Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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Inquiry into the Transcendence of Tang Dynasty Confucians to Han Dynasty Confucians and the Transformation of Traditional Confucianism in Terms of Lunyu Bijie
XIANG Shiling
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 471-485.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0110-6

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Neo-Confucianism of the Han and Tang dynasties is an indispensable part of the history of Chinese philosophy. From Han dynasty Confucians to Tang dynasty Confucians, the study of Confucian classics evolved progressively from textual research to conceptual explanation. A significant sign of this transformation is the book Lunyu Bijie 论语笔解 (A Written Explanation of the Analects), co-authored by Han Yu and Li Ao. Making use of the tremendous room for interpretation within the Analects, the book studied and reorganized the relationship between “the study of literature” and “the Dao and principles.” It clearly shows an inevitable development of Confucianism, shifting its focus from phenomena to the nature of the heart-mind in order to comprehend nature and heavenly Dao, both of which “cannot be heard (from Confucius).”

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The Source of the Idea of Equality in Confucian Thought
GAO Ruiquan
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 486-505.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0111-5

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Although the traditional society in China was not necessarily a society of equality, and the classical Confucianism did not speak much about the principle of universal equality, in modern times, in the midst of a transformation of value systems, people still find correlating sources within the Confucian tradition that is connected to the modern idea of equality. This essay makes a detailed study on this correlation and points out that ancient Chinese society and the western feudal society are different in terms of social systems and education systems. For example, China has the imperial examination but no patrimonial aristocracy. Confucianism opposed the huge gap between the poor and the rich, and this idea has become a modern tradition in the ideal of “great harmony under the sky,” especially in Kang Youwei’s 康有为 Datong Shu 大同书 (Book of Great Harmony). There were also some elements of agricultural socialism and equalitarianism in traditional Confucianism. The potential idea of equality (or reciprocity) in “friendship,” embodied in the principle of Confucian ethics of the Three Bonds and the Five Relations, is explored and explained in a modern way. The theory that the sages are equal with the masses, which originated from the theory of human being’s intrinsic goodness, may be directly connected with modern principle of equality. The modern transformation of equality is both political and ethical. The former is to struggle for individual rights; the latter is to establish moral subjectivity. Therefore, equality between sages and the masses manifests modernity. Like the epistemic subjectivity, which could not be discussed without referring to group-individual relationship, the moral subjectivity also contains a consciousness of equality.

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Reproduction, Familiarity, Love, and Humaneness: How Did Confucius Reveal “Humaneness”?
CHEN Hongxing
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 506-522.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0112-4

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This article draws out the subtle connections among the various sorts of categories—“sheng 生 (reproduction),” “qin 亲 (familiarity),” “ai 爱 (love),” and “ren 仁 (humaneness)”—focusing on the following: Confucius found the original significance of “reproduction” to be sympathy between males and females, and upon further study he found it extended to the .affinity of blood relations, namely “familiarity.” From “familiarity” he came to understand “love” that one generates and has for people and things beyond one’s blood relations, in other words, the empathic heart or the feeling of empathy itself. From here he anticipated rende 仁德 (the humane and virtuous) level of “fan’ai zhong 泛爱众 (universal love for all people)” or “fan’ai wanwu 泛爱万物 (universal love for all creatures).” The article further makes the point that in order to meet the conditions for the perfection of “humaneness” which has neither any excesses nor any deficiencies, Confucius ultimately developed a means, that is, “the golden mean,” which indicates that his ancient understanding of life and growth produced in Confucius a profound shift in the focus of human concern from “ming 命 (fate)” to “Dao 道 (the Way).”

