Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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Articulating Consciousness: Brentano and Husserl on Descriptive Analysis
Genki Uemura
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 352-379.
Abstract   PDF (363KB)

The paper aims at reconstructing the conception of descriptive analysis shared by Brentano and the early Husserl. According to this shared conception, the descriptive analysis consists in the articulation of the multi-layered part-whole structure of consciousness. Focusing on the problem of intentional reference, the paper shows how they make different distinctions among parts of consciousness to carry out the descriptive analyses thus defined. Further, it shows how such a difference is closely connected to the two philosophers’ views on the nature of intentional reference.

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Toward a Confucian Notion of Human Dignity
WANG Xiaowei
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 7-28.
Abstract   PDF (306KB)

This essay discusses the possibility of conceptualizing a Confucian notion of human dignity. Previous discussions on this topic have been either historical or reconstructive, the former discussing mainly how Confucianism considers dignity and the latter exploring the possibility of conceptualizing a Confucian human dignity as an alternative to Kant’s Menschenwürde. This essay focuses on mainly the latter effort. Specifically, I critically evaluate professor Ni Peimin’s celebrated attempt at reconstructing Confucian dignity in the context of Kant’s Menschenwürde, arguing that Ni’s work offers us novel and original insights on human dignity but fails to be coherent in several senses. On the other hand, Kant’s Menschenwürde may well lack motivation in particular circumstances, and gives no credit to moral efforts. Building upon this criticism, I further Ni’s discussion of the “four hearts” and propose a revised version of Confucian dignity.

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Confucian Moral Imagination and Ethics Education in Engineering
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 36-52.
Abstract   PDF (214KB)

Developing moral imagination is a central yet challenging learning outcome for students in professional education programs for fields including engineering. This paper introduces theories of moral imagination in early Confucian ethical thought and explores what implications can be drawn from these theories for engineering ethics and professional education. Rather than appealing to pre-determined principles, early Confucians advocated a moral particularism and argued that moral actors need to exercise their imaginations to discern diverse factors and constraints present in moral situations. They need to “extract” from moral situations possible reasons for certain actions. Texts such as the Analects should be read as manuals or logs of decision-making rather than as prescriptive guidance or descriptive anecdotes. The moral actions we take in different situations are influenced by the special roles we play in these situations. The nature of a particular role relationship often evokes feelings and expectations characteristic of that relationship. Cultivating and educating our imaginations allows us to draw on diverse human abilities, assess multiple moral strategies, and identify the most suitable (rather than simply calculating “the best”) option that helps to activate our moral selves and grow our relationships with others. Early Confucians proposed a variety of methods for developing moral imaginative capabilities including reflective observation of social interactions, moral thought experiments, analogical extension of familial relations, and the “as-if” rituals. This paper ultimately considers the possible implications of these theories for teaching and learning ethical conduct in engineering, given the increasing interest of the engineering profession in humanitarian engineering and cross-cultural collaboration and the two fields of engineering practice often encompass incomplete knowledge and diverse values.

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From Assessment to Design: What Is Really Needed in Technology Accompaniment to Achieve Subject Constitution?
JIA Lumeng, HUNG Ching
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 73-92.
Abstract   PDF (247KB)

Based on the argument that technologies mediate human experience and praxis, the idea of technology accompaniment has been suggested as an approach to developing human-tech relations. In light of this idea, this paper argues, firstly, that when technologies inevitably have moral relevance in influencing human perceptions and actions, the constitution of a moral subject has much to do with shaping technological mediation deliberately and creatively. While there is not always a direct connection between what humans know and what humans do, technological mediation can help to strengthen people’s motivation to do the right thing. Subsequently, we examine two approaches that have often been suggested for realizing subject-constitution-with-technology: one is Technology Assessment, and the other is Mediation Design. Although the former can equip people with knowledge about technological mediation, it is relatively weak when it comes to directly producing moral behavior. In contrast, the latter not only exerts a more direct impact on user behavior but may also improve people’s moral knowledge. Nonetheless, both approaches face the general challenge of moral education. As moral knowledge does not guarantee moral behavior, knowing facts and theories about technological mediation may not lead to subject constitution as a result of the development of the human-tech relationship. To overcome this difficulty, an extension of the latter approach is proposed. The design of meta-mediation has great potential to shift users’ attention to the aforementioned mediating effect of technology-in-use and, thereby, users’ subject constitution can be enabled.

