Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

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Research articles
Courage in The Analects: A Genealogical Survey of the Confucian Virtue of Courage
CHEN Lisheng ,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 1-30.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0001-x

Abstract   PDF (805KB)
The different meanings of “courage” in The Analects were expressed in Confucius’ remark on Zilu’s bravery. The typological analysis of courage in Mencius and Xunzi focused on the shaping of the personalities of brave persons. “Great courage” and “superior courage”, as the virtues of “great men” or “shi junzi 士君子 (intellectuals with noble characters)”, exhibit not only the uprightness of the “internal sagacity”, but also the rich implications of the “external kingship”. The prototype of these brave persons could be said to be between Zengzi’s courage and King Wen’s courage. The discussion entered a new stage of Neo-Confucianism in the Song and Ming dynasties, when admiration for “Yanzi’s great valor” became the key of various arguments. The order of “the three cardinal virtues” was also discussed because it concerned the relationship between “finished virtue” and “novice virtue”; hence, the virtue of courage became internalized as an essence of the internal virtuous life. At the turn of the 20th century, when China was trembling under the threat of foreign powers, intellectuals remodeled the tradition of courage by redefining “Confucius’ great valor”, as Liang Qichao did in representative fashion in his book Chinese Bushido. Hu Shi’s Lun Ru 论儒 (On Ru) was no more than a repetition of Liang’s opinion. In the theoretical structures of the modern Confucians, courage is hardly given a place. As one of the three cardinal virtues, bravery is but a concept. In a contemporary society where heroes and sages exist only in history books, do we need to talk about courage? How should it be discussed? These are questions which deserve our consideration.
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The True or the Artificial: Theories on Human Nature before Mencius and Xunzi—Based on “Sheng is from Ming, and Ming is from Tian”
LI Youguang ,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 31-50.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0002-9

Abstract   PDF (764KB)
When speaking of pre-Qin Dynasty theories on human nature, past scholars divided Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi into three categories, and they tended to divide the theories into moral categories of good and evil. The discovery of bamboo and silk sheets from this period, however, has offered some valuable literature, providing a historical opportunity for the thorough research of pre-Qin Dynasty theories on human nature. Based on the information on the recently excavated bamboo and silk sheets, especially the essay titled “Xing Zi Ming Chu” on bamboo sheets unearthed in Guodian, this essay examines pre-Qin Dynasty theories on human nature from a new perspective. In doing so, it looks forward to a breakthrough in academic patterns of thought which typically defined pre-Qin Dynasty theories on human nature as good or evil, and thus a closer look at the original appearance of pre-Qin Dynasty theories on human nature as a whole.
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Tracing the Source of the Idea of Time in Yizhuan
ZHENG Wangeng ,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 51-67.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0003-8

Abstract   PDF (665KB)
By examining the propositions “waiting for the proper time to act”, “keeping up with the time”, “accommodating oneself to timeliness”, and “the meaning of a timely mean”, this paper examines the relationship between the idea of time conceived of in Yizhuan 易传 (Commentaries to the Book of Changes), Zuozhuan 左传 (Annals of Spring and Autumn with Zuo Qiuming’s Commentaries) and Guoyu 国语 (Comments on State Affairs) as well as the related thoughts of Confucianism, Daoism and the Yin-Yang School. It holds that on the foundation established by its predecessors, Yizhuan elevated time to its own category and made the first steps in establishing a theoretical system for time, making an important contribution to the enrichment and deepening of philosophical thought in the pre-Qin period.
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The Flexibility of Gua and Yao—Based on an Interpretation of Yizhuan
WANG Bo ,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 68-93.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0004-7

