Category Archives: Zhao Tingyang

Angle’s Review of Fred Dallmayr and ZHAO Tingyang, eds. Contemporary Chinese Political Thought

A month ago I noted that Sungmoon Kim’s review of Fred Dallmayr and ZHAO Tingyang, eds. Contemporary Chinese Political Thought: Debates and Perspectives had been published at NDPR. My own review for Dao of the same book has now been published on-line first, and should be accessible to those with institutional access to Dao. I’ll paste the first couple paragraphs, as well as the penultimate paragraph (which makes a fairly self-standing point), below.

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Do China’s Traditions Make Chinese People Illogical?

Apparently there is a current meme in China alledging that Chinese people are too often illogical (and, instead, swayed by rhetoric, emotions, and politics) and that the cause of this may be the lack of concern for logical reasoning in China’s philsoophical traditions. Recently a journalist from the magazine Window on the Southern Wind 南风窗 interviewed well-known CASS philosopher Zhao Tingyang concerning these ideas.  The conversation is pretty interesting: Zhao suggests that too much attention to “dialectic” and too little training in logic–and, more generally, in critical reasoning–is the main culprit. He grants that early Chinese classics mainly were concerned with “thought 思想” rather than “theory 理论,” and adds that in this context:


…to have some inconsistencies between a few concepts would not be odd; and we should also consider, life itself is full of contraditions, therefore “thought” that seeks to express life and thus has some self-contradictions is actually in this way reflecting life. This is not to be illogical.

In light of all this, Joachim Kurz’s recent Discovery of Chinese Logic takes on added significance. (My review of Kurz’s excellent book can be found here.)