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Roles and Representations of Women in Early Chinese Philosophy: A Survey
Sarah Craddock, John Preston
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 198-222.
Abstract   PDF (295KB)

An understanding of the roles and representations of women in classical Chinese philosophy is here derived from central texts such as the Analects, the Lienü Zhuan, and the I Ching. We argue that the roles of women during the classical period of Chinese philosophy tended to be as part of the “inner,” working domestically as a housewife and mother. This will be shown from three passages from the Analects. Women were represented as submissive and passive, as with the qualities ascribed to yin energy, and therefore as rightfully subordinate to men. However, despite representations of women in philosophy being thus at this time, there were exceptions, specific women who could take a male “outer” political role. The story of Jing Jiang from the Lienü Zhuan suggests that although women being involved in “outer” affairs were looked down on, there were still women who would be and who would occasionally get praised for doing so. This shows that it was realized, explicitly or otherwise, that women were capable of taking those roles, but also that they were not allowed to take such roles at that time.

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A Neo-Confucian Criticism of Daoism: Wang Fuzhi’s Contradictory Remarks on the Laozi
TAN Mingran
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 93-121.
Abstract   PDF (379KB)

Based on Zhu Xi’s statement that Laozi’s teachings were very cruel, Wang Fuzhi condemned Laozi as a crafty, petty person in his Confucian commentaries. Yet, he had to understand the Laozi or Daodejing sympathetically when he commented on it in Laozi Yan老子衍 (Extended Commentary on the Laozi). As a result, he showed inconsistency in his criticism and evaluation of the author. Some scholars have noted this problem but have not shed ink analyzing it. This essay finds that Wang Fuzhi’s ambiguous attitude toward Laozi results from his Confucian prejudice against other schools and his failure to grasp the breadth and depth of Laozi’s thought. From the perspective of Heaven, Laozi promoted accommodation and non-interference in self-cultivation and governance, summed up by the maxim that “the sage manages affairs without deliberation, and spreads teachings without words.” In contrast, Wang Fuzhi stuck to the distinction between Confucianism and Daoism, and tried to use humanity and ritual propriety to supplement that which Heaven does not provide; as such, he criticized Laozi as crafty and irresponsible. Wang Fuzhi’s criticism neither hits the mark regarding Laozi’s weakness nor maintains a concordance with his earlier sympathetic appraisal in Laozi Yan; the reason for this is that Wang Fuzhi could not fully grasp Laozi’s thought from a Confucian and anthropocentric perspective.

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The Logical Style of Confucius’ Analects
Thierry Lucas
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 167-197.
Abstract   PDF (338KB)

Considered from a logical point of view, Confucius’ Analects contain many implicit forms of reasoning and argumentation. This is shown first by analyzing the phenomenon of parallelism: direct parallelism is often a way of hinting at a general assertion, whereas anti-parallelism hides dilemmas, generalizations and modal notions of “moral preference.” The Analects also have various types of conditionals, ranging from material implications, to modalized implications, and counterfactual conditionals, which are the germs of implicit reasoning, concluding with a moral recommendation. Analogies are particularly abundant and a presentation of three examples suggests that, beyond their explicative role, they also involve moral recommendations. The implicit logic of The Analects requires an active, albeit unconscious participation of the reader, which could be an important element in explaining the enduring influence of the text.

