Frontiers of Philosophy in China

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The Principle of Production and a Critique of Metaphysics: From the Perspective of Theory of Baudrillard Contractual Approach Based on Rawls’ Device of the “Original Position”
XIA Ying
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 181-193.

Abstract   PDF (248KB)

In this article, I discuss Baudrillard’s critique of metaphysics based on his work The Mirror of Production, in which he stresses the principle of production—i.e., dichotomy and derivation. In the development of classical German philosophy, the principle of production was speculatively established, first as Descartes’ cogito, then as Fichte’s Tathandlung, and finally as Hegel’s labor, and grew to be a major principle of modern metaphysics. At the article’s conclusion, the meaning of Symbolic Exchange—Baudrillard’s utopian condition lying beyond the principle of production—will be discussed.

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The Embrace of Radical Philosophical Emptiness as a Liberating Conceptualization of Thought in Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard
Gerry Coulter
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 194-212.

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Among the challenges of poststructuralist thought has been the demand that we acknowledge a kind of philosophical emptiness which many feel accompanies the perceived decline in foundationalist thought. By looking more closely at Barthes and Baudrillard’s writing on meaning, writing, language, truth, and the real, we can come to a better understanding of the emergence and implications of the poststructural challenge. The paper argues that Barthes’ and Baudrillard’s writing on these five key concepts can lead us to a more liberating conception of thought and contribute to our individual effort to become more challenging thinkers. This paper also (unavoidably) points to several points of convergence and divergence between Barthes and Baudrillard.

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“I Effaced Myself” and “The Disappearance of the Subject”: A Comparison between Zhuangzi and Jean Baudrillard’s Anti-Subjectivism
LIU Xiang
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 213-228.

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In the chapter “The Adjustment of Controversies” in his eponymous work, Zhuangzi has the character Nanguo Ziqi declare “I effaced myself,” thereby holding that one can return to the state of naturalness only after breaking with the “self” that is in opposition to “objects,” abandoning his subject-object standpoint and entering a state of “effacement” wherein one fuses with the Dao. Coincidently, the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard also repeatedly stresses the “disappearance of the subject” in his later philosophy, trying to dissolve subject-centrism by means of a counterattack by the object wherein its logic would entrap the subject. Although they lived in different times, both Zhuangzi and Baudrillard note the same human predicament—the situation wherein the “I as subject” constantly obscures the “real I.” Their resolutions of the predicament are similar: both put their hopes in the dissolution of the “I” or self in subject-object relations, with Zhuangzi declaring “I effaced myself” and Baudrillard mooting the “disappearance of the subject.” They differ, however, on how to dissolve the “I” (myself). Briefly, Zhuangzi advocates “effacing myself through the Dao,” that is, quitting one’s “fixed mindset” and “egoism” and returning to the Dao by means of “forgetting” or “effacing”; Baudrillard, on the other hand, proposes to “efface oneself through the object,” i.e., replace the supremacy of the subject with that of the object. Baudrillard’s theory has often been criticized as pataphysics because of its nihilism without transcendence; in contrast, Zhuangzi’s view, which construes the whole world as the unfolding of the Dao, seems more thought-provoking.

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Aristotle, the Intellect, and Cognition
Thomas M. Robinson
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 229-240.

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It is argued in this paper that the famous “Active Intellect” of De Anima 3.5 is not God, as Alexander of Aphrodisias held, but rather an unchanging, eternally cognizing Intellect which serves as the indispensable condition for the operation of human intellect. It is “at the door” for each individual, ready to flow in as a stream of light—a light which renders potential objects of cognition knowable, just as visible light makes potentially visible objects visible—from outside that door (thyrathen) any time it is opened. Its existence cannot serve, however, as a proof of the immortality of human intellect, since, being unchanging, it can never possess a feature of human intellect which is characterized by nothing if not change, and that is memory.

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Edmund Husserl’s Political Praxis and Theoretical Reflections during World War I
NI Liangkang
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 241-253.

