Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

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Orginal Article
Approaching Laozi : Comparing a Syncretic Reading to a Synthetic One
Thomas Michael, CHEN Yazhou
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 10-25.

Abstract   PDF (311KB)

Is Laozi a syncretic text whose primary body of ideas were cobbled together from multiple and various sources, none of which can reasonably be identified as Daoist, or is it a synthetic text whose ideas emerged from a single source that for all intents embodies the core elements of a tradition that meets the standards of inclusion for a tradition of early Daoism? The present work examines the key points of Hongkyung Kim’s sophisticated account of Laozi’s origins as a syncretic text. It then goes on to present the key points of what would have to be involved in its original circulations as a synthetic text. It concludes by suggesting a middle ground that is able to explain why an originally synthetic Laozi is all too easily read by modern scholars as a syncretic text.

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A Process Interpretation of Daoist Thought
Alan Fox
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 26-37.

Abstract   PDF (294KB)

Despite the fact that the Dao De Jing 道德經 is one of the most frequently translated texts in history, most of these translations share certain unexamined and problematic assumptions which often make it seem as though the text is irrational, incoherent, and full of non sequiturs. Frequently, these assumptions involve the imposition of historically anachronous, linguistically unsound, and philosophically problematic categories and attitudes onto the text. One of the main causes of the problem is the persistent tendency on the part of most translators to read the first line of the text as referring to or implying the existence of some kind of “eternal Dao.” These are what I term “ontological” readings, as opposed to the “process” reading I will be articulating here.

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Ji Kang on Nourishing Life
David Chai
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 38-53.

Abstract   PDF (275KB)

Ji Kang’s “An Essay on Nourishing Life” has, for much of its history, been overshadowed by his more famous work “Sound is without Grief or Joy.” Be that as it may, “An Essay on Nourishing Life” is also an important text in that it delves into the interdependence of the heart-mind, spirit, and vital breath, and into how harmony between them is the key to ensuring physical longevity. In addition to investigating this aspect of his thought, this paper will also discuss Ji Kang’s attention to the vicissitudes of knowledge and desire and to the need to temper them with tranquility and stillness. “An Essay on Nourishing Life” can thus be read as an extension of classical Daoist theories of self-cultivation while at the same time elaborating upon them by bringing together their disparate components into a coherently unified doctrine.

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The Symbolism of the Body in Daoism
CHENG Lesong
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 54-71.

Abstract   PDF (321KB)

The body is the center of Daoist practice. In addition to being the carrier of feelings, experiences, and actions, it also plays a major role in the construction and interpretation of religious meanings. What is important here is how it serves as the starting point and springboard for practitioners seeking either to obtain the ideal state of being or acquire transcendent powers. This article explores the formation of the body as a symbol in Daoism, and analyzes its corresponding implications. I attempt to do this through a close textual reading of Daoist texts and a critical review of previous academic work on the Daoist conception of body. Within Daoism, the body is neither some physical object, nor a spirit-flesh hybrid that is the subject of theological reflection. It is the vehicle to immortality, and is in itself a small pantheon to be discovered and promoted. As such, it is an open and rich symbol that both generates and integrates meanings on different levels. The symbol of the body not only brings together diverse meanings, but it also provides a conduit through which these meanings are expressed. After taking on religious meaning, the body comes to actualize its potentiality through Daoist practice and cultivation.

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The B-Theory of Time and the Notion of Change in the Yijing
JeeLoo Liu
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 72-89.

Abstract   PDF (322KB)

This paper engages in a comparative analytic study of the notions of time and change in the Yijing. It analyzes the Yijing’s philosophy of time as a version of the B-theory of time, which regards time as having multiple timelines, without any “privileged present.” In the Yijing’s hexagrams, events and situations are characterized by earlier than, simultaneous with, and later than relationships. Time in the Yijing does not have a unique “present”; rather, time is marked by relationships among events and situations. Furthermore, in the Yijing’s philosophy of time, change is essential to the existence of time; change is what makes time possible.