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Wittgenstein’s Peculiar Use of “Internal Relation” in Aspect-Seeing
ZHANG Ligeng
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 143-159.
Abstract   PDF (274KB)

“Internal relation” is a significant term in both Wittgenstein’s early and later philosophy. The term is used in relation to many problems, including our topic here, “aspect-seeing.” Some scholars have attempted to present a persuasive interpretation of this terminology; however, Wittgenstein’s remarks on “aspect-seeing” somehow thwart their approaches. The obstacle lies in the relata involved: Which terms are connected by an internal relation in the perception of an aspect? In this paper, I review the existing interpretations and present two proposals, one of which is conservative and the other slightly more radical. I argue that Wittgenstein makes divergent use of the distinction between “internal/external relations,” and that this may reveal the potential ambiguities of the words “internal” and “relation.”

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Joining the Transformation of Nature—The Post-Natural and Confucian Perspective on Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 53-72.
Abstract   PDF (362KB)

The emergence of the Anthropocene creates a new set of conditions for understanding the relationship between human power and the natural world. These conditions include an increasingly humanized and de-natured natural world, and greater responsibilities of stewardship for human beings. In current literature, there are diverse views on the meaning of the Anthropocene and the role of modern technology in future earth stewardship. Post-natural thought regards the Anthropocene as representing the end of nature, and thus appeals to disenchantment with respect to the idea that nature is an external moral norm. Although this approach correctly addresses the significance of locality and the mutuality between humans and the environment, it fails to provide us with adequate normative boundaries for preventing the endless artificialization of nature. Alternatively, this article defends the position that Confucianism is a more plausible philosophical ground for earth stewardship in the context of the Anthropocene. The Confucian approach is an inclusive humanism which is established on the cosmological ideal of realising the virtue of shengsheng 生生 (life generation) in all beings. Moreover, Confucian ethics draw much attention to the self-regulation of human beings as virtuous persons. This is indeed what is needed in the age of the Anthropocene.

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Analytic Phenomenology (or “What It Is Like”) vs. Husserlian Phenomenology
Heath Williams
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 427-450.
Abstract   PDF (243KB)

I begin this paper by outlining two senses of “phenomenology.” First, the “what it is like” or “analytic tradition” sense: the verbalization of qualitative states of consciousness of which we are aware. Second, the “Continental” sense: the rigorous study of the structures of consciousness. I outline the ways in which these two senses diverge. First, Continental phenomenology involves a diversified account of consciousness, states of awareness, and the human person. The phenomenologist articulates this account not by introspection but via acts of phenomenological reflection concerning eidetic intuitions about essential structural features. Second, via the method of “sense explication,” the phenomenologist can articulate an account of passive and subconscious states which we are not strictly “aware” of. The conclusion shows these divergences of senses are sometimes overlooked, leading to equivocation. Zahavi and Gallagher must be employing the “what it is like” sense when they make certain “phenomenological” arguments concerning social cognition, yet Spaulding’s ensuing critique of phenomenology is directed at Continental phenomenology. Also, it is only phenomenology in the “what it is like” sense which cannot contribute to subpersonal psychology. Genetic Continental phenomenology describes the lawful relations amongst the precursors and preconditions which give rise to conscious experience, constituting a type of (non-causal) subpersonal explanation.

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Complete Virtue and the Definition of Happiness in Aristotle
HU Xinkai
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 293-314.
Abstract   PDF (278KB)

In this paper, I challenge the standard reading of complete virtue (ἀρετή τελεία) in those disputed passages of Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics. I argue that, for Aristotle, complete virtue is neither (i) wisdom nor (ii) a whole set of all virtues. Rather, it is a term used by Aristotle to denote any virtue that is in its complete or perfect form. In light of this reading, I offer a pluralist interpretation of Aristotelian happiness. I argue that for Aristotle, the life-long exercise of a predominant virtue—as long as it is exercised in its complete or perfect form—will suffice for human happiness. The so-called inclusivist and intellectualist notions of Aristotelian happiness, thus understood, are merely two forms (viz. the composite and the non-composite form) of the pluralist notion of Aristotelian happiness. And if I am right, my pluralist interpretation provides an alternative, if not better, solution to the long-standing problem of “dual happiness” in Aristotle.

