Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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“Ru”: Xunzi’s thoughts on Ru and its significance
CHEN Lai
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 157-179.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0010-9

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No matter what the original meaning of “Ru” was, looking at it from the perspective of the history of philosophy, the image of “Ru” as portrayed by other schools in the Warring States period was infused with the characteristics of Confucianism of that time. The self-understanding of Warring States Confucians expressed by their employment of the character “Ru” clearly displayed Ru’s character as well as the main points of the Ru school, namely Confucianism. In particular, the words and thoughts of Xunzi, the great Confucian master, on “Ru”, epitomize Pre-Qin Confucian’s understanding and expectations of themselves, and also reflect the Confucian new pursuit in facing the age of the unification of Qin.

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Mencius and the tradition of articulating human nature in terms of growth
LIANG Tao
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 180-197.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0011-8

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This article analyses the tradition of “articulating xing in terms of sheng” and related other expressions, and also examines the debate between Mencius and Gaozi concerning “xing is known by sheng.” It claims that while Mencius’ “human nature is good” discourse is influenced by the interpretive tradition of “articulating xing in terms of sheng”, Mencius also transcends and develops this tradition. Therefore it is only when Mencius’ views about the goodness of human nature are understood in the context of this interpretive tradition that his ideas can be fully understood. Utilizing this framework, the Confucian understanding of rights is then explored.

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On the creativity and innateness of the “strong, moving vital force”: A discussion of Feng Youlan’s “explanation of Mencius’ chapter on the ‘strong, moving vital force’ ”
LI Jinglin
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 198-210.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0012-7

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Feng Youlan emphasizes the concept of “creativity” in his article “Explanation of Mencius’ Chapter on Strong, Moving Vital Force”, in particular highlighting the problem whether the “strong, moving vital force” is “innate” or “acquired”. Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi believed the “strong, moving vital force” was endowed by Heaven, so was therefore innate; “nourishment” cleared fog and allowed one to “recover one’s original nature”. Mencius’ theory on “the good of human nature” is illustrated in the concept of integrated “original endowment”. So Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi’s theory of “recovering the original nature” proposed that the “strong, moving vital force” was innate, which is in complete agreement with Mencius and of which there is ample evidence in Mencius. However, “nature” is “created by the accumulation of righteousness”. Namely, it is the completion and presentation of the process of creation and transformation of human beings. Only when we consider both Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi’s theory and Feng Youlan’s theory can we fully understand Mencius’ theory of “the nourishment of the strong, moving vital force”, which is of great theoretical and academic value in accurately understanding Mencius and the Confucian theory of mind-nature.

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On ethical order
SONG Xiren
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 211-226.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0013-6

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The existent ethical relationships are the result of the historical amalgamation of objective and subjective conditions. Ethical relationships are essential relationships in the real and rational order, which are maintained by a system of regulations on morals, laws and customs, and infused with a spirit of subjectivity. Rationality and legitimacy are the primary concerns of those relationships. A distinction between morals and ethos needs to be made when studying ethical order. Sound ethical order lies in effective regulation of morals and effective control of law. In the process of social reform, ethical order promotes social development through the dialectical movement of freedom and necessity. A harmonious society is a society which is based on legitimate and just ethical order.

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Ethics and ethicists in the modern context
WAN Junren
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 227-237.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0014-5

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Ethics in the modern context is under the dual pressure of scientific-technological rationality and market commercialization, which has led to breakthroughs in the original boundaries of knowledge and academic methodology. The gradual separation of the domain of public life and that of private life in modern society and the former’s increasing pressure on the latter, in addition to the above dual pressure on ethics, is causing a dramatic transformation of the structure of ethical knowledge itself. All of these raise new theoretical problems for ethics and ethicists in the modern context. Answering and solving these problems makes sense for the future development of ethics as one of the classic humanities, and tests modern ethicists’ ability to realize their moral and theoretical duties.

