Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

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On Laozi’s Dao—An Attempt to Make Philosophy Speak Chinese
LI Ruohui
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 1-19.

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“How is the meaning of the Dao to be understood?” To answer this question, we should not make indiscreet remarks outside of the framework of Laozi’s thought; rather, we should enter the system, helping Laozi to establish a philosophical system on the Dao. Such an establishment is equivalent to that of a logical system of Laozi’s philosophy. We consider the presentation of Laozi’s thought as unverified propositions, and the purpose of this essay is to expound on these propositions and make them philosophy in a strict sense: The Dao that can be talked about is not Dao anymore, and while “the Dao” seems to have its name, it actually does not. Names are also particular things. The Dao is neither a name nor a thing; instead, the Dao implies nonexistence. Nonexistence means the possibility of the being of all things, and all these things are the manifestation of the Dao, thus nonexistence is also existence. Things are discriminated from the Dao, and because all these things are discriminated from each other, there is de 德 (virtues). Where the discrimination is removed, there is the Dao, and adherence to the discrimination means deviation from the Dao. The diversity of things stirs up desires, and the control and utilization of things are a departure from the Dao. Only desires without self are compatible with nature. Desire discriminates with artificial measurements, and thus leads to knowledge. To acquire knowledge is to learn, and learning develops the capability to differentiate between the self and the other, so only a decline in learning can be conducive to human life. One can achieve something, transform external things and withstand nature only after he learns and acquires knowledge. On the other hand, wuwei 无为 (doing nothing) leads to wuwo 无我 (self-denial), avoiding the invention or differentiation of things. So, life is just the movement of the Dao, in which all things are allowed to take their own courses and nothing is left unaccomplished.

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Confucius’ Transformation of Traditional Religious Ideas
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 20-40.

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Confucius’ religious thought summarized and utilized existing historical and cultural achievements. He strove to bring problems concerning traditional religious ideas such as destiny, the spirits, ritual propriety and faith into the realm of the rational. He sought to unearth the elements of human reason contained within these and to highlight the sublime and sacred in actual human society. He established a system of religious humanism that incorporated views on edification, faith, destiny, the ghosts and spirits and self-cultivation. Using a dialectic based on the mean, he established a spiritual mindset comprising rational faith, a this-worldly transcendence and a sacredness grounded in the human that led ancient Chinese religious thinking in a unique direction.

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Mencius’ Aesthetics and Its Position
HU Jiaxiang
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 41-56.

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Mencius’ aesthetics unfolded around the ideal personality in his mind. Such an ideal personality belonged to a great man who was sublime, practical and honorable, and it was presented as the beauty of magnificence or the beauty of masculinity. Mencius put forward many propositions such as “the completed goodness that is brightly displayed is called greatness,” nourishing “one’s grand qi 气 (the great morale personality),” “only after a man is a sage can he completely suits himself to his own form,” “the saints only apprehended before me that of which my mind approves along with other men,” being “conscious of sincerity on self-examination,” and flowing “abroad, above and beneath, like that of Heaven and Earth,” all of which described an ideal personality through the course of its formation and its psychological experience. As a prominent school before the Qin dynasty, Mencius’ aesthetics greatly developed the Confucian teaching of “internal sage.” It shared many similarities with Zhuangzi’s thought and was also an aesthetic mode opposed to the latter. Both kinds of aesthetics were prominent: Mencius’ teaching was like imposingly towering and muscularly overflowing majestic mountains; Zhuangzi’s thought was like gracefully flowing water with an air of femininity. In real life though, Mencius’ teaching has greater practical significance in addressing the unbearable lightness of being, a disease of modernity.

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Original Mind and Cosmic Consciousness in the Co-Creative Process
Simone de La Tour, Kevin de La Tour
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 57-74.

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This article will investigate the issue of accessing benxin 本心 (original mind), subsequent operation from Self and, in that process, union with the “greater universe” or benti 本体 (original substance)—a state expressed in the West as “cosmic consciousness.” It is proposed that this allows one to participate as a partner in the creative process of one’s own life and the surrounding world. The equally important question of how to gain contact with original mind will also be addressed, as well as the consequences of doing so with regard to the human condition. The concept of original thought is introduced, being important here as it is held to be that thought which is generated in the pure condition of original mind, devoid of influence from finite physical existence.

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Lao-Zhuang and Augustine on the Issue of Suspension in the Philosophy of Religion
HAO Changchi
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 75-99.

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This paper addresses the question why the issue of reason and evidence as the central concern in the mainstream contemporary philosophy of religion has to be displaced by the issue of suspension according to Lao-Zhuang and the Augustine of Hippo. For both Lao-Zhuang and Augustine, in making room for the Other to appear at the core of the self’s being, it shows that there is an inseparable relationship of the self to the Other. In suspending its own understanding, admitting its own ignorance in humility, the subject is not in sheer darkness, but can follow a new light not generated from itself; in suspending its own will, the subject is not paralyzed, but follows the will of the Other. The selfhood of the subject is constituted in its relation to the Other.

