appear to have little to do with each other. But Prior's (...) puzzle is much more general than is ordinarily appreciated, and Ramsification requires a solution to the generalized form of Prior's puzzle. Without such a solution, a wide range of theories will either fail to imply their Ramsey sentences, or have Ramsey sentences that are ill-formed. As a consequence, definitions of theoretical terms given using the Ramsey sentence will be either incorrect or nonsensical. I present a partial solution to the puzzle that requires making use of a neo-Davidsonian language for scientific theorizing, but the would-be Ramsifier still faces serious challenges. (shrink)
According to the resemblance account of 'what it's like' and similar constructions, a sentence such as 'there is something it’s like to have a toothache' means 'there is something having a toothache resembles'. This account has proved controversial in the literature; some writers endorse it, many reject it. We show that this conflict is illusory. Drawing on the semantics of intensional transitive verbs, we show that there are two versions of the resemblance account, depending on whether 'resembles' is construed notionally (...) or relationally. While well-known criticisms of the resemblance account undermine its relational version, they do not touch its notional version. On the contrary, the notional version is equivalent to various accounts usually interpreted as rivals to resemblance. We end by noting that this resolution of the controversy (a) explains why 'like', which is a comparative, appears in a construction that concerns the properties of events, and (b) removes any pressure to suppose that 'like' is ambiguous between a comparative and a non-comparative sense. (shrink)
Prior’s puzzle is standardly taken to be the puzzle of why, given the assumption that that-clauses denote propositions, substitution of “the proposition that P” for “that P” within the complements of many propositional attitude verbs is invalid. I show that Prior’s puzzle is much more general than is ordinarily supposed. There are two variants on the substitutional form of the puzzle—a quantificational variant and a pronominal variant—and all three forms of the puzzle arise in a wide range of grammatical positions, (...) rather than merely in the complements of propositional attitude verbs. The generalized puzzle shows that a range of proposed solutions to the original puzzle fail, or are radically incomplete, and also reveals the connections between Prior’s puzzle and debates over the nature of semantic types and higher-order quantification. I go on to develop a novel, higher-order solution to the generalized form of the puzzle, and I argue that this higher-approach is superior to its first-order alternatives. (shrink)
This paper shows that direct-object perceptual verbs, such as "hear", "smell", "taste", "feel", and "see", share a collection of distinctive semantic behaviors with depictive verbs, among which are "draw'', "paint", "sketch", and "sculpt". What explains these behaviors in the case of depictives is that they are causative verbs, and have lexical decompositions that involve the creation of concrete artistic artifacts, such as pictures, paintings, and sculptures. For instance, "draw a dog" means "draw a picture of a dog", where the latter (...) occurrence of "draw" denotes a creative activity. While perceptual verbs are not obviously causatives, they have analogous decompositions involving noun phrases that denote modality-specific sense-objects, such as a sounds, smells, flavors, touches, and sights. Thus, "hear a trumpet" means "hear the sound of a trumpet", and the same holds, mutatis mutandis, for verbs denoting the other sensory modes. If we take this analogy at face value, our perceptual reports will commit us to a form of the sense-datum theory of perception. While the analogy can be resisted, resistance requires taking on unexpected commitments. (shrink)
In this paper I present an empirical solution to the puzzle of Macbeth's dagger. The puzzle of Macbeth's dagger is the question of whether, in having his fatal vision of a dagger, Macbeth sees a dagger. I answer this question by addressing a more general one: the question of whether perceptual verbs are intensional transitive verbs (ITVs). I present seven experiments, each of which tests a collection of perceptual verbs for one of the three features characteristic of ITVs. One of (...) these features is Nonexistence: the failure of sentences involving transitive verbs to entail the existence of their direct objects. The experiments reveal that with respect to all three of these features, "see" behaves much more like a paradigmatically extensional verb than an intensional one. But surprisingly, unlike "see", "perceive" behaves much more like a paradigmatically intensional verb. This shows that the category of perceptual verbs is not uniform with respect to the features of intensionality; while Macbeth does not see a dagger, he may still perceive one. (shrink)
Justin D’Ambrosio and I have recently and independently defended perceptual adverbialism from Frank Jackson’s well-known Many-Properties Problem. Both of us make use of a similar strategy: characterizing ways of perceiving by using the language of objects, and not just of properties. But while D’Ambrosio’s view does indeed validate the inferences that Jackson’s challenge highlights, it does so at the price of validating additional, invalid inferences, such as the inference from the claim that a small child hallucinates a bottle of (...) aspirin to the claim that the child hallucinates a bottle of acetylsalicylic acid. My view avoids this. The crucial difference is that D’Ambrosio appeals to success conditions, which are extensional, while I appeal to informational content, which is not. (shrink)
Ken Forbus's Qualitative Process Theory (QPT) is a popular theory for reasoning about the physical aspects of the daily world. Qualitative Process Theory Using Linguistic Variables by Bruce D'Ambrosio (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1989) is an attempt to fill some gaps in QPT.