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Growth, Experience and Nature in Dewey’s Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy
LIU Jing
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 90-103.

Abstract   PDF (312KB)

Growth is an important concept in Dewey’s philosophy, and, indeed, its ultimate focus. It is not, however, an easy task to posit growth as an ethical ideal, for here Dewey immediately faces a metaphysical dilemma: whether to offer us an objective standard of growth, which becomes a type of absolutism, or to inevitably fall into relativism. This paper explores how Dewey avoids this dilemma with his concept of experience, which is interrogated through the relationship between human beings and nature. Still, human growth in nature involves the cultivation of virtuosities (de 德) in accordance with the rhythm of nature, and requires a completely different way of life other than our technological one. For this reason, I use Chinese philosophy, specifically ideas from the Yijing, to show how growth can be illustrated through the interaction between humans and the natural world.

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Between Darwin and Hegel: On Dewey’s Concept of Experience
CHEN Yajun
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 104-119.

Abstract   PDF (253KB)

“Experience” is so central to Dewey’s philosophy that one must, first of all, understand what he means by the term. Diverging from the traditional conception of experience, Dewey’s understanding involves two dimensions, namely, naturalism and historicism; in this, it can be seen as the unification of Darwinism and Hegelianism. Without attending to its dimension of naturalism, one would ignore experience’s basic character, namely that of receptivity, while without attending to the aspect of historicism, one would ignore experience’s dimension of meaning, its character of spontaneity. Dewey’s notion of experience is unique. Its true value can be seen more clearly in comparison with the conceptions of experience advanced by Quine and McDowell.

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Critique, Ethics, and the Apparatus of Experience: A Foucauldian Framework
Timothy O’Leary
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 120-136.

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The paper explores examples of contemporary experience in order to demonstrate the moralisation of new areas of behaviour (especially in relation to environmental issues). It sketches a Foucauldian framework for understanding the historical transformation of experience, in terms of the “apparatus of experience.” On that basis, it presents a novel account of critique, in which critique is seen as the potentially transformational, experiential practice of re-experiencing the contemporary apparatuses of experience. In other words, critique is “experience squared.” It is this re-experiencing of our everyday experience that permits us, to a certain extent, to “get over ourselves” and thus to reflect critically on the processes of moralisation and de-moralisation in which we participate.

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A Critical Examination of Anselm’s Ontological Argument
ZHANG Junguo
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 137-150.

Abstract   PDF (235KB)

This paper argues that St. Anselm’s distinction of the two senses of existence in his ontological argument for the existence of God renders Paul Tillich’s refutation of it invalid. At the same time, Anselm misuses the two types of existence in his ontological comparison, leading to a logical contradiction between the different kinds and degrees of existence. Since Anselm’s idea of different reference subjects does not coherently solve this logical absurdity, Anselm’s ontological argument falls well short of being a successful approach to establishing the existence of God.

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Descartes’ Metaphysical Doubts about Clear and Distinct Perception
Front. Philos. China. 2017, 12 (1): 151-181.

Abstract   PDF (361KB)

Descartes’ metaphysical doubts in the Third and Fifth Meditations present a scenario like this: it is possible that I (the Meditator) am so imperfect as to be deceived by my author (i.e., an omnipotent God/Deceiver) in the matters which I think I perceive clearly and distinctly. The metaphysical doubts attempt to cast doubt on beliefs based on present or recollected clear and distinct perceptions. This paper clarifies the intension of the metaphysical doubts by answering the question of how an omnipotent God/Deceiver might exercise a deceptive influence on clear and distinct perception. My analysis shows: (1) the memory interpretation and the retrospective interpretation to be implausible; (2) the incoherence interpretation to be ill-founded, though its conclusion is partly right, such that we should accept a weaker version of it; (3) the misrepresentation interpretation, the defective-origin interpretation, the truth-value variation interpretation and the radical interpretation to be plausible; (4) all of these credible interpretations to be compatible with each other as well.

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12 articles