Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

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Between Mind and Trace — A Research into the Theories on Xin 心 (Mind) of Early Song Confucianism and Buddhism
XIANG Shiling
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 173-192.

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From Han Yu’s yuan Dao 原道 (retracing the Dao) to Ouyang Xiu’s lun ben 论本 (discussing the root), the conflicts arising from Confucianists’ rejection of Buddhism were focused on one point, namely, the examination of zhongxin suo shou 中心所守 (something kept in mind). The attitude towards the distinction between mind and trace, and the proper approach to erase the gap between emptiness and being, as well as that between the expedient and the true, became the major concerns unavoidable for various thinkers to integrate the two teachings and to propel academic development. “To understand by mind” and “to blame for matter” were of crucial methodological significance for transcendence in both Confucianism and Buddhism. The arguments of Confucian scholars like Zhang Zai and the Cheng brothers on the identity of mind and trace and the unity of void and solid are mutually manifested. The same mind with the same principle means “mind is principle.” The “common axis of Confucianism and Buddhism” exists in the emphasis on mind beyond trace. The unification of mind and trace or the accordance of body and function has actually become the cardinal foundation for the possible mergence of the Three Teachings.

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A New Discourse on Xunzi’s Philosophy of Language
PENG Chuanhua
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 193-216.

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Xunzi’s philosophy of language was mainly unfolded through the “discrimination of ming 名 (names) and shi 实 (realities)” and the “discrimination of yan 言 (words) and yi 意 (meanings).” Particularly, the “discrimination of names and realities” was centered on the propositions that “realities are realized when their names are heard” and that “names are given to point up realities,” including the view on the essence of language such as “names expect to indicate realities” and “conventions established by usage,” the view of development of language such as “coming form the former usage and being newly established,” and the view of functions of language such as “discriminating superiority and inferiority and differentiating identities and differences”; while the “discrimination of words and meanings” mainly contained two aspects: One was that words could completely represent meanings while it could not do so on the other hand, and the other was that the Dao should be grasped through “an unoccupied, concentrated and quiet mind.” Xunzi’s philosophy of language stressed both language’s value attribute and its cognitive attribute, and it is the greatest achievement of pre-Qin dynasty’s philosophy of language.

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The Subjectivity and Universality of Virtues—An Investigation Based on Confucius’ and Aristotle’s Views
LIAO Shenbai
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 217-238.

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Philosophers today are inclined to propose virtues are either something subjective or something universal. However, Confucius and Aristotle, who made the most profound investigations into virtues, did not develop such theses. The deep-seated reason lies in their belief that there is always a possibility for a human being to become a man of practice, which cancels the need of proposing subjectivity thesis. The reason for their not raising the universality thesis of virtues is that they do not think that virtues are directly universal to all contemporarily existing minds. Rather, in their view, virtues involve a possible universality that may present in a virtuous mind. We can summarize Aristotle’s view into the concept of possible universality of virtue understood in terms of the perfect state of mind, since he explains the perfect state of mind in terms of perfect state of activity, and makes his investigations with an eye to the interactions between people with similar states of virtues. The view of Confucius can be summarized into the concept of possible universality of virtue understood in terms of the history of mind, since his investigations are made from the point of view of the states of mind reached through virtuous practices, i.e., a historical process of human life in which one’s pre-dispositions and feelings gradually reach some state of natural harmony and gains continual enrichment, and with an eye to the interactions between virtuous people and common people. From that similarly expressed view we can reasonably infer that virtues do possess the character called by today’s philosophers as universality, but it is a possible universality whose possibility is based on practice and on the development of virtuous minds.

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Marxism and Morality: Reflections on the History of Interpreting Marx in Moral Philosophy
QU Hongmei
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 239-257.

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The well-known paradox between Marxism and morality is that on the one hand, Marx claims that morality is a form of ideology that should be abandoned, while on the other hand, Marx makes quite a few moral judgments in his writings. It is in the research after Marx’s death that the paradox is found, explored and solved. This paper surveys the history of interpreting Marx from the aspect of moral philosophy by dividing it into three sequential phases. Then it presents the research on Marx in each phase, points out conflicting questions within the different periods and puts forward the solution in the end. This paper points out that a philosophical viewpoint based on Marx’s theory of historical materialism is the key to solving the paradox between Marxism and morality.

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“Justice Is Happiness”?— An Analysis of Plato’s Strategies in Response to Challenges from the Sophists
BAO Limin
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 258-272.

