Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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The Basic Character of the Virtue Theory of Mencius’ Philosophy and Its Significance in Classical Confucianism
CHEN Lai
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 4-21.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0002-9

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Mencius takes humaneness as the primary moral idea, and makes new annotations to some classical Confucian moral ideas, such as rightness, courtesy and intelligence. The main traditional topic of virtue has, in Mencius, been transformed gradually form virtuous conduct to virtue. The four minds-four virtues theory of Mencius marks the formation of virtue ethics in classical Confucianism.

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On Virtue Ethics
Michael Slote
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 22-30.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0003-6

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If one goes beyond the Western perspective, one realizes that most philosophy outside the West has been virtue-ethical in character. But it also turns out that there are simply more historical kinds of virtue ethics than most virtue ethicists recognize. Virtue ethics is mainly of interest because of its contemporary relevance and plausibility, and it is argued here that a virtue ethics that emphasizes empathy is very plausible in contemporary terms. Such an approach can say some strong things in favor of democracy, but it can also criticize Western thought for putting too much emphasis on autonomy rights rather than people’s, and especially women’s, welfare.

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Is There a Place for Traditional Values and Virtues in Society Today?
Gerard Walmsley
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 31-52.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0004-3

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This paper argues that rather than looking to the past for a previously developed set of traditional values and virtues we should instead look to the past for ways of thinking about morality and ethics which may be found in the “tradition” and which may also be relevant for the contemporary situation. It examines the causes of the disconnection between traditional ways of thinking and the contemporary situation at two levels: the marginalization of morality and the disarray in ethics. Both aspects are found to be rooted in the emergence of the empirical scientific differentiation of consciousness. The paper then goes on to ask what resources in the tradition may be found to overcome the gap between ancient and modern, or traditional and contemporary, ways of thinking about morality and ethics. The contemporary relevance of the thought of Bernard Lonergan to this issue is examined.

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On Confucian Political Philosophy and Its Theory of Justice
GUO Qiyong
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 53-75.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0005-0

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Traditional Confucian political culture (including its concepts, systems, practices and folk customs) has a legacy that deserves careful reconsideration today. Its theories, institutions, and practices address the source, legitimacy, division and balance, and restriction of political power. Confucian politics is a type of “moral politics” which sticks to what ought to be and what is justifiable, and holds that political power comes from Heaven, mandate of Heaven or Dao of Heaven, which implies that justification and standards rest with the people referring to scholars peasants, workers and merchants. This type of justification is rooted in the public space and the autonomous strength of the people, and it finds guidance in the involvement, supervision, and criticism of the class of scholar-bureaucrats (shi 士). In this article, Western political philosophy will be taken as a frame of reference for evaluating Confucian conception of justice as well as Confucian ideas of distribution, fairness of opportunity, caring kindness for “the least advantaged,” and institutional construction. It will argue that the leading characteristic of Confucian political theory is that of “substantive justice.”

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Traditional Confucian Constitutionalism: Current Explorations and Prospects
PENG Chengyi
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 76-98.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0006-7

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For a relatively long period of time, it has been widely thought that Confucianism and constitutionalism are incompatible, even antithetic. This view is a prominent feature of Chinese thought from the New Cultural Movement of the early 20th century to the “Asian Values” debates of recent decades. Even today, it still holds some currency among many intellectuals, both within and outside China. However, in recent years some intellectuals are breaking with this dominant view by exploring the constitutional resources within Confucianism and challenging previous conceptual frameworks. As we shall see, we can identify three main approaches to the issue of Confucian Constitutionalism in contemporary academia, namely, the institutional approach, the ritualistic approach, and the religious approach. This article will seek to review the respective contents of each approach to Confucian constitutionalism and discuss their main problems as well as examine the prospects of establishing a traditional Confucian/Chinese constitutionalism.

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Why Talk about Chinese Metaphysics?
Ralph Weber
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 99-119.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0007-4

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Chinese philosophy in the twentieth century has often been related to some sort of cultural or other particularism or some sort of philosophical universalism. By and large, these still seem to be the terms along which academic debates are carried out. The tension is particularly manifest in notions such as “Chinese philosophy,” “Daoist cosmology,” “Neo-Confucian idealism,” or “Chinese metaphysics.” For some, “Chinese metaphysics” may be a blatant contradictio in adiecto, while others may find it a most ordinary topic to be discussed at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In this article, I set out to examine two major discourses in which talk about “metaphysics” is frequent and popular and to which talk of “Chinese metaphysics” may wish to contribute: the history of philosophy and analytic philosophy. My contention is that it is usually far from obvious what reasons are behind putting “Chinese metaphysics” on the academic agenda and to what precise purpose this is done. What my discussion seeks to highlight is the as yet often largely unarticulated dimension of the politics of comparative philosophy—of which talk about “Chinese metaphysics” may but need not be an example.

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The Wiseman and the Sage: Metaphysics as Wisdom in Aristotle and the Neo-Confucian School of Principle
Rina Marie Camus
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 120-139.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0008-1

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Among scholars of classical philosophy in the West, it is not uncommon to hesitate about the existence of metaphysics in non-Western philosophical traditions. At times, the dilemma seems due to culture-specific ideas or standards about what metaphysics is or how it should be done. Other times the problem seems to lie in a general lack of awareness about the methods and approaches of divergent philosophical traditions. This article explores an often ignored Aristotelian notion of metaphysics: That it is wisdom. If we acknowledge wisdom to be a common value or ideal found in different cultures, then characterizing metaphysics as wisdom promises to be more inclusive than prevalent ideas about it, being broad enough to allow for the appreciation of metaphysical insights and achievements in non-Western schools. I first examine Aristotle’s account of what wisdom consists of. I shall then test the inclusivity of this conception of metaphysics by showing how its characteristic features are manifest in the Neo-Confucian ideal of sagely learning.

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Is Compositionality a Trivial Principle?
Richard G. Heck, Jr.
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 140-155.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0009-8

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Primarily a response to Paul Horwich’s “Composition of Meanings,” this paper attempts to refute his claim that compositionality—roughly, the idea that the meaning of a sentence is determined by the meanings of its parts and how they are there combined—imposes no substantial constraints on semantic theory or on our conception of the meanings of words or sentences.

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Filtering Theories of Truth: Compositionality as a Criterion
WANG Wenfang
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 156-170.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0010-2

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The traditional way to filter out the implausible candidate solutions to the semantic paradoxes is to appeal to the so-called “cost/benefit analyses.” Yet it is often tedious and controversial to carry out such analyses in detail. Facing this, it would be helpful for us to rely upon some principles to filter out at least something, if not everything, from them. The proposal in this paper is thereby rather simple: We may use principles of compositionality as a “filter” for this purpose. The paper has four sections. In Section 2, the author uses the filter to examine Kripke’s fixed-point theory and to thereby show how it works. In Section 3, the author gives more examples from the classical theories of truth to demonstrate the power of the filter. In Section 4, the author addresses the skepticism concerning whether there is any consistent or non-trivial theory of truth that can survive this filtering procedure. A “nearly sufficient” condition for a theory of truth to survive this test is discussed in order to show that at least some consistent or non-trivial theories of truth do indeed survive the filtering procedure.

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Peter Bol, Neo-Confucianism in History
Diego Cristancho
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (1): 171-175.  
https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-002-013-0011-9

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