Daily Archives: July 12, 2012

Practicising to know: Practicalism and Confucian philosophy

This article “Practicising to know: Practicalism and Confucian philosophy” is co-authored by me and one of my colleagues, Stephen Hetherington, an advocate of a version of knowing-how (a version he names ‘Practicalism’). In this paper, we explore how Confucian philosophy lends support to Practicalism.

Practising to Know: Practicalism and Confucian Philosophy. Co-authored with Stephen Hetherington. Published in Philosophy, July 2012, 87 : pp 375-393. Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2012. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031819112000289.


For a while now, there has been much conceptual discussion about the respective natures of knowledge-that and knowledge-how, along with the intellectualist idea that knowledge-how is really a kind of knowledge-that. Gilbert Ryle put in place most of the terms that have so far been distinctive of that debate, when he argued for knowledge-how’s conceptual distinctness from knowledge-that. But maybe those terms should be supplemented, expanding the debate. In that spirit, the conceptual option of practicalism has recently entered the fray. Practicalism conceives anew the nature of knowledge-that, as being a kind of knowledge-how. In this paper we enlarge upon this conceptual suggestion. We draw from an ancient Chinese text, the Analects of Confucius, explaining how it lends some support to practicalism.


New book published

Christian Soffel and Hoyt Cleveland Tillman, Cultural Authority and Political Culture in China: Exploring Issues with the Zhongyong and the Daotong during the Song, Jin and Yuan Dynasties. Stuttgart, Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2012. ISBN 978-3-515-10134-9.

Although the book covers a considerable spectrum of thinkers, especially during the Song, special attention is given to Wang Bo in the Southern Song and Hao Jing in the Yuan. In addition to exploring how the Zhongyong and the Daotong were used to shed light on views of cultural authority, the volume shows the complexity of Zhu Xi’s influence and its limitations in the 13th century — even among those who have been regarded as major followers of his teachings.