Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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YAO Xinzhong
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 373-375.

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The Role Dilemma in Early Confucianism
John Ramsey
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 376-387.

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Recently, Sean Cordell has raised a problem for Aristotelians who seriously consider social roles: When the demands of the role conflict with the demands of morality, which norms ought one follow? However, this problem, which I call the role dilemma, is not specific to Aristotelians. Classical Confucians face a similar problem. How do Confucians resolve conflicts between the demands of humaneness (ren 仁) and the demands of social roles and the social norms (li 礼) that govern these roles? Confucians who favor humaneness, maintaining that other demands are defeasible, offer an externalism about roles. This response is similar to the Aristotelian argument that the demands of human excellence trump other demands. Consequently, Confucian externalism collapses into a virtue ethic. Confucians who favor the demands of li offer an internalism about roles. However, internalism is undesirable because it implies relativism and condones oppressive social institutions. The Confucian role ethicist must offer a tenable solution that steers clear of the pitfalls of both externalism and internalism. Although I do not advance a solution here, I believe a tenable alternative exists. The goals of this paper, instead, are to demonstrate that classical Confucians face the role dilemma and to initiate a discussion about the theoretical apparatus required of Confucian role ethics in order to distinguish it from other ethical theories. I conclude with some programmatic remarks about additional questions and problems that ought to be addressed.

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Xunzi: A Paradigm of Rationalistic Virtue Ethics in Early Confucianism
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 388-396.

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Against the background of modern academic study, this article consciously uses Aristotle’s virtue ethics as a tool to theoretically analyze Xunzi’s ethical philosophy. This article tries to briefly analyze the basic structure of Xunzi’s moral philosophy and to reveal its unique rationalist theoretical character by exploring the following three topics: “the understanding of human beings,” “the establishment of a moral foundation,” and “the accomplishment of virtue in practice.” From the perspective of comparative philosophy, this article can also be viewed as a model for bringing about communication and synthesis between two philosophical traditions, namely Confucian ethics and Western virtue ethics.

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A Comparative Study on Confucius’ and Chrysippus’ Cosmopolitan Theories
QU Hongmei
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 397-409.

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A large number of papers and books on cosmopolitanism have been published since 1990, marking a renewed interest in the field among Western scholars. When we try to locate the original source of cosmopolitan ideas in human civilization, we find Chrysippus’ thought in western philosophy, and Confucius’ as its eastern counterpart. In this paper, I offer a comparative analysis of Confucius’ and Chrysippus’ cosmopolitan theories from the following three perspectives. I begin with the theoretical origins of the two thinkers on cosmopolitanism, which mainly center on the relationship between human beings and nature in their respective natural philosophies, and on the question of how to be a good person from their moral philosophies. Then, I explain the concrete schemes they posit for a cosmopolitan society. Finally, I compare their differing concerns regarding one’s attitude to family members or fellow citizens, which constitutes the main source of disagreement between them. In conclusion, I propose that both of their ideas can be located within a continuum of “moral cosmopolitanism.” The difference being that Confucius holds to a moderate cosmopolitan idea, while Chrysippus prefers a stricter version of cosmopolitanism.

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Xunzi Versus Zhuangzi: Two Approaches to Death in Classical Chinese Thought
Chris Fraser
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 410-427.

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The contrasting approaches to death and bereavement in classical Confucianism and Daoism epitomize the different orientations of the two ethical traditions. Confucianism, here represented by Xunzi, interprets and manages death and bereavement through distinctive cultural practices, specifically rituals and associated norms of propriety, which are intended to bring order, harmony, and beauty to human events and conduct. Daoism, here represented by the Zhuangzi, contextualizes and copes with death and loss through an understanding of and identification with natural processes. Both approaches address death and bereavement through a systematic, naturalistic philosophy of life that makes no appeal to a conception of divinity or a personal afterlife. For Xunzi, the heart of this system is ritual propriety, through which all human affairs—including inevitable, natural events such as death—must be mediated. For the Zhuangzi, by contrast, rigid, ritualized cultural forms are an obstacle to coping efficiently with natural processes such as death. Rather than constructing a sphere of “the human” as distinct from “the natural,” the Zhuangzi urges us to situate the human within nature in a way that removes the opposition between the two. This essay contrasts and critiques the two approaches, contending that although Xunzi’s theory of ritual presents a plausible account of the relation between humanity, culture, and nature, it fails to address death appropriately as an inexorable, natural event. By contrast, the Zhuangzi presents an attractive way of relating human life and death to nature and thus perhaps offers a means of finding solace concerning death. The essay suggests, however, that the Zhuangist stance may be grounded primarily in a certain ethical or aesthetic attitude, rather than in an objectively compelling argument. Ultimately, both approaches may rest as much on contrasting ethical and aesthetic sensibilities as on rational argumentation.

