Latest issue of FPC

The latest issue of Frontiers of Philosophy in China (Vol.12, No.4, 2017) has been published. It is available at: Read on for abstracts and the Table of Contents.

Special Theme

Introduction to the Special Theme “Ethics and Religion in East Asian and Intercultural Philosophy”

Eric S. Nelson

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 511-514.

Abstract   PDF (283KB)

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Moral Falsity in the Eyes of the Superhuman: The Cases of Socrates and Mozi

Yumi Suzuki

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 515-532.

Abstract   PDF (410KB)

Both Socrates and Mozi are said in Plato’s dialogues and in the Mozi respectively to have claimed that they are living a sort of life following superhuman “intention”: Socrates according to the Delphic oracle, and Mozi the intention of heaven. Some modern philosophers show discomfort with their “superstitious” attitudes, taking the claims literally as a kind of groundless devotion, while others conjecture “sensible” purposes to understand the mystic elements as providing moral lessons. This paper, by responding to these modern revisions of their doctrines, aims at highlighting the necessity of their (re-)introductions of superhuman perspectives to their inquiries. Through examining the similarities in Plato’s and Mohists’ demonstrations, the suggestion made will be that despite countless incommensurable features, heaven’s intention for Mohists offers a fundamental philosophical basis which enables them to develop arguments by means of sharp dichotomies, what is right or wrong, in the same way that Socrates in the Apology and in the Hippias Minor does for the development of Plato’s constructive endeavour beyond his Socratic a/euporetic legacy. Not only are their practices dependent on the presupposition of the existence of a perspective beyond humans, but also the reality of that perspective is established though their own investigative practices.


The Face/Facelessness of the Other—A Levinasian Reading of the Ethical of the Zhuangzi

Ellen Y. Zhang

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 533-553.

Abstract   PDF (316KB)

Emmanuel Levinas’ ethical phenomenology offers a new understanding of what constitutes the core issue of ethics. For Levinas, the word “ethics” becomes a question about the “wholly Other,” the entity that challenges the self-qua-being, thus diverging from the traditional ontological framework of Being in the West, that is, sameness or totality. At first glance, Zhuangzi seems to have little in common with Levinas: The former irreverently mocks all moral principles and ethical norms whereas the latter takes ethics as first philosophy; the former speaks of the faceless as the model of Daoist authenticity whereas the latter speaks of the face as the symbol of moral obligation. Nevertheless, there are plenty of chapters in the Zhuangzi which illustrate how a self-being experiences a profound transfiguration through its encounter with the Other, a constellation which resonates with Levinas’ theme. In this paper, the issue of relationality in the Zhuangzi will be analyzed in light of Levinas’ espousal of alterity, with the purpose of explicating the Daoist appropriation of what I will call “the philosophy of difference.” I will submit the argument that the Zhuangzian notion of freedom and the Daoist conception of a well-lived life are both based upon this philosophy of difference. I will also argue that Daoist ethics, particularly the version expressed by the Zhuangzi, is best understood as a form of “negative ethics.”


Mysticism and Peace of Mind: Reflections on Tugendhat and Daoism

Mario Wenning

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 554-571.

Abstract   PDF (291KB)

Philosophical mysticism is often understood as involving an irrational union with a transcendent reality. This paper challenges this assumption by examining the universal and rational potentials of mysticism. Drawing on Ernst Tugendhat’s interpretation of mysticism as an overcoming of egocentricity and a pursuit of peace of mind, it focuses on philosophical Daoism as a distinctive form of mysticism that emphasizes the rationality of stepping back from one’s excessive volitional attachments in light of the validity of other perspectives. Mysticism, thus conceived, has a distinctive potential that does not depend on religious revelation or ineffable experience. Its genuine appeal consists in stepping back from oneself and one’s desires, even including the pursuit of peace of mind.


Place as Refuge: Exploring the Poetical Legacy of Matsuo Bashō

Patricia Huntington

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 572-590.