In a recent paper, Justin D’Ambrosio (2020) has offered an empirical argument in support of a negative solution to the puzzle of Macbeth’s dagger—namely, the question of whether, in the famous scene from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth sees a dagger in front of him. D’Ambrosio’s strategy consists in showing that “seeing” is not an existence-neutral verb; that is, that the way it is used in ordinary language is not neutral with respect to whether its complement exists. In this paper, we (...) offer an empirical argument in favor of an existence-neutral reading of “seeing”. In particular, we argue that existence-neutral readings are readily available to language users. We thus call into question D’Ambrosio’s argument for the claim that Macbeth does not see a dagger. According to our positive solution, Macbeth sees a dagger, even though there is not a dagger in front of him. (shrink)
In philosophical interpretations of the Laozi the function of the ‘sage’ is a relatively under concentrated on topic. Although nearly every scholar does have something to say about the sage, comments are usually brief and often revolve around the sage as some particular character-type; for example highlighting the sage as a ‘sage-ruler’. In this article we will argue that the sage serves as a tool for understanding the major concepts, thinking, and logic of the Laozi. While the sage does often (...) refer to the sage-ruler this does not mean all references are politically orientated, and even those that are can easily be applied to a host of social situations. This paper thus seeks to appreciate the context for what the Laozi says by looking at how the text itself envisions the embodiment of its ideas through reference to the sage. (shrink)
The ideals of creativity and equality are expressed in what the education system pretends to be, not what it is. Creativity in education is the idea that each student is a unique creative individual whose cultivation of his/her "inner self" is fostered by the education system. Equality is said to exist because students are supposed to be marked or graded equally, thereby allowing all students equal opportunity to communicate in education. These ideal values of how education should be are considered (...) good because they allow educators and politicians to develop policies that are supposed to steer the education system closer to them. Furthermore, it is commonly believed that these ideals, though not fully actualized, are to some extent realized in the current system of education in North America. Many students believe that the education system is largely humane, their individual ideas matter, and are judged with some degree of fairness. When students apply to universities they do so believing that they will be considered as persons, equally among other persons. However, the reality of the system of education is far from being either creative or equal. Communication in education that exists today does not reflect the student's "inner self" nor does the educational system foster genuine equality. In reality, the best way for a student to be accepted into a university is by creating the finest possible application, and to do so students should abandon the ideals of creativity and equality. (shrink)
This essay is meant to shed light on a discourse that spans centuries and includes different voices. To be aware of such trans-textual resonances can add a level of historical understanding to the reading of philosophical texts. Specifically, we intend to demonstrate how the notion of the ineffable Dao 道, prominently expressed in the Daodejing 道德經, informs a long discourse on incongruent names in distinction to a mainstream paradigm that demands congruity between names and what they designate. Thereby, we trace (...) the development of the idea of the ineffable Dao quite differently from modern mystical interpretations. We show how, in an early Chinese context, it first gives rise to a sociopolitical critique of the incongruity underlying socially constructed names in the Zhuangzi 莊子, then to a discourse on the incongruity between moral virtues and names in Xuanxue 玄學 philosophy, and eventually to Sengzhao’s 僧肇 claim that a perceived congruence of names with things does not entail actual congruence between names and reality. (shrink)
In this paper we will discuss some basic aspects of the global theory of dynamical systems. Rather than entering in technical derivations, we will try to emphasize the main points of the concept of dynamical systems which lead us to the generalization presented here, as well as some results that are easily generalized. Besides, some considerations of philosophical nature will be made.