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The challenge from the sophists with whom Plato is confronted is: Who can prove that the just man without power is happy whereas the unjust man with power is not? This challenge concerns the basic issue of politics: the relationship between justice and happiness. Will the unjust man gain the exceptional “happiness of the strong” by abusing his power and by injustice? The gist of Plato’s reply is to speak not of “justice” but of “intrinsic justice,” i.e., the strength of virtue which, in his account, is the fundamental good of man. Nevertheless, many contend that intrinsic justice is actually injustice, for the division of power in the state is undemocratic while in the soul, the suppression of desire by the reason. Plato’s advocacy of hierarchical, elite political system has enraged democrats, while his idea of “philosopher king” has enraged the aristocrats as well. So, who will appreciate Plato’s effort?

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Cooperation, Competition, and Democracy
LI Shaomeng
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 273-283.

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Rawlsian framework is based on a cooperation model, which takes a democratic society as a cooperation system. Such a conception of democracy not only obscures the distinction between democracy and despotism, but also makes it hard to argue for the superiority of democracy over despotism. This article develops a different model, the competition model, to explain the historical development towards democracy and to justify democracy as a social order superior to despotism. The article argues that once we adopt the competition model to understand democracy, its distinctive characters as well as its merits will fully bear out.

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The Ontology of Musical Works: A Philosophical Pseudo-Problem
James O. YOUNG
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 284-297.

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A bewildering array of accounts of the ontology of musical works is available. Philosophers have held that works of music are sets of performances, abstract, eternal sound-event types, initiated types, compositional action types, compositional action tokens, ideas in a composer’s mind and continuants that perdure. This paper maintains that questions in the ontology of music are, in Rudolf Carnap’s sense of the term, pseudo-problems. That is, there is no alethic basis for choosing between rival musical ontologies. While we have no alethic basis for choosing any ontology of music, pragmatic reasons can be given for favoring certain ontologies of musical works over others.

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A Study of Experiential Technology and Scientific Technology, Exemplified by Chinese and Western Medicine
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 298-315.

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Experience and science, being the two sources of technology, have different focuses. In experiential technology, techniques and skills are emphasized while in scientific technology tool or equipment. Experiential technology is generally regarded as local knowledge, and scientific technology universal. Traditional Chinese medicine is an experiential technology. In contrast, Western medicine is set up as a scientific technology with great efforts. Through the comparison of these two medicines, this paper attempts to illustrate the difference between the two technologies and in turn, the difference between these two medicines by defining these two technologies. Finally, this paper further investigates the special values of Chinese medicine. Making use of the SSK theory, this paper deconstructs the idea of universality of science, and argues that, the universality is the feature that science pursues, but not what it already has. With more historical evidence, experiential technology is more stable, while scientific technology is less stable because it updates quickly, and often changes reversely.

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Various Concepts of “Supervenience” and Their Relations:A Comment on Kim’s Theory of Supervenience
CHEN Xiaoping
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 316-333.

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“Supervenience” was first used by Donald Davidson to describe the dependent and independent relationships between the mental and the physical. Jaegwon Kim presented a more precise definition, distinguishing between three types of supervenience: weak, strong and global. Kim further proved that strong and global supervenience are equivalent. However, three years later, Kim argued that strong supervenience is stronger than global supervenience, while weak supervenience and global supervenience are independent of each other. This paper demonstrates that Kim’s conclusion that weak supervenience and global supervenience are independent of each other is wrong. The strength of strong, weak and global supervenience decreases in turn with the latter entailed by the former. This paper also corrects some defects in Kim’s argument and his formulation of strong and weak supervenience, and then further explores the relationship between the three types of supervenience and their philosophical significance. It also classifies other terms of supervenience such as layered supervenience, macro-micro supervenience, and mereological superveniece as relationships of the strong, weak and global.

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Implications of the Dutch Book: Following Ramsey’s Axioms
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (2): 334-344.

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The Dutch Book Argument shows that an agent will lose surely in a gamble (a Dutch Book is made) if his degrees of belief do not satisfy the laws of the probability. Yet a question arises here: What does the Dutch Book imply? This paper firstly argues that there exists a utility function following Ramsey’s axioms. And then, it explicates the properties of the utility function and degree of belief respectively. The properties show that coherence in partial beliefs for Subjective Bayesianism means that the degree of belief, representing a belief ordering, satisfies the laws of probability, and that coherence in preferences means that the preferences are represented by expected utilities. A coherent belief ordering and a utility scale induce a coherent preference ordering; a coherent preference ordering induces a coherent belief ordering which can be uniquely represented by a degree-of-belief function. The preferences (values) and beliefs are both incoherent or disordered if a Dutch Book is made.

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