ToC Frontiers of Philosophy in China 10:3

Current Issue: Vol.10, No.3, 2015

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Special Theme: Zhuangzi’s Philosophy

Introduction to the Special Theme on “Zhuangzi’s Philosophy”

Robin R. Wang

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 335-339.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0027-6

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The Tradition of Emotive Writing in the Zhuangzi and Its Echoes in Later Generations

CHEN Guying

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 340-352.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0028-3

As the concluding part of a series of essays on theories of humanity in the Zhuangzi, this essay aims at describing the theme of qing 情 (emotion) as a dual-directional attitude towards qing as a partner to xing 性 (nature) and the influence of this domain of thought on later generations and their continued discussion of it. Faced with a forcible divorce of qing and xing at the hand of Han Dynasty Ruists, which would lock perceptions into a rigid dualist framework, the Wei and Jin period saw authors such as Wang Bi and Ji Kang return to a more faithful rendering of the theme of qing in the classics, the Laozi and Zhuangzi, seeing it become an ever more explicit philosophical topic and beginning a lengthy period of discussion of the theme of qing. In the Northern Song period, representative thinkers Zhang Zai and Wang Anshi The Northern Song tradition constitute a continuance of Pre-Qin Daoist philosophical ideas, providing a logical reinterpretation of the indivisibility of qing and xing from a syncretist approach to the Daoist and Ruist traditions, in a way that drastically differs from the Southern Song preference for xing at the cost of qing, as represented by thinkers such as the Brothers Cheng and Zhu Xi. At the bottom of it, this continued tradition draws from themes that appear in the Zhuangzi, a holistic approach to life and the relationship between humanity and nature, an important and continuous thread in the fabric of human civilisation.

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Authenticity in the Zhuangzi ? Contemporary Misreadings of Zhen 真and an Alternative to Existentialism

Paul J. D’Ambrosio

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 353-379.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0029-0

This essay reviews the Zhuangzian notion of zhen 真, often through the text’s advancement of the zhenren 真人 (“genuine person,” “true person”) or zhenzhi 真知 (“genuine knowledge,” “true knowledge”). Contemporary scholarship, in both Chinese and English, often presents zhen as analogous to the existentialist theory of authenticity, which correspondingly reflects on interpretations of the “self,” and thereby the zhen person. Much of the Zhuangzi is a reaction to the Lunyu, including an ironic response to the Confucian cultivation project. If we establish our interpretation of the “self” against this background then we find that zhen in the Zhuangzi is actually used to argue against the Confucian identification of the person and self through social roles or conventions. However, advocating zhen does not suggest that there is some essential or core “self” to refer to; instead, it implies a natural state of responsiveness where the person acts efficaciously by being in line with what is obvious or affirmed in the situation. This essay thereby presents a reading of zhen that is historically and culturally consistent, and sets up the Zhuangzi as an alternative, and not an echo, to some of the major issues dealt with by the existentialist movement.

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To Die or Not to Die: Zhuangzi’s Three Immortalities

Mark L. Farrugia

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 380-414.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0030-4

While it is known that the problem of death is a central topic animating the author/s of the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi, leading Chinese and Western interpretations of this Chinese classic have usually focused much more on other themes and aspects. Even more problematic in the author’s view is the fact that the Zhuangzi has been closely associated with one death philosophy, the set of concepts, arguments and figures present in chapter 6. This study puts death back at the very center of the Zhuangzian philosophical project yet insisting at the same time on the difficulties of defending one philosophy of death since different passages introduce new concepts, imagery, nuances and perspectives. The Zhuangzi’s focus on death is being situated within a discussion of the “immortality” ideal––accepting a total death (“to die”) or find refuge in immortality ideals (“not to die”). Different passages from the Inner Chapters are being presented as proposing three distinct immortality projects or strategies––personal, social and cosmic––to address the problem of death. E. Becker’s reflections on the challenge of mortality and the psychological need of a “beyond” in order to cope with the consciousness of death provide the basic theoretical framework underlying the discussion of the Zhuangzi in this essay.

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The Spatiality of Cognition in the Zhuangzi

Joanna Guzowska

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 415-429.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0031-1

In this paper I explore the conception of cognition and action found in the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi. More specifically, I focus on the role of explicit and implicit spatial imagery in the context of this complex problem. Spatial imagery suggests that cognition is understood as fundamentally bimodal in the text: (1) the default modality, which is informed by an entrenched distinction pattern, is cast in terms of fullness and bulk; and (2) the auxiliary modality, which is free from this kind of constraint, is imagined in terms of emptiness and lack of bulk, as an axis or point. The latter is the preferred mode of engagement with the environment, according to the Zhuangzi. Spatial imagery brings out the crucial characteristics of this cognitive modality: its radical openness and infinite fecundity in the context of distinction–drawing and action. It also connects with other metaphorical schemata at work in the text, including organic imagery. Interestingly, the notion of emptiness and the figure of an axis do not mark an experience of undifferentiated oneness but the state of heightened sensitivity to the makeup of one’s environment. Such sensitivity allows the agent to entertain the situation at hand without bias and to move around (relatively) conflict–free.

