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An orthodox sceptical hypothesis claims that one’s belief that “I am not a brain-in-a-vat (BIV)” (or any other ordinary anti-sceptical belief) is insensitive. A form of sensitivity-based scepticism, can thus be constructed by combining this orthodox hypothesis with the sensitivity principle and the closure principle. Unlike traditional solutions to the sensitivity-based sceptical problem, this paper will propose a new solution—one which does not reject either closure or sensitivity. Instead, I argue that sceptics’ assumption that one’s ordinary anti-sceptical beliefs are insensitive will give rise to self-contradiction. The orthodox sceptical hypothesis is thus revealed to be incoherent and arbitrary. Given that there is no coherent reason to presuppose our ordinary anti-sceptical beliefs to be insensitive, the argument for sensitivity-based scepticism can thus be blocked at a lower epistemological cost.
Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi’s interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi’s view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational proximity and its limits, setting up requirements for moral action in scenarios where relational ties do not play a motivational role. I set out yi’s complexity in these discussions, highlighting its implications for (i) the nei-wai debate; (ii) the notion of yi as “rightness,” or doing the right thing; and (iii) how we can understand the connection between virtue and right action in these early Confucian debates. This material from the excavated texts not only provides new perspectives on a longstanding investigation of human nature and morality, it also challenges prevailing views on Warring States Confucian intellectual history.
The notion of timê (τιμή, normally translated “honour”) is a key concept when it comes to thinking about virtues, roles, and duties in ancient Greek ethics and society, both in popular and in philosophical terms. This discussion concentrates on the work of the fifth-century historian, Herodotus, where the idea of timê as the fulfilment of a specific role in society takes on particular and interesting inflections. In Herodotus, as in Greek generally, timê covers both the esteem that one receives from others and the claim to esteem that the individual him- or herself brings to bear in social interaction. Thus timê is both “deference” and “demeanour” (to use Goffman’s terminology). As a quality of an individual that commands others’ respect, timê also encompasses the roles that are bound up with one’s status. Roles and offices express, attract, and demand timê, but such demands are normally constrained by reciprocal respect for the timê of others. The office of the Persian king, however, appears at first sight to involve unconditional claims to recognition respect, powerful drives towards appraisal respect (in Darwall’s terminology), and only limited acknowledgement of either ethical norms or others claims as potential limitations to regal self-assertion. Closer inspection, however, reveals that the values of mutual respect that underpin the freedom enjoyed by citizens of Greek poleis are also felt by Herodotus to ground claims to freedom and independence on the part of those poleis themselves, claims that the historian’s narrative suggests are ultimately upheld by the gods and embedded in the structure of the cosmos itself.
This title refers to what I see as the state of synonymy between the word “husbandry” in English and the word se 嗇 in Chinese. There are points of striking similarity, not only in the meaning and usage of these two words, but also in the changes in their usage over time, and I have found a comparative study of the etymology of these two words to be mutually illuminating. The similarity and potential for mutual analysis between these two case studies speaks to the universality of metaphor in thought and its expression, as well as the influence of shared experiences, such as agricultural practices, on how we talk about ideas that are more abstract. In English, the idea of a general practice of husbandry derived from the idea of the husbandman or farmer in Late Medieval English (C13th onwards). A more abstracted sense of husbandry, understood as an attitude that may be applied to abstract and intangible objects is witnessed in Shakespeare’s sonnets in the C16th. This sense of husbandry, the husbandry of intangible resources, is also precisely the sense that is developed by a small and specialised group of writers in China represented by texts dating from the pre-Qin period to the Eastern Jin dynasty, following a similar progression from agricultural to ever more metaphorical senses of the practice of husbandry. The similarity of the process through which these abstracted meanings developed from concrete usage in both cases makes the pair mutually illustrative as I hope to show in this paper.
Greek philosophers in general share a strong commitment to a life of reason and excellence. It is therefore surprising to see some of them argue in defense of symposiastic drunkenness. This essay investigates several such arguments. Its main source texts are books I and II of Plato’s Laws and a passage in the excerpts on Peripatetic ethics in the doxography of Arius Didymus. The arguments are analyzed and situated in a broader cultural and philosophical context. The Peripatetic passage approves of drunkenness as an aspect of certain established forms of communal activity, with the caveat that the virtuous person will not desire drunkenness for its own sake. While it is clear that the Peripatetic author grounds the need for communal activities in our social nature, he fails to justify the existence of communal activities that lead to drunkenness. Plato’s arguments, by contrast, sketch out and justify a new, non-traditional framework for certain highly regulated forms of communal drunkenness. His first main argument relates to the goal of testing and nursing self-control through exposure to wine, while the second is based on the idea that the rejuvenating force of wine renders mature men again susceptible to the formative influence of song and dance as vehicles of good ethical qualities.