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How Is the Kantian or Confucian Metaphysics Applicable to Human Dignity—Response to Wang Xiaowei
NI Peimin
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 29-35.
Abstract   PDF (242KB)

Using the opportunity of responding to Wang’s critiques, this short article clarifies a number of important points related to the topic of human dignity. It argues that, only in moving beyond his a priori reasoning by assuming humans to be rational agents can the Kantian theory of dignity be applied to actual humans; only in taking our moral potential as a recommended way of human self-identification can the is-ought dichotomy be resolved; only in respecting human dignity can punishment be justified; and only from its function in shaping our visions and attitudes can a teleological metaphysics be helpful.

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Castañeda’s Moral Theory and Globalization
Francesco Orilia
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (1): 122-142.
Abstract   PDF (229KB)

This paper examines the moral theory presented by Castañeda in his 1974 book The Stucture of Morality and illustrates its usefulness in dealing with some intercultural phenomena concerning women and children rights which globalization has brought to the fore. In particular, Castañeda’s crucial distinction between moral codes and the moral ideal is highlighted. Moreover, the role that freedom and happiness play in his framework is discussed and further elaborated by appealing to Berlin’s distinction between negative and positive freedom and current empirical studies on happiness.

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From Primary Goods to Capability
LI Xianjing
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 315-329.
Abstract   PDF (206KB)

While being generally appreciative of John Rawls’ theory of justice, this paper aims to describe and compare the two metrics of justice—primary goods and capability, and through critiques and responses between Amartya Sen and John Rawls, I argue that the capability metric is a better project than the social primary goods metric insofar as it can provide a more practical path for rethinking the concept of social justice, as well as a better approach in resolving fundamental social justice issues in China.

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Structuring Reality: The Metaphysics of Harmony in Zhang Zai’s Zhengmeng Philosophical System
Filippo Costantini
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 223-241.
Abstract   PDF (282KB)

The essay aims to analyze the concept and the paradigm of harmony in the metaphysical system of the Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhang Zai. It argues that Zhang Zai’s concept of Great Harmony not only inherits the traditional centrality of this idea within the Confucian tradition, but actually presents the most advanced idea of harmony up to his time. In Zhang Zai’s philosophy, harmony becomes the Way itself, which includes the realm of principles and the outward and functional manifestations of reality. This essay will deal with harmony in two ways: first with Zhang Zai’s direct use of the concept in the Zhengmeng and second, applying the paradigm of harmony to other of Zhang Zai’s key concepts such as qi 氣, void (xu 虛) and natural dispositions (xing 性).

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Discussion about the Triple Foundational Relationship between Intellect, Emotion, and Willing from the Perspective of the Phenomenology of Consciousness
NI Liangkang
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 493-508.
Abstract   PDF (293KB)

There are at least three foundational relationships between the three conscious acts of intellect, emotion, and willing. Section 2 covers the structural foundational relationship (Brentano and Husserl in his early period): all conscious acts are intentional and can be divided into objectifying (intuition and representation) and non-objectifying acts (emotion and willing). Because a non-objectifying act cannot constitute an object, things must be based on objectifying acts and the object constituted by the latter; in this sense, a non-objectifying act is rooted in an objectifying one. Section 3 explains the genetic foundational issue with consciousness (Husserl in his later period, Scheler, and Heidegger): the stream of consciousness has its earliest origins and follows a process where it gradually unfolds. The earliest origin is the intentional willing, followed by nonintentional feelings, and, finally, the representation and thinking of willing. Intentional activity taking place afterward must be based on the conscious activity that has come already. Section 4 points out that, apart from the two aforementioned kinds of foundational relationships (i.e. structural and genetic), a third foundational relationship (i.e. dynamic) can also be found between the conscious acts of intellect, emotion, and willing in the Consciousness-only school (a Buddhist tradition in the East). In a continuous activity, the foundational relationship between the three aspects of intellect, emotion, and willing always remains encased in dynamic changes, and the change of primary and secondary roles (i.e. a change in the foundational relationship) could happen at any time. From this perspective, one can explain and resolve the confrontation and conflicts between the two former foundational relationships.