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A Preliminary Discussion of Dai Zhen’s Philosophy of Language
WU Genyou
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 523-542.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0113-3

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Dai Zhen’s philosophy of language took the opportunity of a transition in Chinese philosophy to develop a form of humanist positivism, which was different from both the Song and Ming dynasties’ School of Principles and the early Qing dynasty’s philosophical forms. His philosophy of language had four primary manifestations: (1) It differentiated between “names pointing at entities and real events” and “names describing summum bonum and perfection”; (2) In discussing the metaphysical issue of “the Dao,” it was the first to introduce a syntax analysis of linguistics, clearly differentiating between the different roles of predicate verbs “zhi wei” and “wei zhi” in Classical Chinese; (3) In criticizing Confucian thought during the Song and Ming dynasties, it adopted specific philological skills such as the analysis of phraseology, the meaning of sentences and the thread of words in texts; and (4) It re-interpreted the meaning of Confucian classics by studying characters and language, adopting a positivist and philological manner to seek metaphysical sense in philosophy. In this way, his philosophy was different from the scholars of the School of Principles during the Song and Ming dynasties and from the goal of Western linguistic philosophy in the 20th century, which refuted metaphysics. Accordingly, it helped to develop 18th century Chinese philosophy as it turned towards linguistic philology.

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Way of Post-Confucianism: Transformation and Genealogy
HUANG Zhuoyue
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 543-559.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0114-2

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After Neo-Confucianism, the study of contemporary Confucianism became more diverse. Its original uniformity was replaced by diversity. During this time, however, Post-Confucianism became increasingly prominent. Post-Confucianism comes from a post-modernist context and was influenced by a post-modernist ideological mode, and so its appearance was inevitable. It was also closely linked to significant philosophical issues after the change in times, and therefore questioned and challenged Neo-Confucianism which was based on a pattern of modernity. Post-Confucianism represents a new trend in the contemporary development of Confucianism. From a cultural point of view, this essay systematically investigates three internationally renowned schools of Post-Confucianism and their backgrounds, noting their similarities and differences, examining their significance, and determining their meaning. By doing so, it intends to outline an intelligible framework for this academic trend and highlight the significance of Post-Confucianism for the development of contemporary Confucianism.

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The Significance of Xuwu 虚无 (Nothingness) in Chinese Aesthetics
FAN Minghua
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 560-574.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0115-1

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Just as nothingness is a fundamental concept in Daoist philosophy, it is also a fundamental concept in Chinese aesthetics, where it has multiple meanings: First, nothingness, as a reaction against unaesthetic psychical activity, is a primary precondition of aesthetic and artistic activity. Second, as the void or intangible “stuff” juxtaposed to “substance,” it is an indispensable compositional property of artworks as well as an essential condition for the manifestation of an artistic form. Finally, as a reaction against the unaesthetic world of daily life—the experiential world—nothingness is the fundamental basis and essential provision for establishing an artistic world.

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Problem and Method: The Possibility of Comparative Study—Using “Lun Liujia Yaozhi” as an Example
DENG Xize
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 575-600.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0116-0

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On the basis of general characteristics, comparative studies can be restricted by cross-cultural comparison in a narrow sense. In this paper, I take “Chinese philosophy” as an example to investigate the current problems within comparative studies. However, it is possible to embark on comparative study. “Lun Liujia Yaozhi” 论六家要旨 (“Discussion on the Main Points of the Six Schools”) conducts a successful comparison, from which we can extract the comparative method of “Problem and Method,” and it points directly to the basic structure of survival activities, and furnishes the possibility for cross-cultural comparisons.

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“Outside Thinking” and “Horizontal Logic”
SHANG Jie
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 601-620.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0117-z

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Metaphysics is a repeated act by way of “representation”; the instantaneous judgment is solidified, the inevitable conclusion is made, and at the same time other possibilities are excluded. “Outside thinking” is a blow to the spiritual tradition of metaphysics, which holds that “representation” will lead to a differential activity concerning the relationship between stranger things. Such relationship follows a kind of “horizontal logic,” the latter discards the presupposition on the “origin” of things, that is, it no longer presumes that this point or that point has greater privilege than “other points.” Things do not develop from a central point. Rather, things are the result of innumerable “points” in cooperative relationships between strangers. These cooperative relationships are arbitrary. In “horizontal logic,” many “starting points” or “spiritual T-points” are used as substitutes for a unique “origin.”