This paper considers the difference between the values attached to love of country in early China and in today’s world, through exploration of a series of concept clusters centered on “loyalty,” “glory,” “honor,” and “identity.” Using a wide array of sources, including legends about exemplary figures in antiquity, it assesses the extent to which patriotism or something like patriotism was a normative value in the distant past. It also outlines the appropriate limits of patriotism which the early thinkers insisted upon, thinking them useful guidelines for today.
Confucius emphasises the importance of humaneness (ren 仁) and rites (li 禮). Socrates, on the other hand, is often interpreted as a person who places far more importance on rational thinking, even to the exclusion of natural human feelings, especially on the ground of his attitude towards the sorrow of his wife and friends on his last day as described in Plato’s Phaedo. Through clarifying two long-time riddles in this dialogue—namely, “What did Socrates mean by his last words, requesting Crito to offer a cock to Asclepius?” and “Was Plato really absent from the prison on Socrates’ last day, due to illness, as is mentioned by Phaedo?”—this paper argues that Socrates kept in mind the best interest of his wife and friends even at the moment of his death, and that his humane attitude is expressed in his last words, which were not only an expression of gratitude for Plato’s recovery from a critical illness but also an exhortation to his friends to continue their care of the soul.
Both the Mohist canon and the works of Aristotle recognize that people sometimes fail to act according to virtues, roles and duties, what in a Western context is called akrasia or “weakness of will,” an important topic in both Greek and contemporary philosophy. I argue that questions of akrasia are treated different in the early Chinese and ancient Greek philosophy. Greek accounts focus on issues of will and control, while some Chinese thinkers treat akrasia as a lack of a skill, and the failure to act in the right way is less lack of will than lack of skill. I begin with a brief account of the problem of akrasia as first presented by Plato in the “Protagoras” and Republic, and developed by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics. I then turn to akrasia in an early Chinese context, focusing on a very different Mohist view of akrasia as lack of a skill. Finally, I contrast the “skill” the Mohists find lacking with a very different account of skill in the Zhuangzi.
The late Zhou of China and the Classical age of Greece both saw great impetus in intellectual thought and were marked by intense warfare. Being closely linked to warfare in antiquity, sports was a vital, commonplace activity whose jargon and practices naturally informed philosophical discourses. One can thus observe convergences between athletics and ethics in texts which took shape in these times and places, a phenomenon which I shall refer to as “athl-ethics.” In this paper, I separately examine and then compare athl-ethic phenomenon in Mencius and in the Nicomachean Ethics. Both texts are rife with sports metaphors. I regard the use of sports-derived imagery as a thin form of athl-ethicism. Sports, however, did more than inspire useful analogies. Physical training and competition were considered occasions for nourishing and practicing virtue. This generated thicker forms of athl-ethicism.
The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義) is a Chinese text of the 17th century written by the Italian sinologist and missionary Matteo Ricci. It contains, among other topics, a discussion between a Confucian scholar and a Christian about the motivation to act. For Confucianism a good action should be performed for its own sake, without any thought of future reward. For Christianity it seems that good actions are performed in order to go to Heaven. Ricci argues that human actions are complex. The ultimate motivation for goodness comes from a relation with God. The Confucian scholar claims that actually not all actions need a motive. Sometimes things “just happen.” Also, a good tradition can move people to behave properly. Dealing with topics such as soul, eternal life, causes, descendants, tradition, happiness and proper behavior, this dialogue offers a great insight of the meeting of two great traditions: Confucianism and Christianity.
The Four Books were a frequent point of reference in publications during the Chinese Rites Controversy. In the Tian Ru Yin (1664), the Franciscan Antonio de Santa María Caballero (1602–69) used an allegorical approach, interpreting the true meaning of the Chinese Classics as Christian revelation while rejecting the traditional reading of the Confucian Classics. On the contrary, the Jesuits in the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687) used a rationalistic approach, harmonizing Western intellectualism with Confucianism. We shall show how these two interpretations are rooted in different theological traditions, leading the two sides to take opposite stances in the Chinese Rites Controversy.
On 29 September 1584, the first Catholic catechism was printed in China under the title The True Record of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shilu 天主實錄). Written primarily by the Jesuit missionary Michele Ruggieri (1543–1607) with the assistance of at least two other Jesuits and Chinese interpreters, the catechism inaugurated the rich cultural exchange between China and Europe for which the Jesuit China mission would be renown. Despite the pioneering role of this catechism, it has been viewed for the most part by posterity as a pale forerunner of the later catechism by Ruggieri’s confrère, Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義). This article attempts to skirt the anachronistic comparison with Ricci’s Tianzhu Shiyi by proposing the Tianzhu Shilu as an autonomous text expressive of a cogent strategy for tailoring Western scholasticism to the contingencies of the Chinese cultural context.
