Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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The Concept of Junzi in the Zhongyong
XIE Wenyu
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 501-520.

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The concept of junzi is the central issue in the Zhongyong, one of the most important Confucian books. A junzi leads a life starting with the original disposition of cheng 诚 (being truthful to the real self). This paper analyzes the disposition of cheng to reveal two kinds of good in human existence, that is, the natural good, which is present in cheng; and the idea of good, which is a conceptualization of the natural good. The natural good is actually equal to the nature endowed by the Tian, and so it is primary and absolute. Meanwhile, the idea of good is secondary and can be improved by self-cultivation. The distinction and interaction between these two kinds of good are crucial in conceiving the concept of junzi. Yet, the distinction is so subtle that it often confuses people in self-cultivation. In fact, people in their actual lives may mix them up and perceive only the idea of good. We call this the junzi impasse. The Zhongyong does not offer enough discussion about this impasse. Since this confusion may cause the termination of self-cultivation, this paper offers a comparative discussion in the light of Christian guilty consciousness, and attempts to propose a solution to the junzi impasse.

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Zhu Xi’s Choice, Historical Criticism and Influence—An Analysis of Zhu Xi’s Relationship with Confucianism and Buddhism
DING Weixiang
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 521-548.

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As a great synthesist for the School of Principles of the Northern and Southern Song dynasties, Zhu Xi’s influence over the School of Principles was demonstrated not only through his positive theoretical creation, but also through his choice and critical awareness. Zhu’s relationship with Confucianism and Buddhism is a typical case; and his activities, ranging from his research of Buddhism (the Chan School) in his early days to his farewell to the Chan School as a student of Li Dong from Yanping and then to his critical awareness of the Chan School, developed in his association with Wang Yingchen, set the entire course of his relationship with Confucianism and Buddhism. It fostered his antagonistic attitude towards the Chan School, which lasted his entire life. Zhu approached the Chan School mainly as an objective social and cultural phenomenon; his discrimination between Confucianism and Buddhism was from an epistemological point of view; and his refutation of the Chan School was mainly from the point of view of language and methodology, an antagonistic attitude of how to face learning. Therefore, his opposition to the Chan School not only directly fostered an awareness of the Confucians of the Ming dynasty against Buddhism, who simply viewed the latter as an external and objective existence, but to a certain extent resulted in the disappearance of the transcendence of the School of Principles, and caused a total change in academic direction during the Ming and Qing dynasties and the formation of the Qianjia Hanxue. What is more, such an opposition to Buddhism continues to influence people’s understanding of the School of Principles.

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Benti, Practice and State: On the Doctrine of Mind in the Four Chapters of Guanzi
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 549-564.

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“Xin 心 (Mind)” is one of the key concepts in the four chapters of Guanzi. Together with Dao, qi 气 (air, or gas) and de 德 (virtue), the four concepts constitute a complete system of the learning of mind which is composed of the theory of benti 本体 (root and body), the theory of practice and the theory of spiritual state. Guanzi differentiates the two basic layers of mind—the essence and the function. It tries to attain a state of accumulated jing 精 (essence, anima) and nourished qi, in which qi is concentrated in a miraculous way, through a series of methods of mind cultivation and nurturing, including being upright, calm, tranquil and moderate, and to concentrate the mind and intention. The doctrine of mind of the four chapters of Guanzi influenced Daoism and Confucianism and is a key link in the history of Chinese thought. It is a prelude to the merger of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism.

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Ultimate Concern, Reflection of Civilization, and the Idea of “Man” in Yin Haiguang
WANG Zhongjiang
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 565-584.

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Yin Haiguang’s investigation and pursuit of the idea of “Man” reflect not merely a limited historical or parochial academic interest, but indeed address an ultimate concern of humanity which transcends any spatio-temporal limitations. In criticizing “modern man” for its faceless and non-self-identical figure, Yin Haiguang brings the conditions, purposes and noble values of humanity to light. His work has extraordinary significance for the highest aims of humanity and civilization.

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Form and Formless: A Discussion with the Authors of Anticipating China
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 585-608.

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Chinese culture is neither the first problematic thinking (analogy) claimed by the authors of Anticipating China, nor the second one (logical inference). On the one hand, analogies are one of the most remarkable aspects of Chinese thinking, while on the other hand, Yin-Yang, Dao and Fo are all universal codes that could neither be reached by analogy nor by logical inference. In fact, both the first and second problematic thinking share the same world view, taking the world as a composite, and the difference lies merely in whether the components are irreplaceable particulars or substitutable elements. Both build their knowledge on the components and how they combine. In the terms of this paper, both systems are constructed with spatially definable forms, real or nominal. The highest codes in Chinese culture are not built upon the physical properties of an object, and could never be found by analysing the object, physically or logically. Yin-Yang, Dao and Fo are names without form, and thus are thinking modes that cannot be described by a spatial concept. They are non-structural systems and a way of formless thinking.

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On the Problem of the Meaning of Life in “Chinese Philosophy”
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 609-627.

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The goal of “(modern) Chinese Philosophy” established during the period of the May 4th Movement is to reestablish the meaning of life for Chinese people. However, because it takes the approach of interpreting Chinese thinking through a Western lens, thus forming a discourse pattern of “Chinese A is Western B,” which is only capable of manifesting Western culture, “Chinese Philosophy” is made logically impossible as the ideological source from which modern Chinese thinkers could construct the meaning of life. The ideological source of the still lasting traditional lifestyle is Yili Xue 义理学 (The Learning of Righteousness and Principles); whereas that of modern life, which was established as an imitation of the West, is Western culture. Neither of them takes “Chinese Philosophy” as its ideological source. Therefore, “Chinese Philosophy” is excluded from the construction of the meaning of life, and falls into the dilemma of life meaning.

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Horizons of Hermeneutics: Intercultural Hermeneutics in a Globalizing World
Jos de MUL
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (4): 628-655.

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Starting from the often-used metaphor of the “horizon of experience” this article discusses three different types of intercultural hermeneutics, which respectively conceive hermeneutic interpretation as a widening of horizons, a fusion of horizons, and a dissemination of horizons. It is argued that these subsequent stages in the history of hermeneutics have their origin in—but are not fully restricted to—respectively premodern, modern and postmodern stages of globalization. Taking some striking moments of the encounter between Western and Chinese language and philosophy as example, the particular merits and flaws of these three types of hermeneutics are being discussed. The claim defended is that although these different types of hermeneutics are mutually exclusive from a theoretical point of view, as interpreting beings in the current era we depend on each of these distinct hermeneutic practices and cannot avoid living them simultaneously.

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9 articles