Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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Natural Philosophy of Zhouyi and Life Practice
LI Shuhua
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 179-190.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0011-5

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The natural philosophy which is implied in Zhouyi is a philosophy of generation. This is a metaphor for life and the unity of cosmology, ontology and axiology, based on a practice of life which is a unity of moral and cognitive practice. This article suggests that, based on the implications of the original classic text of Zhouyi and its commentaries, the characteristics and meaning of Chinese natural philosophy can be understood through the cosmology of morality, the ontology of unity of heaven, earth and humanity, the theory of practice that integrates knowing with action, and the methodology of wholly generating. I argue that this unique natural philosophy is not only the origin of the transcendental values of Chinese culture, but also the metaphysical foundation of ancient science in China. In the great transformation of history and dialogue between East and West in 21st century, it creates a unity of different cultures of human beings from different ways which are harmonious but not uniform.

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Between Virtues and Blessings: A Discussion on Zhang Jiucheng’s Thoughts
LI Chunying
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 191-216.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0012-2

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As an important thinker in the early South Song dynasty, Zhang Jiucheng differed in his thinking from the School of Principles of the Song and Ming dynasties, which was the mainstream at that time, and was thus excluded by Zhu Xi and his followers. The relation between virtues and blessings was a characteristic part of Zhang’s thought. By analyzing concepts like Heavenly mandates, virtues, blessings, luckiness and unluckiness in Zhang’s thought, this essay re-defines the complicated but manifest relations between virtues and blessings; clarifies the trajectory of Zhang’s thoughts on Heavenly mandates, virtues, and blessings; and displays the efforts of the Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasties to stress the value of human nature in the tension between Heavenly mandates and virtues.

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The Manifestation Range of Innately Good Knowledge and Ability, and the Danger of Separation: On Zhuzi’s Question about Understanding Words
DING Ji
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 217-243.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0013-9

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Zhuzi (Zhu Xi), Zhang Nanxuan and Lü Donglai continued a discussion begun by Hu Wufeng and his disciples on the subject of “knowing the form of benevolence,” and “seeking for a true mind in an absent one.” One result of their discussion was to make people realize that innately good knowledge and ability are not only manifested in loving one’s parents and respecting one’s elders, but also in the simple acts of drinking when thirsty and eating when hungry. This generated the idea of “manifestation range of innately good knowledge and ability.” However, another conclusion of this discussion claimed that if the desire to drink and eat or the king of Qi’s grudging an ox are included in this range, there would be a danger of viewing innately good knowledge and ability merely as inborn human nature or instinct. This discussion reveals an unsteady relationship between innately good knowledge and ability and the feeling of commiseration, which are sometimes united and sometimes separate.

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Survey of Confucius’s Approach to Expediency
LU Youcai
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 244-254.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0014-6

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Confucius held that expediency means adjusting to changing circumstances, not necessarily going along with or against anything, having a sense of propriety about times and measures, and doing things in their proper time and manner. However, expediency does not mean doing whatever one likes without any principle; instead, it means taking benevolence and righteousness as criteria and acting accordingly. In Confucius’s opinion, one should cultivate benevolence internally and act with righteousness externally, weigh importance and unimportance, measure advantages and disadvantages, and not “set the mind either for anything, or against anything,” pursuing “what the heart desires, without transgressing what is right.” In this way, he would keep to benevolence without deviating from it, act expediently without despising any principles, and attain a dialectical unification of expediency and principles.

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On the Issues of Transcendental Argument
CHEN Jiaming
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 255-269.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0015-3

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The transcendental approach initiated by Immanuel Kant and Peter Strawson has been the most representative contemporary exponent of this line of thinking. Barry Stroud understands this form of transcendental argument as relying on an empirical “verification principle” and hence he rejects it as unnecessary. Nevertheless, Stroud’s view is only warranted to a certain extent. In some non-empirical objective spheres, including concepts and propositions as regards general metaphysics, moral metaphysics and philosophy of religion, the transcendental approach is still necessary. In terms of quality, transcendental approach belongs to “conceptual argumentation,” which differs from experience and logic with the fundamental characteristic of setting up a theoretical antecedent before further inquiry at the level of doctrine, i.e., concepts.

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Sense and Reference of Predicates: Comments on Frege’s Theory of Sense-Reference
CHEN Xiaoping
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 270-283.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0016-0

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Frege argued that a predicate was a functional expression and the reference of it a concept, which as a predicative function had one or more empty places and was thus incomplete. Frege’s view gives rise to what has been known as the paradox of the concept “horse.” In order to resolve this paradox, I argue for an opposite view which retains the point that a predicate is a function, i.e. that a predicative function is complete in a sense. Specifically speaking, a predicate performing the function of a predicate has at least one empty place and has no reference, while a predicate performing the function of a subject does not have any empty place but does have a reference. Frege not only regarded a concept with one or more empty places as the reference of a predicate but also took a set of objects without any empty place to be the extension of a concept with one or more empty places. Thus, it presents a complex relationship between the reference of a predicate and its corresponding extension, leading to disharmony in his theory. I argue that this is because there is a major defect in Frege’s theory of meaning, namely the neglect of common names. What he called extensions of concepts are actually extensions of common names, and the references of predicates and the extensions of common names have a substantial difference despite being closely related.

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Is God an Aspect?
SU Dechao
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 284-303.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0017-7

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Neither logical deduction nor empirical induction is capable of mediating the dispute between religious disciples and non-disciples. The case is particularly acute when it comes to the divine Reality (God). Within Wittgenstein’s theoretical framework, some scholars start from the perspective of language games, contending that this dispute is meaningless and should be abandoned, while others are not satisfied with such a settlement and extend Wittgenstein’s aspect theory to religious issues, arguing that God is an aspect. The extension includes analogous and theoretical extensions. This article will show that even if these two extensions are successful, their interpretations with regard to the disputes between religious disciples and non-disciples are not convincing. Worse still, the extension from aspect theory to religious issues is by no means successful in proving that God is an aspect.

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The Knowledge Argument against Physicalism: Its Proponents and Its Opponents
ZHAO Yanyan
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 304-316.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0018-4

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The knowledge argument usually takes the form of a thought experiment where the subject, having some psychological deficiency, lacks any introspective data to derive the knowledge of her experience. Most defenders of the knowledge argument see the argument as both a support of dualism and an objection to any full-blooded form of physicalism. However, this paper argues that the knowledge argument against physicalism may be directed, in an exactly parallel form, against reductive dualism; moreover, although most physicalists who are the opponents of the knowledge argument do not give any convincing response to the knowledge argument, some kinds of physicalism can live with the knowledge argument.

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The Philosophical Underpinnings of Western HRM Theory
YUAN Li
Front Phil Chin. 2012, 7 (2): 317-346.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-001-012-0019-1

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As a typical American Product, the Human resource management (HRM) system provides a strong sense of equity, of a trustworthy exchange relationship, and alleges that assessment and promotion mainly depend on an individual’s merits. The critical perspectives of HRM reveal that the “soft” HRM offers a smokescreen for “hard” HRM to cover its unchanged reality, which emphasizes rationality, individualism, control and short-term orientation. This article analyzes the underlying philosophy of HRM, which offers the fundamental theoretical support for it, from four aspects: individualism, meritocracy, rationality and short-termism.

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