In recent years Michael Sandel’s communitarian criticism of John Rawls’s theory of justice has gained much attention in philosophical circles. Specifically, he takes issue with the conception of the self—implicit in Rawls’s “veil of ignorance”: an extraction of the individual from their social environment, which creates an “unencumbered self” that is then used to theorize about justice. Sandel believes that some social ties are so deeply embedded in the human experience that even hypothetical isolation of the individual is likely to (...) lead ethical thinking astray. Additionally, he thinks that human emotions and other circumstantial considerations need to be taken into account. His emphasis on the situated self has... (shrink)
Sungmoon Kim's Public Reason Confucianism: Democratic Perfectionism and Constitutionalism in East Asia offers new perspectives and an innovative alternative to one of the most important philosophical and political discussions concerning East Asia today. As in the prequel, Confucian Democracy in East Asia: Theory and Practice, arguments provided by Kim are well researched and engage extensively with major theories in the current debate. In this book, Kim is mainly in dialogue with the works of Daniel Bell, Joseph Chan, Jonathan Quong, John (...) Rawls, and Joseph Raz. Both in terms of the content and structure, Public Reason Confucianism is systematic, neatly organized, tight... (shrink)
The paper aims at proposing an extended notion of epigenesis acknowledging an actual causal import to the phenotypic dimension for the evolutionary diversification of life forms. “Introductory remarks” section offers introductory remarks on the issue of epigenesis contrasting it with ancient and modern preformationist views. In “Transmutation of forms: phenotypic variation, diversification, and complexification” section we propose to intend epigenesis as a process of phenotypic formation and diversification dependent on environmental influences, independent of changes in the genomic nucleotide sequence, and (...) occurring during the whole life span. Then, “Evolvability and phenotypic evolution” section focuses on phenotypic plasticity and offers an overview of basic properties that allows biological systems to be evolvable—i.e. to have the potentiality of producing phenotypic variation. Successively, the emphasis is put on environmentally-induced modifications in the regulation of gene expression giving rise to phenotypic variation and diversification. After some brief considerations on the debated issue of epigenetic inheritance, the issue of culture is considered. The key point is that, in the case of humans and of the evolutionary history of the genus Homo at least, the environment is also, importantly, the cultural environment. Thus, “Bio-cultural feedback” section argues that a bio-cultural feedback should be acknowledged in the “epigenic” processes leading to phenotypic diversification and innovation in Homo evolution. Finally, “Brain plasticity and cultural neural reuse” section introduces the notion of “cultural neural reuse”, which refers to phenotypic/neural modifications induced by specific features of the cultural environment that are effective in human cultural evolution without involving genetic changes. Therefore, cultural neural reuse may be regarded as a key instance of the bio-cultural feedback and ultimately of the extended notion of epigenesis proposed in this work. (shrink)
Are you familiar with Michael Sandel’s work?Yes I am. In the nineties I read several books on communitarianism, including Michael Sandel’s Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy.What do you think of communitarianism?I discussed communitarianism in my books Five Essays from 1999 and, especially, Historical Ontology more than ten years ago. My thoughts have not changed since then. Simply put, I think communitarianism is the product of developed countries with long traditions of liberalism. It has referential value, but (...) if directly or indiscriminately adopted in other societies it can be quite dangerous.In recent years Sandel has become very... (shrink)
Despite the wide use of "Neo-Daoism" to refer to Wei-Jin Xuanxue 玄學, scholars who research this philosophy often describe the movement as generally being much more than a "continuation of Daoism."1 Feng Youlan 馮友蘭, who introduced the term "Neo-Daoism," gives the second section of his chapter on "Neo-Taoism: The Rationalists" the title "A Reinterpretation of Confucius". Feng explains that "some of the important Confucian Classics were accepted by the Neo-Taoists, though in the process they were reinterpreted according to the spirit (...) of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu". Similarly, Wing-tsit Chan notes of Xuanxue thinkers that, "[w]hile they are Taoistic in their... (shrink)