Abstract   PDF (321KB)

By drawing on phenomenological notions, this paper offers a “middle way” reading of Bashō’s travelogues that accentuates their religious, rather than merely aesthetical purpose, which is to transmit the Buddha Dharma. Two distinctive poetic traditions of Bashō interpretation exist: the Zen-inflected, monologic, and individualist tradition and the intertextual or dialogical interpretation. One way to reconcile these two strains in Bashō’s poetics is to see his haikai through the lens of mind-to-mind transmission of light. This “middle way” interpretation traces a double movement of phenomenological reduction through two travelogues: first, by showing how home departure entails freeing the mind of fixity and, second, by suggesting that mind-to-mind transmission removes the ambition to find refuge in peak experiences, just as it resists being reduced to parodic subversion of reigning cultural values. In the Buddhist lineage, the heart of transmission rests neither upon conservation nor upon rejection of poetic essences but, rather, lies in transforming haikai into medicine, which is efficacious for the process of awakening.


Existential Dimensions of Korean Neo-Confucianism: The Status of Emotions in the Four-Seven Debate

Halla Kim

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 591-611.

Abstract   PDF (370KB)

This article presents an existential reading of the famous Four-Seven Debate (Siqi Lunzheng 四七論爭). In particular, it approaches the Debate with specific attention to the ways in which it isolated and problematized the human individual situation in communal life. It attempts to analyze the diverse perspectives that were brought into the Debate, and to demonstrate that there was a sophisticated system, with many variations and movements, that informed Korean understandings of how to manage emotions as within the context of sage learning (shengxue 聖學). This study also seeks to uncover the underlying therapeutic measures for treating wayward emotions that were an underlying component at play in all of the important contributions made throughout the many twists and turns within the Debate.


A Phenomenological Approach to the Korean “We”: A Study in Social Intentionality

Hye Young Kim

Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 612-632.

Abstract   PDF (450KB)

This paper explores the phenomenological concept “we” based on a pre-existing understanding of traditional phenomenology alongside a new aspect of the concept by introducing an analysis of “we” in Korean. The central questions of this paper are whether the “we” can be understood as more than a collection of individuals, whether the “we” can precede both “I” and “thou,” and whether the “we” as an extension of the “I” or an extended self should necessarily mean the plural of the “I.”


Research Articles

Causal Relevance of Mental Properties: A Refutation of Kim’s Exclusion Argument


Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 633-647.

Abstract   PDF (302KB)

Non-reductive physicalism is attacked by Jaegwon Kim’s exclusion argument. Kim argues that if mental and physical properties are distinct, then mental properties are causally irrelevant. My task in this paper is to refute this argument and to provide a solution for the problem of mental causation. Taking mental properties as higher-order properties, I attempt to propose a property-exemplification account of events that is compatible with the thesis of token identity. I then attempt to refute the exclusion argument by arguing that mental causation and physical causation are not homogeneous; that is, they are two different kinds of causation. Kim’s exclusion argument only demonstrates the impossibility of a productive conception of mental causation; however, only a difference-making conception is appropriate for mental causation and human agency. If these results are plausible, they would serve as a metaphysical basis for an autonomy approach to mental causation, which attempts to save the causal relevance of mental properties by arguing that there is only intra-level causal relevance.


Is Pain Representation?


Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (4): 648-665.

Abstract   PDF (334KB)

The argument given by strong representationalists about phenomenal consciousness usually has two steps. The first is to identify all phenomenal consciousness with representation. The second is to identify all phenomenal aspects of phenomenal consciousness with certain representational content. Pain is often thought to be a counterexample torepresentationalism. However, current objections from this perspective mostly focus on the second step and try to show that pains have some special qualities that representational content cannot explain. This paper objects to representationalism with regard to pain (that pain is not representation) by way of a focus on the first step. First, it shows that by borrowing the notion of “representation” from the causal co-variation theory of representation, representationalists are not able to demonstrate that pain is representation. Second, by laying out some well-accepted criteria for what counts as representation, it argues that pains do not satisfy them. Thus, pain is not representation.


Book Review

Jason M. Wirth, Mountains, Rivers, and the Great Earth: Reading Gary Snyder and Dōgen in an Age of Ecological Crisis (reviewed by Josh Hayes Hayes)

Josh Hayes Hayes

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