Abstract   PDF (787KB)
In Yizhuan’s interpretation of The Book of Changes, the book’s fundamental concepts, xiang 象 (images) and ci 辞 (words), play different roles. Concepts, including yin and yang, firmness and gentleness, sancai 三才 (three fundamentals), and the wuxing 五行 (five active elements), are used to interpret The Book of Changes through the interpretation of images, while the core Confucian values, such as benevolence and righteousness, are used to interpret The Book of Changes because of their connection with words of gua and yao. In order to expand the meaning of the words of gua and yao, Yizhuan sometimes connects words with images; in other occasions, however, it simply takes these words as independent guides. The Confucian scholars who wrote Yizhuan, therefore, not only revered the classic, but also used it to send their own message. Out of reverence, they “shu 述 (recited)”; in using it, they “zuo 作 (created)”. The combination of recitation and creation made the words of gua and yao very flexible in the process of interpretation, while the interpretation changed the meaning of the classic to a great extent.
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The Spirit of the School of Principles in Zhu Xi’s Discussion of “Dreams”—And on “Confucius did not Dream of Duke Zhou”
CHANG Yu ,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 94-110.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0005-6

Abstract   PDF (628KB)
Dreams were a topic of study even in ancient times, and they are a special spiritual phenomenon. Generations of literati have defined the meaning of dreams in their own way, while Zhu Xi was perhaps the most outstanding one among them. He made profound explanations of dreams from aspects such as the relationship between dreams and the principles li and qi, the relationship between dreams and the state of the heart, and the relationship between dreams and an individual’s moral improvement. He summarized previous generations’ understanding of dreams and infused a new dimension from the School of Principles, pointing out a direction for individuals’ moral cultivation and spiritual pursuit. Zhu Xi also examined the opinions of Zhang Zai, Cheng Yi, Hu Hong and other thinkers on Confucius not dreaming of Duke Zhou in his later years, revealing differences between thinkers in the School of Principles. An analysis of Zhu Xi’s thoughts on dreams will provide deeper insight into the research on the School of Principles.
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A Sense of Awe: On the Differences between Confucian Thought and Christianity
REN Jiantao,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 111-133.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0006-5

Abstract   PDF (634KB)
The fundamental importance of reverence is recognized by all major world cultures. Confucianism’s account of “The three things of which the sage is in awe” is seen in Chinese culture through the value placed on reverence. “The three things of which the sage is in awe” both manifests itself as an approach to value and is also an expression of practical ethical guidance. The essential aspect of reverence is a sincere and ethical outlook; accordingly it is a part of virtue ethics. In this kind of virtue ethics, ethical practice accords with self-conscious conduct that is guided by a sense of reverence, and this forms the guiding thought of Confucianism. From a comparative cultural perspective, the Confucian sense of reverence founded upon ethical self-awareness and Christian sense of reverence founded on divine worship are different. However, both take reverence to be the root of culture, thus proving that reverence is an element that none of the world’s major cultures can be without. In the early modern period, a sense of reverence was seen something enchanted and harmful to the rational progress of civilization. However, the contemporary reenchantment movements in some ways call up a return to such reverence.  
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Some Remarks on the Re-building of the Category of Essence and the Reflective Modernity
HAN Zhen ,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 134-141.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0007-4

Abstract   PDF (372KB)
If modernity is manifested as essentialism, postmodernity is manifested as anti-essentialism. Modernity is, in essence, human beings’ discovery of their own power, and is based on rational knowledge that has grasped the essence of things. In fact, in the discourse system of modernity, the various concepts of “essence” connote nothing but people’s imaginative constructions and rational conjectures about objects. In the past, our order, be it internal or external, was in essence guaranteed by God. Afterwards, all “essences”, as essences, must rationally prove the reason for their existence. In the postmodern context and discourse system, God, and also the “human being” who has created essence, has “died”. We should not simply resume the belief in traditional essence, but should reconstruct, on the basis of a full understanding of the intellectual meaning of postmodernity’s challenges, some historicity, practicality, and the concept of essence that accords with the historical as well as communicative rationality. We must realize that the essence of things is the essence of particular things in a particular stage of development, internally containing infinite differences and variety. Only things with postmodern traits contain modernity, and only the concept of essence that conceives difference accords with time.
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A Logic LU for Understanding
LI Xiaowu , GUO Xiangyang,
Front. Philos. China. 2010, 5 (1): 142-153.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0008-3

Abstract   PDF (878KB)
Understanding a proposition for an intelligent agent is an important epistemic concept. We first discuss intuitively general logic characteristics of understanding, and give a language and a semantics containing understanding as a modal operator. Secondly, we develop the system LU for the operator, give some results of its proof theory, and then we prove the frame soundness and frame completeness of LU.
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8 articles