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Semantic Criticism: The “Westernization” of the Concepts in Ancient Chinese Philosophy—A Discussion of Yan Fu’s Theory of Qi
ZENG Zhenyu
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 100-113.

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Every philosophical mode has a unique conceptual system. “Qi” has consistently been a fundamental part of ancient Chinese philosophy, and its significance is obvious. Guided by the idea of “re-evaluating all values,” Yan Fu, who was deeply influenced by Western philosophy and logic, used “reverse analogical interpretation” to present a new explanation of the traditional Chinese concept of qi. Qi thus evolved into basic physical particles. Yan’s philosophical effort has great significance: The logical ambiguity that had haunted qi was overcome. However, qi gradually evolved into a particular existence as it was “Westernized.” It completely lost its internal “flavor” as indigenous Chinese philosophy. Its previous philosophical abstraction and universality diminished and at the same time it was not “Westernized” into the “pure concept” of Hegel’s philosophy.”

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“The Westward Spread of Chinese Philosophy” and Marxism
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 114-133.

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Chinese philosophy was transmitted to Europe in the 18th century through “Deism,” “organic philosophy,” “pure reason,” “absolute idea,” etc., and was absorbed by modern European philosophers. Chinese philosophy has also, via German classical philosophy, directly as well as indirectly influenced Marx and been absorbed into his philosophy. There is a cultural-psychological reason for the Chinese acceptance of Marxism. However, due to the influence of Occidentalism, this period of history has long been neglected.

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The Autonomy of Cultural Practice: Basis, Limit and Significance of the Possibility of Developing “Cultural Automatism”
YUAN Zushe
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 134-144.

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Culture has always led a “problematic existence.” As a result, the diagnosis and treatment of various cultural diseases continue to depend on the embarrassing double identity of culture as both patient and doctor, hence making it difficult for culture to explore its own obscure recesses. The question of whether culture is autonomous and can be itself in its own way should therefore be considered theoretically. Since culture is closely associated with civilization, real culture must be generated from the florescence of a civilization based on a logic of human integrity within a certain historical period of time. In order to illuminate and adhere to this cultural attribute, some “cultural truths” must be made clear by establishing and maintaining public order and good customs from a properly lofty spiritual view. We must prudently and critically inquire after the ideological promise of culture regarding reasonable existence and the evolution of humans, and present an ideal prophecy in line with the human demand for a good life so as to assure culture’s healthy, benign, and sustainable advancement and stable performance of its function of molding graceful, noble, and tasteful means of life.

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Kant’s View on the Parent-Child Relationship and Its Problems—Analyses from a Temporal Perspective as to the Creation and Rearing of a Being Endowed with Freedom
ZHANG Xianglong
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 145-160.

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This article will probe into Kant’s viewpoints about parent-child relationship so as to demonstrate that they are inspiring on the one hand––for example on dealing with the relationship as that pertinent to the thing in itself, but on the other hand, there are many flaws. His strategy on avoiding the difficulty of “creating by man a being endowed with freedom” depends merely on an one-sided comprehension of time, because according to Kant himself, there is a difference as to the time between sensual forms of intuition and expressive form of transcendental imagination. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant gives a profound enunciation with respect to the two and the latter is related to “free causality” and “categorical imperative” in his moral philosophy. Once it refers to the rights of a being endowed with freedom and the time it requires to maintain them, it is problematic to assert that the creation of such beings is not concerned with, in any sense whatsoever, time and the sensual, mortal body. What is more, Kant failed to take into full consideration that parents are also beings endowed with freedom whose rights to the child are not totally dependent on the latter’s inherent rights but on their own inherent basis. Granting parents too few natural rights, Kant on the other hand allocates them too much obligations in that the parent-child relation is unbalanced in his field of view. Thirdly, he gives no consideration as to whether or not the empirical process of rearing children itself can also create some rights, which nevertheless, should be taken into account when temporal elements can be found from the very original parent-child relationship.

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The Implication of Rawls’ Approach to Public Reason
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (1): 161-169.

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Rawls’ appealing to free agreement in the original position cannot be understood as the source of real commitment to principles of social justice. According to the contextualistic interpretation, to establish and clarify the reasonableness of one context, one needs to appeal to the reasonableness of some higher-order contexts. Because the two meta-contexts of global basic structure and domestic basic structure can be seen as higher-order or lower-order context relative to each, depending on concrete cases, by excluding the consideration of global situation that must have effects on the realization of domestic justice, “justice as fairness” is blind both to the global context of domestic justice and to the domestic context of global justice.

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11 articles