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Moral instinct and moral judgment
NI Liangkang
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 238-250.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0015-4

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Human beings’ moral life can be divided into two forms, one based on moral instincts and the other on moral judgments. The former is carried on without deliberation, while the latter relies upon valuations and judgments. The two can ultimately be viewed as man’s innate moral nature and acquired moral conventions. Theoretically, preference for the former will lead to naturalism and for the latter to culturalism, but this is the reality of man’s moral life. Moreover, there may be a parallel relation between the moral structure of human life and the grammatical structure of human language.

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Aristotle’s view on “the right of practice”: An investigation into Aristotle’s theory of action
LIAO Shenbai
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 251-263.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0016-3

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The concept of right or fit is an important element entailed, but not fully articulated, in the concept of action or practice in Aristotle’s theory of virtue; which, however, turns to be of the utmost importance in later Western ethics. Right is concerned with both feelings and actions, and is not the same for all individuals. It lies in between the two extremes of the spectrum of practical affairs, yet by no means equidistant from them. This account of the concept of fitness or right is derived from the categories of quantity, relationship, and quality rather than from that of substance. Thus, it seems that virtue is relative to vice or error within a continuous existence. If, however, the right of passion and action is environmental and concrete, is it multiple and not singular? To this question, Aristotle gives his reply on two levels: On the level of concrete practitioners, what is right and fit to one man might not be so to another man, and hence the right of practice is not singular but multiple; whereas on the level concerned with the only right choice compared with the two extremes or errors, the right of practice will always be singular.

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The enlightenment: Conscience and authority in judgment
XIE Wenyu
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 264-281.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0017-2

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There were two prevailing sentiments in Europe after the Reformation: One opposing papal authority and one advocating individual freedom. This paper analyzes these two sentiments and finds that the concept of conscience is crucial in understanding them. The issue of conscience is about judging truth and good, and in initiating the Reformation, Martin Luther heavily appealed to his conscience while countering Catholic attacks. With the wide dispersal of the Reformation, Luther’s notion of conscience was well received among his supporters throughout Europe. Descartes later transformed Luther’s conscience into an epistemological being (the cogito), and argued that its existence was the only valid thing that survived his thorough skepticism — and as such is the foundation of human knowledge. Rousseau continued this line of thinking, which we call subjectivism, and re-employed the term conscience as a replacement for cogito, holding that conscience is the final authority in judging good and bad; that, as the starting point of human existence, it cannot be withheld from any human being; and that it therefore constitutes an inalienable human right. This paper argues that the Enlightenment was a subjectivist movement propelled by this conscience-cogito-conscience conceptualization, and that it sought to enlighten this inalienable conscience.

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Plato’s poetic wisdom in the myth of Er
WANG Keping
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 282-293.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0018-1

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The interlink between myth and wisdom in Hellenic heritage is characteristically embodied in the Platonic philosophizing as regards the education and enculturation of the human psyche. As is read in the end of The Republic, the myth of Er turns out to be a philosophical rewriting of poetry to a large degree. For it engagingly reveals Plato’s moral inculcation, philosophical instruction and poetic wisdom in particular, all of which are intended to guide human conduct along the right track for the bliss of the postmortem cycle, and put philosophy learning into first priority for the choice of the future life. Moreover, the transmigrate experience in the mystic overtone of “the Orphic-Pythagorean conglomerate” is discussed with a intercultural reference to the Buddhist doctrines of samsara and karma.

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Heidegger’s distortion of dialectics in “Hegel’s Concept of Experience”
DENG Xiaomang
Front Phil Chin. 2009, 4 (2): 294-307.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-009-0019-0

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This essay reveals five points in which Heidegger misreads Hegel in “Hegel’s Concept of Experience”: (1) By forcedly introducing the concept of “will”, he interprets Hegel’s phenomenology of spirit into Metaphysics of Presence; (2) interprets concepts such as “statement” and “the road of skeptics” as the process of phenomenological reduction; (3) reduces Hegel’s Sein to Seiende; (4) replaces “Contradiction” with “Ambiguity” so the active Dialectics become passive; (5) exaggerates conscious experience and puts it into a real ontology, regardless of the significance of Logic and Encyclopedia of Philosophy. By an analysis of this misreading we can find the internal connection between Heidegger’s thought and that of his philosophical forerunner, Hegel.

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