New Issue of Comparative Philosophy

Bou Mou, Editor of Comparative Philosophy, writes to report that the new special issue (volume 4, no.1 / January 2013) of Comparative Philosophy, celebrating the the tenth anniversary of the ISCWP, has been published at the journal website

This special issue consists of five peer-reviewed articles by ISCWP members from different geographic areas in the world, Steve Angle (USA), Chung-I Lin (Taiwan/ROC), Stephen Palmquist (Hong Kong), Henrique Schneider (Austria) and Dean Walsh (USA), together with the “Introduction” by ISCWP President Sor-hoon Tan (Singapore).

Volume 4 No.1 (January 2013)

EDITOR’s Words                                                                                                            1



TAN, Sor-hoon / Introduction


ANGLE, Stephen C. /
Contemporary Confucian and Islamic Approaches to Democracy and Human Rights

LIN, Chung-I /
Mohist Approach to the Rule-Following Problem

PALMQUIST, Stephen R. /
A Daoist Model for a Kantian Church

SCHNEIDER, Henrique /
Reading Han Fei as “Social Scientist”: A Case-Study in “Historical Correspondence”

WALSH, Sean Drysdale /
Mencius’ Jun-zi, Aristotle’s Megalopsuchos, & Moral Demands to Help the Global Poor


Stephen C. Angle (Professor, Department of Philosophy,  Wesleyan University , USA):
Contemporary Confucian and Islamic Approaches to Democracy and Human Rights ”
Both Confucian and Islamic traditions stand in fraught and internally contested relationships with democracy and human rights. It can easily appear that the two traditions are in analogous positions with respect to the values associated with modernity, but a central contention of this essay is that Islam and Confucianism are not analogous in this way. Positions taken by advocates of the traditions are often similar, but the reasoning used to justify these positions differs in crucial ways. Whether one approaches these questions from an intra-traditional, cross-traditional, or multi-traditional perspective, the essay shows that there is great value in getting clear on the ways in which one’s textual “canon” may constrain one. In the end, we will see that while there are creative Islamic approaches to taking human rights seriously, the looser constraints under which Confucians operate today may make things easier for Confucian advocates of human rights and democracy.
Keywords: Confucianism, Islam, human rights, democracy, tradition, rooted global philosophy, Abu’l-A’la Mawdudi, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Fatima Mernissi, Kang Xiaoguang, Jiang Qing, Tu Wei-ming, Sin-yee Chan, Daniel Bell

Chung-I Lin (Professor, Graduate Institute of Humanities in Medicine, Taipei Medical University; Professor, Department of Philosophy, National Chengchi University, Taiwan / ROC):
Mohist Approach to the Rule-Following Problem
The Mohist conceives the dao-following issue as “how we can put dao in words and speeches into practice.” The dao-following issue is the Mohist counterpart of Wittgenstein’s rule-following problem. This paper aims to shed light on the rule-following issue in terms of the Mohist answer to the dao-following problem. The early Mohist takes fa(法, standard)and the later Mohist takes lei(類, analogy)as the key to the dao-following issue. I argue that the way of fa is not viable. Fa comes in various forms, but all of them are regarded as being cut off from everyday life and therefore subject to various interpretations and, hence, incapable of action-guiding. On the other hand, the Mohist lei represents a kind of life world action drama. A lei situates various elements of action in the context of an everyday life scene. I argue that lei is more qualified than fa in answering to the dao-following issue. I also show that lei substantializes what McDowell calls the “course between a Scylla and a Charybdis” hinted in terms of Wittgenstein’s idea of “custom,” “practice,” and “institution” in regard to the rule-following problem.
Keywords: rule-following, dao-following, McDowell, Mohist, leifa

Stephen R. Palmquist (Professor, Department of Religion & Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong):
A Daoist Model for a Kantian Church
Although significant differences undoubtedly exist between Daoism and Kant’s philosophy, the two systems also have some noteworthy similarities. After calling attention to a few such parallels and sketching the outlines of Kant’s philosophy of religion, this article focuses on an often-neglected feature of the latter: the four guiding principles of what Kant calls an “invisible church” (universality, purity, freedom, and unchangeableness). Numerous passages from Lao Zi’s classic text, Dao-De-Jing, seem to uphold these same principles, thus suggesting that they can also be interpreted as core features of a Daoist philosophy of life. A crucial difference, however, is that members of a Daoist church would focus on contentment, whereas Kantian churches modeled on Christianity (the religious tradition Kant favored) would strive for perfection. The article therefore concludes by considering what a synthesis might look like, if a Kantian church were to be based on a Daoist interpretation of these four fundamental principles.
Keywords: Kant, Lao Zi, church, Dao-De-Jing, Daoism, comparative philosophy

Henrique Schneider (Professor, Department of Economics, University of Vienna, Austria):
Reading Han Fei as “Social Scientist”: A Case-Study in “Historical Correspondence”
Han Fei was one of the main proponents of Legalism in Qin-era China. Although his works are mostly read from a historic perspective, the aim of this paper is to advance an interpretation of Han Fei as a “social scientist”. The social sciences are the fields of academic scholarship that study society and its institutions as a consequence of human behavior. Methodologically, social sciences combine abstract approaches in model-building with empiric investigations, seeking to prove the functioning of the models. In a third step, social sciences also aim at providing policy advice. Han Fei can be read as operating similarly. First, he builds a model of the nature of men, the state, and its interconnections, and then he uses history as empiric ground to prove his models. Again, after studying society as a “raw fact”, Han Fei develops models on how to deal with “society”. This article examines the “social scientific” inclinations of Han Fei by re-reading Chapter 49 of the Han-Fei-Zi and applying an analysis in “historical correspondence”. This article serves as a case-study in this new type of analysis that can prove fruitful for the advancement of comparative philosophy.
Keywords: Han Fei, social science, Qin, Chinese Legalism, philosophy of law

Sean Drysdale Walsh (Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota at Duluth, USA):
Mencius’ Jun-zi, Aristotle’s Megalopsuchos, & Moral Demands to Help the Global Poor
It is commonly believed that impartial utilitarian moral theories have significant demands that we help the global poor, and that the partial virtue ethics of Mencius and Aristotle do not. This ethical partiality found in these virtue ethicists has been criticized, and some have suggested that the partialistic virtue ethics of Mencius and Aristotle are parochial (i.e., overly narrow in their scope of concern). I believe, however, that the ethics of Mencius and Aristotle are both more cosmopolitan than many presume and also are very demanding. In this paper, I argue that the ethical requirements to help the poor and starving are very demanding for the quintessentially virtuous person in Mencius and Aristotle. The ethical demands to help even the global poor are demanding for Mencius’ jun-zi (君子chün-tzu / junzi) and Aristotle’s megalopsuchos. I argue that both the jun-zi and megalopsuchos have a wide scope of concern for the suffering of poor people. I argue that the relevant virtues of the jun-zi and megalopsuchos are also achievable for many people. The moral views of Mencius and Aristotle come with strong demands for many of us to work harder to alleviate global poverty.
Keywords: Mencius, Aristotle, jun-zi (superior gentleman), megalopsuchos (magnanimous man), ren (benevolence), utilitarianism, ethics, partiality, parochial, demandingness, global poverty

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