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The Phenomenological Ontology of Literature
DENG Xiaomang
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 621-630.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0118-y

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Literary ontology is essentially a phenomenological issue rather than one of epistemology, sociology, or psychology. It is a theory of the phenomenological essence intuited from a sense of beauty, based on the phenomenological ontology of beauty, which puts into “brackets” the sociohistorical premises and material conditions of aesthetic phenomena. Beauty is the “objectified” emotion. This is the phenomenological definition of the essence of beauty, which manifests itself on three levels, namely “emotion qua selfconsciousness,” “sense of beauty qua emotion,” and “sentiment qua sense of beauty.” Art on the other hand is the “objectification of emotion” whose most general and closest manner to “humanity” is literature and poetry. Poetry is the origin of language and the linguistic essence is a metaphor. Language as “the house of being” is both “thinking” and “poetry.” Literature expresses the essence of art in the most direct way and, in traditional Chinese aesthetic terminology, literature is the “language of emotion” conveyed by the writer based on his own emotion towards the “language of scene.”

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“The End of History ” and the Fate of the Philosophy of History
ZHANG Dun
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 631-651.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0119-x

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The “end of history” by Fukuyama is mainly based on Hegel’s treatise of the end of history and Kojeve’s corresponding interpretation. But Hegel’s “end of history” is a purely philosophical question, i.e., an ontological premise that must be fulfilled to complete “absolute knowledge.” When Kojeve further demonstrates its “universal and homogeneous state,” Fukuyama extends it into a political view: The victory of the Western system of freedom and democracy marks the end of the development of human history and Marxist theory and practice. This is a misunderstanding of Hegel. Marx analyzes, scientifically, the historical limitation of Western capitalism and maintains, by way of a kind of revolutionary teleology, the expectation of and belief in human liberation, which is the highest historical goal. His philosophy of history is hence characterized by theoretical elements from both historical scientificalness and historical teleology.

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How Does Downward Causation Exist?—A Comment on Kim’s Elimination of Downward Causation
CHEN Xiaoping
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 652-665.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0120-4

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The importance of downward causation lies in showing that it shows that functional properties such as mental properties are real, although they cannot be reduced to physical properties. Kim rejects nonreductive physicalism, which includes leading functionalism, by eliminating downward causation, and thereby returns to reductionism. In this paper, I make a distinction between two aspects of function—functional meaning and functional structure and argue that functional meaning cannot be reduced to the physical level whereas functional structure can. On this basis, I further distinguish between the integer of the function, which includes the functional meaning and the functional structure, and the whole of the functional realization, and also among the strong, medial, and weak supervenience relations. So-called downward causation is indeed the relationship between the whole of the functional realization and its physical realizer, which is a whole-part relation instead of a relation between levels. As a result of understanding downward causation in this way and abandoning the principle of the causal closure of the physical world, Kim’s argument becomes invalid and nonreductive functionalism, justified.

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Conversation through Actions and the Changing of Epistemic States in a Game
PAN Tianqun
Front Phil Chin. 2010, 5 (4): 666-673.  
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11466-010-0121-3

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When a person performs a certain action, it signifies that he is causing a certain event to occur. Therefore the action is conveying a certain true sentence. Playing a game is a mutual activity, namely the listener and the speaker undertake an exchange through a linguistic dialogue or communicate through action. Because of the peculiar nature of the action, the actions in games belong to an activity where the speaker speaks “true words” and the listener hears “true words.” A static game is a process through which the participants are simultaneously “speaking” and “listening”; and a dynamic game is a process where speaking and listening take place in turn. Each step of a dynamic game is a “speaking-listening” exchange. Through “listening” and “speaking,” changes in the epistemic states of the participants occur. Of course, the degree of change depends on the type of game being played. In a dynamic game, each participant proceeds through a process of induction, and thus forms new epistemic states.

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