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Husserlian Phenomenology and Derridean Deconstruction: Their Fundamental Methodological Commitments
Saulius Geniusas
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 451-471.
Abstract   PDF (236KB)

This paper reinterprets the relation between Derridian deconstruction and Husserlian phenomenology on the basis of their respective methodological commitments. According to the proposed view, epoché, reduction, and eidetic variation are the fundamental methodological principles of Husserlian phenomenology. This paper interprets Derrida’s reading of Husserl as presenting a type of semiological reductionism, which is marked by the absorption of the fundamental phenomenological principles within a semiological framework. Conceiving of meaning as a sign that refers to other signs, Derrida contends that neither epoché, nor reduction, nor eidetic variation can be carried through successfully; their validity is thereby indefinitely deferred. This paper also addresses the relationship between indication and expression, the Principle of all Principles, the living present, and their alleged deconstruction in Derrida’s writings. I conclude with some suggestions concerning how, apart from deconstructing phenomenology, one could also phenomenologize deconstruction. According to my suggestion, this would require problematizing evidence that underlies the central claims and commitments of deconstruction.

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The Marginality of Phenomenology
ZHANG Xianglong
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 472-492.
Abstract   PDF (359KB)

The essence of Husserl’s intentionality does not lie in any object, but in the marginal horizon presupposed by intentional acts. This characteristic can be seen whether on the level of intensional act or that of noema (intentional object). The reason is that all intentional act and noema come from the stream of internal time consciousness, and thus have Zeithof (time halo or time aureole), while the original meaning constituted by such a halo is prior to the object they are concretized into, and the noema that contains the possibility of meaning will also be intuited together with the perceived adumbration. Using Husserl’s idea that the meaning of non-objectification is prior to the object, Scheler breaks through Husserl’s dogma that the presentation of an object must precede the giving of value to the object, and thus puts forward the new train of thought that the feeling of value is not later than the objectification, or even prior to it. Heidegger deepens and expands the sense of the marginal horizon, revealing in all human behaviors and world presentation such an ontological structure, that is, halo-like meaning or the act of Being itself precedes objects and beings created by the separation of subject and object. Maurice Merleau-Ponty states that the body field is prior to the separation of body and mind, and the body’s perception of external phenomena is first carried out in the manner of field rather than definite objects, therefore, it must have the original ambiguity and be realized in the form of body schema instead of a causal chain. So, the philosophical vitality of phenomenology does not significantly lie in the explanation of the levels and functions of intentional objects, but in the construction premise of such objects, namely, the spatio-temporal halo manifested as marginal horizon, time stream, and the displaying of existential vista.

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To Anchor a Pure De Se
ZONG Desheng
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 270-292.
Abstract   PDF (271KB)

A significant number of philosophers in the recent debate regarding the case of de se subscribe to two theses—an existence thesis and an ascription thesis, as I call them. Whether or not these philosophers are correct, I show that given these two theses, there is conceptual space for what I call in this paper “the case of pure de se,” i.e. de se attitudes and de se content ascribed with the use of sentences made up entirely of indexicals. The type of de se case that has been the focus of the on-going debate turns out to be a derivative case, more appropriately called “mixed de se.” For those who are committed to the existence thesis and the ascription thesis, the existence of pure de se poses an explanatory challenge. In this paper I develop an account of pure de se, centered on the notion of anchorage.

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Day and Night Overlap: Jan Patočka’s Phenomenological Interpretation of the Front-Line Experience
LI Jing
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 409-426.
Abstract   PDF (273KB)

With insight from the methodology of phenomenology, Jan Patočka draws multiple meanings from the special front-line experience, including new understanding of the fringe of death, absolute freedom, universal responsibility, and solidarity with enemies. The front-line experience is in sharp contrast with daily life experience, and is regarded by Patočka as a continuous consciousness of problematization toward history. This consciousness, which the front-line experience gives rise to, can be maintained through true care for reality and history. Patočka names this “care for the soul” and regards it as the core of the European spirit. The potential philosophical and historical value of the front-line experience urges Patočka to maintain an eternal fight, and he eventually concludes that it is this eternal fight that brings forth eternal peace.