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On the “Theological Turn” in French henomenology
HAO Changchi
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 428-450.

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In this paper, I show that the claim for a “theological turn” in French phenomenology is not tenable by analyzing the relation between transcendencies and the modes of givenness in Husserl, the relation between the ethical transcendence and its mode of givenness in Levinas, and the question of the self of phenomenon and giveness in Marion. I argue that the inner motive of phenomenology requires it to go beyond the horizon of objectness and the question about God or theological issues are determined as part of its essential task in phenomenology. The principle of “go to the thing itself” does not predetermine or presuppose what phenomenology should deal with; it is always the thing itself that imposes itself on phenomenology.

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Kant’s Virtue as Strength
LIU Jing
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 451-470.

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The revival of virtue ethics has been accompanied by an increasing interest in Kant’s theory of virtue. Many scholars claim that virtue plays an important role in Kant’s moral theory. However, some worries and disagreements have arisen within the camp of contemporary virtue ethics concerning the Kantian concept of virtue. Some scholars have pointed out that Kantian virtue is at best nothing more than Aristotelian continence, that is, strength of will in the face of contrary emotions and appetites, and hence not a real virtue. In response to these criticisms and worries concerning Kant’s concept of virtue, this paper examines the question of whether Kant’s account of virtue is only a reformulation of Aristotle’s idea of continence. My analysis focuses on Kant’s concept of inner freedom, his ideas about latitude in the imperfect duties of virtue, and his notion of the perfection of virtue. I thus attempt to provide some evidence of the significant differences between Aristotelian continence and Kant’s virtue as strength. Then I explore the significance of Kant’s virtue as strength. Finally, I argue that Kant’s virtue as strength not only is not Aristotle’s idea of continence but also is located at a much higher level, that is, the state of inner freedom and the mental attitude of a human being’s soul.

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Aquinas’s Transformation of the Virtue of Courage
LU Qiaoying
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 471-484.

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Courage is an important moral virtue for both Aristotle and Aquinas. For Aristotle, courage is a virtue that belongs to warriors who are ready for a noble death on the battlefield. As a Christian theologian as well as an Aristotelian expert, Aquinas aims to give this Aristotelian moral virtue a fully theological expression. This paper analyzes the differences between Aquinas’s conception of courage and Aristotle’s, as well as explores Aquinas’s transformation of Aristotelian courage through a three part process. Firstly, based on Aristotle’s paradigm of courageous warriors in battle, Aquinas extends the scope of “battle” from the military sense to a broader one. By doing so, Aquinas expands the range of application of courage. Secondly, Aquinas explicitly defines endurance as the chief act of courage based on the reason that endurance is more difficult than aggression, thereby shifting our attention from the attack aspect of courage to the endurance aspect. Finally, Aquinas defines the principal act of perfect courage as martyrdom thereby pointing to Christ, who was the perfect martyr, as the paradigm of a courageous person. The result of this transformation is a successful theological virtue of courage.

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Does Conditional Affordance Imply Representational Non-Conceptual Content?
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 485-497.

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Jan Alm?ng believes that James J. Gibson’s notion of affordances offers a reason to reject John McDowell’s thesis that representational perceptual content is conceptual through and through. I argue that Alm?ng’s arguments for the claim that the perceptual content in which conditional affordances feature can be both representational and non-conceptual are questionable.

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Beyond Language: Using Logic to Introduce New Philosophical Distinctions
Sven Ove Hansson
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 498-506.

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Philosophy has to be communicable in language, and therefore, whatever it has to say must be expressible in (some) language. But in order to make progress, philosophy has to gradually extend and improve its terminological apparatus. It is argued that logical formalization is a highly useful tool for discovering and confirming distinctions that are not present in ordinary language or in pre-existing philosophical terminology. In particular, it is proposed that if two usages of a word require different logical formalizations, then that is a strong reason to distinguish between them also in informal philosophy. The distinction between two types of normative conditionals, conditional veritable norms and conditional normative rules, is used as an example to corroborate this proposal.

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Why Logical Revisabilism Is Wrong
WEI Yanxia
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 507-517.

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The legacy of logical revisabilism is a hot issue in the philosophy of logic in China. Logical revisabilism holds that Quine is the source of this theory, and that non-classical logic is an instance of logical revision. Here, the reason for logical revisability is due to false descriptive elements in logic. Quine may not agree with logical revisabilism because he thinks that only first-order logic is the orthodox logic, there being no instance of logical revision. Logical revisabilists do not discuss the problem of logical revision on the same level. What’s more, there is an unsolved problem with logical revisabilism, which is explaining “the false descriptive elements in logic.”

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E.J. Michael Witzel, The Origins of the World’s Mythologies
Whitley R. P. Kaufman
Front Phil Chin. 2013, 8 (3): 518-523.

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13 articles