The cicada catcher focuses as much on technique as he does on outcomes. In response to Confucius’ question, he articulates in detail the learning he has undertaken to develop techniques at each level of competence. This chapter explains the connection between the cicada catcher’s development of technique and his orientation toward outcomes. It uses details in this story to contribute to recent discussions in epistemology on the cultivation of technique.
By examining fundamental Confucian concepts -- zhengming, ren, li, xiao, shu and dao -- the essay demonstrates that Confucian ways of thinking do not always fit neatly into categories such as 'moral' or rights'. The author provides a positive interpretation of certain Confucian ideas including: the concept of a person as a self- in- relation; the notion of responsibility as particularistic and dependent upon the kinds of relationships one has and the social positions one occupies; and the view of the (...) moral community as comprised by selves- in- relation who are reciprocally connected and who share similar ideals and forms of life. (shrink)
In this article, we present an account of ming 明 in the Zhuangzi's Neipian in light of the disagreements among the thinkers of the time. We suggest that ming is associated with the Daoist sage's vision: he sees through the debaters' attempts to win the debates. We propose that ming is primarily a meta-epistemological stance, that is, the sage understands the nature of the debates and does not enter the fray; therefore he does not share the thinkers' anxieties. The sage (...) takes his stance at the pivot of dao and, from there, responds to the different views limitlessly. (shrink)
In this article, we present an account of ming 明 in the Zhuangzi's Neipian in light of the disagreements among the thinkers of the time. We suggest that ming is associated with the Daoist sage's vision: he sees through the debaters' attempts to win the debates. We propose that ming is primarily a meta-epistemological stance, that is, the sage understands the nature of the debates and does not enter the fray; therefore he does not share the thinkers' anxieties. The sage (...) takes his stance at the pivot of dao (daoshu 道樞) and, from there, responds to the different views limitlessly. (shrink)
Since the 1940s, Western epistemology has discussed Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how. Ryle argued that intelligent actions – manifestations of knowledge-how – are not constituted as intelligent by the guiding intervention of knowledge-that: knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that; we must understand knowledge-how in independent terms. Yet which independent terms are needed? In this chapter, we consider whether an understanding of intelligent action must include talk of knowledge-to. This is the knowledge to do this or that now, (...) not then or in general. Our argument is refined and buttressed by consideration of a text in Chinese philosophy, the Lüshi Chunqiu. This 3rd century BCE text, a compendium on good government, focuses on different types of knowledge that an effective ruler or a capable official should possess. A significant number of those discussions concern examples of knowing-how being manifested in particular situations. The text is explicitly aware of the importance of timeliness and awareness of context in manifesting know-how. Some might say that these are merely manifestations of knowing-how. But we see these examples as revealing characteristics of know-how that Ryle did not anticipate. Might knowing-to be an essential and irreducible aspect of intelligent action? (shrink)
The Zhuangzi is noted for its advocacy of many different perspectives—chickens, cicadas, fish and the like. There is much debate in the literature about the implications of Zhuangzi’s pluralist inclinations. I suggest that Zhuangzi highlights the limitations of individual, perspectivally-constrained, knowledge claims. He also spurns the ‘view from nowhere’ and is sceptical about the possibility of an ideal observer. For him, wisdom consists in understanding the epistemological inadequacies of each perspective. I propose that Zhuangzi’s philosophy offers significant insights to an (...) increasingly globalized world characterized by a plurality of ethical and value commitments. It does not assume there will necessarily be universal agreement or a standardized answer. Most importantly, it is a position that seeks to augment self-understanding and enrich the self in dialogue with and response to others. (shrink)
A distinguishing characteristic of Confucianism is its emphasis on learning (xue), is a key element in moral self cultivation. This paper discusses why learning from the experiences of those in the past is important in Confucian learning.