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Research Articles

From Virtue to Freedom through Emotion

Michael Slote

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 430-443.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0032-8

Spinoza conceived human freedom as a matter solely of rationality, but an understanding of the role emotion plays in moral virtue can lead one toward viewing emotionality as also essential to human freedom. A large part of human freedom consists in our tendency to give intrinsic importance to people or things outside ourselves and take them into our lives; this sense of importance, in rich and various ways, brings emotion into the center of our lives and our freedom as individuals.

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Adorno’s View of Life

LUO Songtao

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 444-456.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0033-5

The aim of this article is to reflect on the dialectic of the individual’s life and death in terms of Adorno’s moral philosophy, specifically through a thorough reading of his Negative Dialectics and other key works on the subject. I hold that there are two aspects of the dialectic of life within the context of Adorno’s “nonidentity”: one involves exploring the false identification, due to the reification of modern society, of the individual’s life experience with her or his death experience, while the other involves preserving the dialectical and irreducible tension between the theoretical contemplation of life and of historical conditions, as well as specific social systems. Heidegger’s ontological philosophy concerning Dasein and Kant’s categorical imperative will also be discussed in order to fully understand Adorno’s moral philosophy and his idea of nonidentity. From my point of view, Adorno’s moral philosophy is the prime motivator of his unique concept of nonidentity, and has influenced contemporary political philosophical concepts such as biopolitics (cf. G. Agamben).

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Aristotle on the Unity of Composite Substance

CAO Qingyun

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 457-473.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0034-2

Aristotle claims that a sensible substance is composed of form and matter, while he insists that it is a unity in a strict sense. So there is the question—in what sense can a composite thing be a unity? Aristotle’s key solution lies in his account of matter as potentiality and form as actuality. Many scholars are bewildered by his laconic solutions, and there are mainly two approaches undertaken in interpretations. One is called “projective”; the other is called “explanatory.” But neither interpretation is satisfying. The main tasks of this paper are to reexamine the problem and the two interpretations, then to argue that the composition of a sensible substance should be understood in light of its coming-to-be; that its unity refers to its being a functional unity.

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Can Physical Parts of Substances Be Substances? The Dual Models of Analysis in Aristotle’s Notion of Substance

GE Tianqin

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 474-491.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0035-9

This essay discusses the question of whether the physical parts of a substance per se can still be substances after being separated from whole substances. This paper finds that within his corpus Aristotle gives two contrary answers to that question. To avoid this inconsistency, this essay claims that Aristotle puts forward dual models of analysis when it comes to substances, namely the Artifact Model and the Living Being Model. According to the Artifact Model, the physical parts of a substance per se are still substances after being separated from the whole substance; but according to the Living Being Model, the physical parts of a substance per se are not substances after separation. In addition, this paper also holds that there is a kind of evolutionary relationship of research methodology between the dual models, i.e. the dual models correspond to what is “better known to us” to what is “better known by nature.”

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Is Intuition Necessary for Defending Platonism?

XU Difei

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 492-509.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0036-6

G?del asserts that his philosophy falls under the category of conceptual realism. This paper gives a general picture of G?del’s conceptual realism’s basic doctrines, and gives a way to understand conceptual realism in the background of Leibniz’s and Kant’s philosophies. Among philosophers of mathematics, there is a widespread view that Platonism encounters an epistemological difficulty because we do not have sensations of abstract objects. In his writings, G?del asserts that we have mathematical intuitions of mathematical objects. Some philosophers do not think it is necessary to resort to intuition to defend Platonism, and other philosophers think that the arguments resorting to intuition are too na?ve to be convincing. I argue that the epistemic difficulty is not particular to Platonism; when faced with skepticism, physicalists also need to give an answer concerning the relationship between our experience and reality. G?del and Kant both think that sensations or combinations of sensations are not ideas of physical objects, but that, to form ideas of physical objects, concepts must be added. However, unlike Kant, G?del thinks that concepts are not subjective but independent of our minds. Based on my analysis of G?del’s conceptual realism, I give an answer to the question in the title and show that arguments resorting to intuition are far from na?ve, despite what some philosophers have claimed.

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BOOK Reviews

John Makeham, ed. Transforming Consciousness: Yogācāra Thought in Modern China (edited by JIANG Tao)


Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 510-516.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0037-3

Jonathan C. Gold, Paving the Great Way: Vasubandhu’s Unifying Buddhist Philosophy (edited by Joseph A. Faria)

Joseph A. Faria

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 517-521.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0038-0

Iryŏp Kim, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun: Essays by Zen Master Kim Iryŏp (edited by Sujung Kim)

Sujung Kim

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 522-524.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0039-7

Ithamar Theodor, and Zhihua Yao, eds. Brahman and Dao: Comparative Studies of Indian and Chinese Philosophy and Religion (edited by Ethan Mills)

Ethan Mills

Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (3): 525-527.   DOI: 10.3868/s030-004-015-0042-5

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