This paper discusses Guanzi’s philosophy regarding how the state should levy taxes. As Guanzi writes, people react individually to what they perceive as taxes, whereas government wants people not to react at all and simply pay the levies. Based on a philosophical analysis of human action, Guanzi suggests introducing a consumption tax on salt and iron. First, people have no way of evading them; second, because of the implicit character of the tax, people will not notice it. Therefore, these taxes will not influence behavior. This paper uses this discussion as a case study in order to show how Guanzi’s philosophy differs from other forms of Legalism. It will be shown that Guanzi is foremost a pragmatic thinker willing to use Confucian and Legalist elements, amalgamating them into policy-advice. The paper, however, does not discuss issues of Sinology as they relate to the text of the Guanzi, taking the text instead as a philosophical body.
Role as Norm, Role and Norm: Homer’s Hero, Hesiod’s Just City, and Plato’s Kallipolis
This paper is aimed to show how the libertarian conception of free choice is mistaken or misleading by focusing on Robert Kane’s attempt to solve the problem of luck, which arguably constitutes the most serious challenge to libertarianism about free will. I will argue that either Kane’s solution to the problem of luck falls into some inconsistency or he must introduce the requirement of contrastive explanation into his account of plural voluntary control. Either way, Kane fails to show how his emphasis on the requirement of plural voluntary control is made consistent with his unswerving commitment to the requirement of the libertarian free will for a metaphysical indeterminism.
The Mingli Tan is recognized as the first Chinese-language treatise introducing Western logic in China. First published in the final years of the Ming dynasty, the work was presented to Emperor Kangxi in 1683. Despite its sophisticated thought and innovation, the work failed to gain support among intellectuals and court officials. By analyzing the objectives of the Mingli Tan in tandem with its companion work, the Coimbra commentary, this paper explores some of the important philosophical, pedagogical, and historical reasons that can help to explain this failure. Through this historical failure, we can gain some insights about the nature of logic and its current position in China.
William James’s understanding of the concept of experience has much in common with ideas in Chinese traditional philosophy. This connection, however, has remained unexplored. Here we introduce the idea of ontological epistemology as a way to bring these important commonalities into view. By highlighting two features of the concept of experience in Chinese philosophy, we suggest that the perspectives of holism and relationism are common to both James and the Chinese tradition. With regard to the personal and impersonal characteristics of radical experience and its commensurability with Chinese philosophy, we will pay attention to the self-dissolving aspect of both. However, there are still some theoretical complexities that remain unresolved, which clearly show the possibility of further research in the comparative study of contemporary pragmatism and Chinese philosophy.
This paper analyzes the critique of Neo-Confucianism by the Japanese Jesuit Brother Fabian Fukansai (c. 1565–1621) in the Myōtei Dialogues (Myōtei Mondō 妙貞問答) (1605), as well as Fabian’s later critique of Christianity. It clarifies the author’s understanding of Neo-Confucian theory and his apology for Christianity by analyzing his explanation of the Great Ultimate (Tai’kyoku/Taiji 太極) and Principle (ri/li 理), which Fabian sees as nothing but an expression of Buddhist monistic mentalism. It also demonstrates that his explanations of the Great Ultimate and Principle have a crucial flaw: they do not sufficiently explain Zhu Xi’s metaphysics, which tried to make the immanent and transcendental characteristics of the Great Ultimate and Principle compatible. This is because Fabian addresses only the elements of “local” religions including Neo-Confucianism with novel keywords that support the framework of Christian Creationism and the Anima Rationalis theory. However, his later work Deus Destroyed (Ha Daius 破提宇子), written after he had rejected Christianity, overturned his former claim by accepting the Neo-Confucian concept of Principle. Fabian’s works are a historical example showing the potential limits of a confrontational approach toward other religions.
Matteo Ricci introduced into China the Western theory of soul, a term which he translated as linghun 靈魂. Afterwards, two other Italian Jesuits, Giulio Aleni and Francesco Sambiasi, separately completed two Chinese interpretations of the De Anima (On the Soul), the former privileging the word linghun, and the later, yanima 亞尼瑪, a transliteration for anima. Xia Dachang 夏大常 (Mathias Hsia) is probably the first Chinese person to write specifically on the topic of the soul. However, he used a different term, lingxing 靈性 (human spiritual nature), and also he titled his work “The Theory of Human Nature” (“Xingshuo” 性說). Xia’s work has received little scholarly attention, and this paper aims at investigating how he adopts the Western theory of the soul, why he still uses the concept of lingxing, and which Chinese editions of De Anima or other works written by the Jesuits had influenced him. We shall also see how Xia Dachang uses traditional Chinese sources and Catholic doctrine to support his viewpoint of human nature and how he criticizes theories of human nature within Chinese philosophy. This will enable us to comprehend how Chinese Christians in the Early Qing dynasty understood the theory of the soul and to reflect on the contemporary relevance of this theory in Chinese culture today.