Many scholars note that the Analects, and Confucian philosophy more generally, hold a conception of knowing that more closely approximates ‘knowing-how’ than ‘knowing-that’. However, I argue that this description is not sufficiently sensitive to the concerns of the early Confucians and their focus on self-cultivation. I propose that a particular conception of knowing—knowing to act in the moment—is better suited to capturing the Analects’ emphasis on exemplary lives in actual contexts. These investigations might also contribute to discussions on know-how in (...) epistemology in western philosophy. (shrink)
Many tertiary-level courses assess students’ participation in tutorial or online discussions. However, in educational and pedagogical research literature, criteria for assessing students’ skills in engaging with peers remain unclear. This article describes an online assignment with a set of participation criteria and a method for assessing the quality of students’ interactions with peers. The assignment focuses on students’ ability to utilise their critical thinking skills while engaging with peers on a particular topic. This includes abilities such as responding to criticism, (...) justifying one’s view and contributing to discussion. While the assignment is designed for a critical thinking course in a philosophy curriculum, the method and participation criteria may be adapted for assessment in other discipline areas. (shrink)
Both Ancient Chinese and Greek philosophers provide accounts of the life lived well: a Confucian junzi, a Daoist sage and a Greek phronimos. Cultivation in Early China and Ancient Greece engages in comparative, cross-tradition scholarship and investigates the processes associated with cultivating or nurturing the self in order to live such lives. -/- By focusing on the processes rather than the aims of cultivating a good life, an international team of scholars investigate how a person develops and practices a way (...) of life. They look at what is involved in developing practical wisdom, exercising reason, cultivating equanimity and fostering reliability. Using the thought of those thinkers central to both traditions, including Plato, Confucius, Han Fei and Marcus Aurelius, they examine themes of harmony, balance and beauty, and highlight the different concerns of scepticism across both traditions. They also discuss the action of doing as an indispensable method of learning. As a result, Cultivation in Early China and Ancient Greece is a valuable collection opening up new lines of inquiry in ethics and demonstrating the importance of drawing on philosophical ideas from across cultural traditions. (shrink)
Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi's interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi's view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational proximity and its limits, setting up requirements (...) for moral action in scenarios where relational ties do not play a motivational role. I set out yi's complexity in these discussions, highlighting its implications for (i) the nei-wai debate; (ii) the notion of yi as "rightness," or doing the right thing; and (iii) how we can understand the connection between virtue and right action in these early Confucian debates. This material from the excavated texts not only provides new perspectives on a longstanding investigation of human nature and morality, it also challenges prevailing views on Warring States Confucian intellectual history. In the well-known debate between Mengzi and Gaozi in Mencius 6A, Mengzi maintained that both ren and yi are naturally-given 1 in human nature. The figure 1 To say that ren and yi are naturally-given is not to say that they are fully-developed from the start. I use the phrase "naturally-given" throughout the paper to indicate where a particular capacity or resource (ren or yi) may be found, rather than its final polished state. (shrink)
Discussions of human partiality—anthropocentrism—in the literature in environmental ethics have sought to locate reasons for unnecessary and thoughtless degradation of the earth’s environment. Many of the debates have focused on metaethical issues, attempting to set out the values appropriate for an environmental ethic not constrained within an anthropocentric framework. In this essay, I propose that the fundamental problem with anthropocentrism arises when it is assumed that that is the only meaningful evaluative perspective. I draw on ideas in the Zhuangzi, a (...) classical Chinese philosophical text of the Daoist tradition. The Zhuangzi scrutinises the debates of its day, focusing on the attitudes of the thinkers who sought to trump others in the debates. Through many images expressed in stories, the Zhuangzi asserts the irreducibility of individual perspectives, challenging its readers to examine the insularity of their own views. I suggest that the epistemological awareness in the Zhuangzi helps in our understanding of anthropocentrism. (shrink)
In the Lunyu, Confucius remarks on the implausibility—or impossibility—of a life lacking in xin 信, reliability (2.22). In existing discussions of Confucian philosophy, this aspect of life is often eclipsed by greater emphasis on Confucian values such as ren 仁 (benevolence), li 禮 (propriety) and yi 義 (rightness). My discussion addresses this imbalance by focusing on reliability, extending current debates in two ways. First, it proposes that the common translation of xin as denoting coherence between a person’s words and deeds (...) is inadequate. The translation fails to capture the longer-term consistency in a person’s actions and behaviours in different circumstances across time. Second, it explores how the Lunyu passages discuss the processes of learning that prepare a person for reliable action. (shrink)
This chapter discusses ren 仁, a major term in the Confucian Analects. It analyzes the range of meanings of ren across different conversations, paying special attention to its associations with other key Confucian terms such as li (禮 behavioural propriety) and zhi (知 understanding). Building on this analysis, the discussion focuses on ren in terms of how it is manifest in a person’s life. In particular, it expresses ren in terms of an exemplary life—a life lived well. The chapter also (...) dwells briefly on how this model of a good life can inform and enrich contemporary debates in ethics. (shrink)