This research aims to examine access to medical treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic for people living with disabilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the practical and ethical problems of allocating limited medical resources such as intensive care unit beds and ventilators became critical. Although different countries have proposed different guidelines to manage this emergency, these proposed criteria do not sufficiently consider people living with disabilities. People living with disabilities are therefore at a higher risk of exclusion from medical treatments as physicians (...) tend to assume they have poor quality of life, whereas access to medical treatment should be based on several parameters, including clinical data and prognosis. However, the COVID-19 pandemic shifts the medical paradigm from person-centred medicine to community-centred medicine, challenging the main ethical theories. We reviewed the main guidelines and recommendations for resources allocation and examined their position toward persons with disabilities. Based on our findings, we propose criteria for not discriminating against people with disabilities in allocating resources. The shift from person-centred to community-centred medicine offers opportunities but also risks sacrificing the most vulnerable people. The principle of reasonable accommodation must always be considered to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities. (shrink)
In recent years, philosophical ideas developed during the Wei-Jin period, broadly referred to as xuanxue in Chinese and ‘Neo-Daoism’ or ‘Dark Learning’ in English, have been accorded increasing attention in academia. This article provides an introduction to some major thinkers of the Wei-Jin period, addressing both their original writings and recent scholarly interpretations. The article aims to demonstrate that many Wei-Jin period intellectuals formed their theories through reinterpreting the relationship between texts associated with Daoism and Confucianism. Thinkers of this period (...) often attempted to show how these defining ‘schools’ of pre-Qin Chinese thought did not propose theories that were fundamentally inconsistent, and that their ideas could be woven together as elements of a coherent view. This intellectual movement can thus be, and often has been, viewed as an attempt to integrate Daoism and Confucianism. However, a more nuanced reading demonstrates that these thinkers were reworking the relationship between what were seen as predominately Daoist or Confucian themes from their very foundation. Accordingly, the common description of Wei-Jin thinkers as ‘Daoist’ is decidedly incongruous. (shrink)
In this paper it is assumed a broad conceptualization of Science which allows far looking into common practices which are apparently unstructured forms of knowledge. This result from a concept of culture which is the result of an hierarchization of behavior. In this theoretical framewark the concept of ethnoscience is analysed.
In _On Human Action and Practical Wisdom_, Yang Guorong offers a description of wisdom and action based on his “concrete metaphysics.” Yang attempts to go beyond the excessively linguistic, logical, and abstract focus found in the American analytic tradition.
Christian Protestants typically affirm both the essential moral perfection of heaven and the sufficiency of saving faith. Yet these two commitments generatean apparently self-destructive dilemma—one I call the dilemma of sanctification. The prima facie puzzle can be resolved in at least three ways. In this paper, I articulate the dilemma of sanctification in some detail and offer an argument against a widely-held Protestant solution I call provisionism. This constitutes indirect support for the solution I find most promising, namely, a doctrine (...) of purgatory. I close by sketching a model of purgatory consistent with Protestant soteriology. (shrink)
Li Zehou is perhaps best known among Western audiences for his work on aesthetics. This is mainly due to the fact that translations of his writings available in English are mostly limited to his aesthetics.1 The content of A Response to Michael Sandel and Other Matters differs greatly from these previous translations. Published in Chinese in 2014, it is one of Li’s most recent books, and in it he discusses several main points of the systematic philosophical outlook he has developed (...) over recent decades, and places them in relation to Western liberalism. A Response thus aims far beyond responding to Michael Sandel’s views on justice and morality as presented in the... (shrink)
As the extent our impact on the environment becomes ever more clear, the search for ways to limit or even remedy some negative effects of our actions broadens. From science to religion, scholars in almost every field have been working hard to try to contribute to a healthier relationship between human beings and the natural world. In the humanities the issue is somewhat difficult. Because the topic is relatively new, there are few thinkers or traditions that deal with relevant environmental (...) problems. One of the traditions that has been popularly associated with discussions of environmentally friendly philosophies is Daoism. In fact, the word Daoism, or dao jia in Chinese, takes dao as central for its philosophy. In the daodejing , dao is given an ontological priority that makes it sound something like “nature” and would thereby provide an early Chinese model for environmentalism. The difficulty is, however, that dao can never be separated from anything in the world, including humans, which means that it cannot be understood as a nature that may provide ethical or moral guides for how one should behave. Strictly speaking, there is no classical Chinese equivalent to the nature of modern ecology. But this does not result in a dead end for environmentalist readings of Daoist texts. In fact, viewed from the perspective of using things, and how people interact with tools and consider profits, it is precisely because the Daoist have no conception of “nature” that they have so much to offer environmentalism. (shrink)