It is now widely accepted that a mind that is saturated with bodily experience is necessary for the dual constitution of the self and the perceptual field, and that the deployment of perception is always associated with a double reafferent flow—a tactile flow and a proprioceptive flow. In this article, I will discuss this issue in a pragmatically orientated way (following John Dewey), with a possible rejoinder from the phenomenological tradition (specifically Merleau-Ponty). I make cross-references between the thought of Merleau-Ponty and of Dewey, and I believe that many insights can be drawn from such comparison. By bringing pragmatic insights into the phenomenological context, I will place Dewey’s pragmatic way of thinking about the embodied mind in a different light. However, different though they may seem, I will further argue that there is a deep sympathy between the phenomenological and pragmatic perspectives of these two thinkers, especially when we take Dewey’s existential ontology into consideration.
The famous diagonal argument plays a prominent role in set theory as well as in the proof of undecidability results in computability theory and incompleteness results in metamathematics. Lawvere (1969) brings to light the common schema among them through a pretty neat fixpoint theorem which generalizes the diagonal argument behind Cantor’s theorem and characterizes self-reference explicitly in category theory. Not until Yanofsky (2003) rephrases Lawvere’s fixpoint theorem using sets and functions, Lawvere’s work has been overlooked by logicians. This paper will continue Yanofsky’s work, and show more applications of Lawvere’s fixpoint theorem to demonstrate the ubiquity of the theorem. For example, this paper will use it to construct uncomputable real number, unnameable real number, partial recursive but not potentially recursive function, Berry paradox, and fast growing Busy Beaver function. Many interesting lambda fixpoint combinators can also be fitted into this schema. Both Curry’s Y combinator and Turing’s Θ combinator follow from Lawvere’s theorem, as well as their call-by-value versions. At last, it can be shown that the lambda calculus version of the fixpoint lemma also fits Lawvere’s schema.
The situationist challenge to virtue has convinced many philosophers to adopt an empirically grounded methodology. I argue that this methodology requires us to reconsider conceptualizations of and evidence on character from experiments involving Asian subjects because it is precisely in these experiments that we see a remedy for the problems exposed by situationism. Since both situationists and defenders of virtue fall short of abiding by the part of their methodological commitment associated with remediation, evidence from the experiments is relevant for most participants in the debate. I show that the evidence indicates something important about remediation: the point is not to avoid the concept of virtue or character, but to deploy a holistic thinking style that has been observed among some populations in Asia. Holistic thinking involves (a) a tendency to explain behavior in terms of the interaction between person and situation variables and (b) an incremental understanding of character. The paper ends with a brief sketch of an account of character from holistic thinking that also highlights the role of social support in managing situations.
This paper sets forth the reasons why Nietzsche thought nihilism to be inevitable from the perspective of the tenacity of the intentional. Through distinguishing two ordered intentional states—first-order and high-order—and two kinds of objects respectively, the paper illustrates that it is impossible to find a new ultimate value to replace Christian values when Nietzsche announced “the death of God.” Inspired by Nietzsche’s thoughts, the paper concludes by briefly discussing the possibility of comparing Confucian and Nietzsche’s ideas concerning nihilism.
The article aims to discuss the theme of Adorno’s non-identical moral philosophy, particularly the primacy of individual life over moral laws, as based mainly on his key works like Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, On Subject and Object, Problems of Moral Philosophy, and Negative Dialectics. The claim here is that the primacy of individual life is made through negative dialectics (“non-idealist dialectics”) dealing with the antithesis between object and subject, particular and universal, individual and society under the theoretical horizon of non-identical philosophy. Meanwhile, as a private ethics, this non-identical moral philosophy based on individual life stands as a kind of negativism, which is focused on negative guidance towards the possibility of right life.
Instead of denouncing sincere Christianity, as it is often assumed, Nietzsche inveighs vehemently against insincere Christianity that interpreters take as evidence for his nihilism. This essay argues that Nietzsche’s perspectivism affirms the positive value of Christian morality as an instrument for life preservation, which is a relative standard for judging various perspectives on life. It also analyzes the negative value of Christian morality as the impediment to life enhancement, which is the absolute standard for evaluating those perspectives. As this study finally argues, it remains to the Overman to once and for all overcome the impediments to life brought on by Christian morality in the creation of a new morality, if in fact what the Overman creates is indeed a new morality.