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Husserl’s Intercultural Implication of Ethical Renewal and Theoretical Rationality: A Reappraisal from an East Asian Perspective
YU Chung-Chi
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 509-531.
Abstract   PDF (250KB)

In the Kaizo articles, written between 1922 and 1924, Husserl touched on the intercultural relationship between “the European” and “the non-European.” Husserl addressed Japan as he dealt with ethical and cultural renewal in his Kaizo articles. Husserl wished to spread the European spiritual gestalt, which he comprehended as a universal theoretical rationality to remote cultures. At that time, Husserl imagined China as unfamiliar and remote. He even used China as a typical example of alienworld when he dealt with the problem of cultural difference. This paper reappraises Husserl’s thesis by exploring Eurocentrism as a factor that might impede the willingness for non-Western or non-European cultures to accept the idea of European spiritual gestalt. This paper suggests that the non-Western or non-European cultures should take delight in learning from Europe and carry out what Husserl had in mind about the meaning of “renewal.”

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Heidegger, Communal Being, and Politics
WANG Qingjie
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 395-408.
Abstract   PDF (211KB)

There are two critical, but opposite interpretations of Heidegger’s understanding of being as a social ontology. One charges Heidegger with adhering to an anti-social “private irony,” while the other charges him with promoting a “self-canceling” totality. The current essay replies to these two charges with a discussion of Heidegger’s understanding of being as “communal being,” which is implicated both in the early Heidegger’s concept of “being-in-the-world-with-others” and in the later Heidegger’s keyword of Ereignis. It argues that Heidegger’s understanding of being as communal being is neither identical with totalitizing publicness nor the same as voluntaristic egotism. According to Heidegger, both the publicness of das Man and voluntaristic egotism are the real threats to humanity at present. Because of them, we human beings are in danger of being uprooted from the earth upon which we—as communal beings—have already and always dwelled and lived with others from the very beginning of human history.

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Formalism and Heteronomy qua Logonomy—On Max Scheler’s Critique and Development of Kant’s Ethics
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (3): 380-394.
Abstract   PDF (265KB)

How should Scheler’s critique of Kant’s ethics be interpreted? This paper focuses on two aspects of Scheler’s critique of Kant’s ethics: 1) the problem of “formalism” in Kant’s ethics, and 2) the problem of the “ethics of autonomy” and “ethics of heteronomy.” Generally speaking, Scheler’s project has a “modern” starting point; that is to say, his work starts with the rejection or critique of Kant and Aristotle. Most essentially, Scheler’s “material ethics of values” (ethics of person) must stay autonomous. Following Kant, Scheler takes Aristotle’s theory as an “ethics of heteronomy,” and then competes with Kant within the “ethics of autonomy” and further develops his own “ethics of personal autonomy.”

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Toward a Multi-Layered Chiasme-Focused Topology: A Reading of Merleau-Ponty’s Later Writings
MA Lin
Front. Philos. China    2020, 15 (2): 242-269.
Abstract   PDF (324KB)

This paper traces the genealogy of reversibility, chiasma, and chiasme in Merleau-Ponty’s writings and offers a new characterisation of his later ontology in terms of a multi-layered chiasme-focused topology informed by subtle differences and interconnections among these notions. We need to grasp the significance of reversibility not only in terms of constant recoil and impossible overlap but also of its situatedness in the crisscrossing between Dasein and things, and between the inside/invisible and the outside/visible. “Chiasma” was initially introduced as a reference to the intersection of perspectives. Merleau-Ponty deploys it to articulate macroscopic insights concerning the nature of philosophy and the interweaving connections between self, other, and the world. In comparison, “reversibility” is primarily used to describe the microscopic bond between touching-touched and perceiving-perceived. I argue that, as Merleau-Ponty’s ultimate choice of wording, “chiasme” incorporated the significance of both “reversibility” and “chiasma.” A chiasme-focused topology that retains the significance of all three of the terms would serve to better convey the import of Merleau-Ponty’s later ontology, which aims to dissolve and to re-configure our conceptions about being, body, self, and the other from within and from below.

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