In recent years, universities throughout the People’s Republic of China have begun actively seeking foreign professors to work full-time in their philosophy departments. This, coupled with the decrease in the number of job openings in philosophy across western Europe and North America, might very well lead to a sharp rise in the number of foreign faculty members in philosophy departments across mainland China. In this article I will outline three of the major difficulties facing philosophy teachers who have little or (...) no experience in the Chinese education system, and provide suggestions for dealing with them. The first two are general and apply to a broad range of courses; namely, initiating class discussion and teaching students how to understand philosophical arguments. The third is specifically related to those who teach or engage with Chinese thought. These professors should be prepared to encounter a surmountable but pronounced skepticism among many Chinese students against the ability of foreigners to truly comprehend Chinese philosophy. (shrink)
The past few years have seen a dramatic backlash against identity politics from academics such as Michael Sandel, Kwame Appiah, Mark Lilla, and Francis Fukuyama. In the vocabulary of identity conceptions, we can classify this as a reaction to a growing dissatisfaction with the perceived hollowness and ineffectiveness of “authenticity” that calls for a return to “sincerity”—or a “Political New Sincerity.” We argue that a third identity paradigm is in play as well, namely “profilicity.” This profile-based approach to understanding oneself, (...) others, and the world has had a major impact on social and political life, and yet has gone largely unnoticed or otherwise been mis-diagnosed. Our analysis provides a critical reflection on the emergence of profilicity to pave the way for developing insights into our changing sociopolitical and inter-personal landscapes. (shrink)
Gender in Chinese Philosophy The concept of gender is foundational to the general approach of Chinese thinkers. Yin and yang, core elements of Chinese cosmogony, involve correlative aspects of “dark and light,” “female and male,” and “soft and hard.” These notions, with their deeply-rooted gender connotations, recognize the necessity of interplay between these different forces … Continue reading Gender in Chinese Philosophy →.
ABSTRACTThe perspective on zhi 知 is often identified as a key distinction between the Zhuangzi 莊子 and its most famous commentator, Guo Xiang 郭象. Many scholars who recognize this distinction observe that zhi almost always has negative connotations in Guo Xiang’s writing, whereas certain types of knowledge can be positive in the Zhuangzi In this way, Guo Xiang’s comments on zhi seem to stray from the ‘original meaning’ of the Zhuangzi, and are often dismissed as inaccurate mis-readings, imbued with mysticism (...) and relativism. However, by taking into consideration some aspects of Guo Xiang’s socio-historical context, and the larger structure of his complex philosophical system, we find a project quite distinct from that of the Zhuangzi. Like many other Wei-Jin period thinkers, Guo aims bridging some of the gaps the Daoist classic creates between itself and the Confucian tradition. This exposes Guo Xiang’s first goal, which,... (shrink)
As the extent our impact on the environment becomes ever more clear, the search for ways to limit or even remedy some negative effects of our actions broadens. From science to religion, scholars in almost every field have been working hard to try to contribute to a healthier relationship between human beings and the natural world. In the humanities the issue is somewhat difficult. Because the topic is relatively new, there are few thinkers or traditions that deal with relevant environmental (...) problems. One of the traditions that has been popularly associated with discussions of environmentally friendly philosophies is Daoism. In fact, the word Daoism, or dao jia in Chinese, takes dao as central for its philosophy. In the daodejing, dao is given an ontological priority that makes it sound something like “nature” and would thereby provide an early Chinese model for environmentalism. The difficulty is, however, that dao can never be separated from anything in the world, including humans, which means that it cannot be understood as a nature that may provide ethical or moral guides for how one should behave. Strictly speaking, there is no classical Chinese equivalent to the nature of modern ecology. But this does not result in a dead end for environmentalist readings of Daoist texts. In fact, viewed from the perspective of using things, and how people interact with tools and consider profits, it is precisely because the Daoist have no conception of “nature” that they have so much to offer environmentalism. (shrink)