Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

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The contemporary significance of Confucianism
TANG Yijie
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 477-501.

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As we enter the new millennium, it has become more important to review and discover ancient wisdom. The project to build a harmonious society requires us to know our own “culture.” The biggest conflicts we human beings face are the conflicts between man and nature, man and man (man and society), and body and mind. The three philosophical propositions, “the unity of Heaven and man,” “the unity of self and others,” and “the unity of body and mind” of Confucianism may provide precious insight in dealing with the three above-mentioned conflicts, and we should pay special attention to these resources.

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A study on the theory of “returning to the original” and “recovering nature” in Chinese philosophy
XIANG Shiling
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 502-519.

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The approach of returning to the original and recovering nature is a typical characteristic of Chinese philosophy. It was founded by the Daoist School and followed by both Daoist and Confucian schools. The precondition of returning to the original and recovering nature is the stillness and goodness within nature integrated into a whole afterwards. Its implementation includes not only returning to the original root so as to achieve the philosophical aim but also restoration to the original nature after it is injured by man’s physical nature and desire. The realization of human nature depends on the work making up for the loss of the original nature. Although there are different methods of realization concerning the return to the original nature, such as returning to the root, seeking the lost mind, extinguishing desire, being good at return, and the self-consciousness of intuitive knowledge, all of these aim at returning to the original nature of stillness and purity. The philosophical value consists in the unceasing pursuit of returning to the original nature.

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The categorical interpretation of Guo Xiang’s “independent genesis”
KANG Zhongqian
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 520-534.

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Seemingly, “independent genesis” refers to the independent existence and changes of each thing, but it is clear that there cannot be any truly “independent” things at all. Each thing in the world has to stay in connection or relationship with other things outside itself if it wants to represent its own “independence” and “genesis” in terms of form; and inevitably such connection or relationship itself has to be embodied in the internal nature of each thing. In the metaphysical thought of Guo Xiang, the former was known as the quality of “interdependence”; and the latter the characteristics of “quality” or “quality image.” Such characteristics of “quality” or “quality image” were interdependent, which constituted the essence of each thing itself as “beingness” and “beinglessness,” and thus resulted in the independent manifestation and change of things in terms of their external forms. The grasping of essence of things as “beingness” and “beinglessness” depended upon comprehension or rational intuition, and that was the realm of “profundity” in Guo Xiang’s terms.

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The obscuration and rediscovery of the original Confucian thought of moral politics: Deciphering work on the Guodian, Shangbo and the transmitted versions of Ziyi
HU Zhihong
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 535-557.

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By analyzing the author of Ziyi 缁衣 (Black Costumes) as well as Ziyi’s transmission and evolution by studying and analyzing the ancient text, one can see that Ziyi was a work of Zisi or the Zisi and Mencius School. Comparing the similarities and differences between the transmitted version of Ziyi and its Guodian 郭店 and Shangbo 上博 versions, one finds that the original version of Ziyi had been significantly revised by Confucian classics teachers in the unstable political and social climate during the Western Han Dynasty, specifically, the thought of moral politics of the original Confucians contained in the work was garbled and concealed, and the idea of law and the legal system was highlighted accordingly. The uncovered Guodian and Shangbo versions of Ziyi have removed the shroud that Confucians in the Han Dynasty had spread over it for 2, 000 years, revealing the thought of moral politics of the original Confucians.

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The tradition of the virtue of qian and its contemporary fate
LÜ Yaohuai
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 558-576.

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The virtue of qian, one of the traditional Chinese virtues, usually refers to humbleness, humility and modesty. Ancient thinkers in China not only expounded on the meaning and basis of qian, but also argued for its value. It was usually thought that the value of qian rested in its ability to cultivate virtue, promote scholarship, get along with people, and maintain enterprises. Ancient thinkers in China placed so much emphasis on the virtue of qian that there was a tendency to overemphasize qian. There is also a tradition of qian in the West, which is less likely to become excessive compared to that in the East. Presently, Chinese society is transitioning into a modern society, but the virtue of qian still has value. While continuing to embrace its traditional essence, we should adopt useful aspects from the Western concept of qian to reshape the virtue of qian so that it conforms to modern Chinese society.

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The body and its image in classical Chinese aesthetics
LIU Chengji
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 577-594.

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Richard Shusterman’s Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art was published in China in 2002. In the preface of the Chinese edition, the author claimed that his tentative idea of soma esthetics was encouraged by Chinese philosophy and other ancient Asian philosophy. Shusterman’s background in pragmatist philosophy greatly constrains his understanding of the body in classical Chinese aesthetics in that he only pays attention to the technical aspects of physical training while neglecting the philosophical basis of this training. In Chinese philosophy the orientation of the body, the relationship between the body and the universe, the body characteristic of the beauty of nature and the beauty of art, etc., is a theoretical response to Shusterman’s oriental misreading.

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Representationalism and the linguistic question in early modern philosophy
YANG Dachun
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 595-606.

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The view of language is greatly changed from early modern philosophy to later modern philosophy and to postmodern philosophy. The linguistic question in early modern philosophy, which is characterized by rationalism and empiricism, is discussed in this paper. Linguistic phenomena are not at the center of philosophical reflections in early modern philosophy. The subject of consciousness is at the center of the philosophy, which makes language serve purely as an instrument for representing thoughts. Locke, Leibniz and Descartes consider language from a representationalist point of view. To them, language itself is idealized and represents thought as if it were thought representing itself. Like the structural linguist Saussure, the founders of phenomenology and analytical philosophy give much attention to the logical or static structure of language, and stick up for the representationalism of early modern philosophy. However, their successors refuse to accept this attitude, meaning the final collapse of representationalism.

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Performative contradiction and the regrounding for philosophical paradigms
HAN Donghui
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 607-621.

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As a unique method of philosophical argument, performative contradiction attracted general attention after the change in direction of pragmatics in the twentieth century. Hintikka used this method to conduct an in-depth analysis of Descartes’ proposition “I think, therefore I am,” providing a proof which is a model in the philosophical history; Apel absorbed performative contradiction into his own framework of a priori pragmatics; and Habermas introduced it into the theory of formal pragmatics and rendered it an effective weapon of debate. Wittgenstein, who had fallen into the trap of performative contradiction in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, later managed to extract himself from it and indeed used the methodology of performative contradiction to cure the ills of philosophy, making it a general philosophical method. Through analysis of its connotations and classic examples of its use we can see that it is crucial in refuting extreme relativism and skepticism, and hence provides methodological support for a new foundation for philosophical paradigms.

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The concept of democracy
HAN Shuifa
Front Phil Chin. 2008, 3 (4): 622-632.

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The core elements of modern democracy are citizens who share equally in mutually-compatible basic rights, serve as the final decision-makers on the community’s constitution, and choose whom to be entrusted with legislative and executive powers, while at the same time wielding final veto power over the present government. The rule of the majority in modern democracy is no longer a fundamental principle, but rather a derivative principle the validity of which is based on the above-mentioned core elements.

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