Reminder: Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy lecture on Truth and Argument in Ancient Chinese Philosophy Dec 6 @5:30pm

(A reminder about this upcoming lecture this Friday, December 6.)



BRYAN VAN NORDEN (Vassar College)

With responses from:

TIMOTHY CONNOLLY (East Stroudsburg University)

Please join us at Columbia University’s Religion department on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 5:30 for his lecture called:

“Truth and Argument in Ancient Chinese Philosophy”


Most informed students of comparative Chinese-Western philosophy would agree with the following four claims: 

  1. Chinese philosophy is almost always concerned with truths that have ethical and social implications, whereas Western philosophy is sometimes concerned with purely theoretical puzzle-solving.
  2. Nonetheless, historically speaking, most Western philosophers have in fact been motivated to philosophize by ethical and social concerns.  The trend toward theoretical puzzle-solving is largely characteristic of some 20th century philosophy, particularly in the English-speaking world.
  3. Aristotle invented the first form of formal, deductive logic in the West, whereas Chinese philosophers were much more interested in the complexities of ordinary language arguments.
  4. Nonetheless, philosophers in both China and the West give philosophical arguments – and sometimes structurally similar philosophical arguments – without needing to use formal logic.

Controversy remains, though, over the proper way to understand the role of “truth” in Chinese philosophy.  In particular, some interpreters have claimed that Chinese philosophers would not accept a Correspondence Theory of Truth or, more radically, were unconcerned with truth at all.  Consequently, most of my talk will address two issues:

  1. Did Chinese thinkers assume something like a Correspondence Theory of Truth?
  2. Were Chinese thinkers interested in truth in any sense?

In short, my responses to these questions will be:

  1. It depends on what you mean by a “Correspondence Theory.”
  2. Of course.

December 6, 2013, 5:30-7:30 pm

Rm. 101, 80 Claremont Ave, Columbia University



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