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Husserl the philosopher personally experienced World War I breaking out 100 years ago. Like most German and Austrian commoners, at the initial stage of the war, Husserl was extremely passionate for it. After undergoing the cruelty of war and losing many relatives and friends, he was once enmeshed in extreme confusion and disappointment, albeit he still made every effort to offer spiritual and ethical support to the soldiers at the front. Along with the proceeding of the war, he soon changed his views with respect to this war and confessed that more and deeper reflections were needed to address issues about problems of nationality, super-national ethics and about problems of wars relevant to them. He made philosophical theoretical reflections with regard to this war after it ended, and presented, eventually, requirements for himself: to be satisfied with taking the possibility of the practical activities of philosophy as the topic of philosophical theoretical study and to give up, in drastic fashion, the intention in such philosophical practices as providing political proposals and exerting political influences, “living purely as a scientific philosopher.”

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A Philosophical Analysis of the Concept of Crisis
WANG Tangjia
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 254-267.

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In our times, philosophy has been suffering from a spiritual crisis that takes the forms of the crisis of culture, the crisis of meaning, and the crisis of way of life. As the soul of culture, philosophy should contribute valuable responses to the problems of our times. Thus understood, this paper intends to analyze the concept of crisis in a phenomenological approach. The concept of crisis is concerned with the philosophical themes of time and death, and the crises of our times are primarily the crises of life-meaning and the life-world. Drawing sources from Husserl and other phenomenologists, as well as experiences from Chinese culture, I argue that a philosophy of crisis should find its point of departure from the crisis of philosophy.

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The Semantic Function of Descriptions Associated with Proper Names: Comments on Kripke’s Criticism of Searle
GUO Peng
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 268-279.

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The aim of this paper is to defend Searle’s view on the semantic role that descriptions associated with proper names play in real contexts. Through an analysis of Kripke’s critique of Searle’s views, I reach the conclusion that Kripke;s criticism is based upon a misinterpretation of Searle’s ideas. Searle tried to answer the question “what is the object named as such?” That is different from the question that Kripke attributed to the descriptivists, i.e. “what are the necessary criteria to identify the referent of a name in every possible world?” I think Searle’s question is also a question that Kripke’s Causal Theory of Names has to answer, i.e. how a name transmits through a linguistic community.

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The Embodied Subjective Perspective
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 280-300.

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Perspective is a distinctive feature of external perception. There is a question of how to account for perceptual constancy in spite of changing perspectives. Alva No? proposes the notion of “perspectival property” [P-property] and appeals to the perspectival aspect of perceptual content. His proposal conflicts with perceptual experiences and hence incurs many criticisms. Drawing on Husserl’s phenomenology and Gibsonian psychology, I propose the notion of “perspectival awareness” [P-awareness]. I will argue that P-awareness is embodied pre-thematic self-awareness instead of the experience of a special kind of objective property. With the notion of P-awareness in mind, I then elaborate on the embodied subjective feature of perspective.

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Memory, Rite, and Tradition: A Comparative Confucian-Christian Literary Analysis
Christopher David Hancock
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 301-317.

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I The Confucian Classics and Christian Scriptures speak often about the role “the past” plays in shaping individual and communal character, life, perception, morality and purpose. In both Christianity and classical Confucianism, memory, rite and tradition are each accorded a central place in preserving and interpreting the past as a dynamic force in the present. The first part of this paper studies points of thematic similarity in Christian and Confucian interpretation of memory, rite and tradition. In the second part of the paper, however, critical points of divergence are addressed; for behind the formal similarities lie deeper intellectual, relational and moral differences in understanding the nature and function of “the past” in determining both the present and the future. Comparative literary analysis provides a rich resource for contemporary application of the Confucian Classics and Christian Scriptures to discussion of cultural memory and global harmony. The comparative reading of ‘texts’ also provides an important point of access for understanding the role literature itself plays in determining the form, content and power of memory, ritual and tradition in both Confucianism and Christianity.

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Confucian Ethical Practice as a Method of Creating and Sustaining Whiteheadian Beauty
Jung-Yeup Kim
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 318-328.

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I argue that Confucian ethical practice can be considered as a feasible method of creating and sustaining Whiteheadian beauty. I first investigate Whitehead’s understanding of value, beauty and morality. Next, I show the affinity between Confucius and Whitehead in their understanding of value, beauty, and morality through an analysis of the Analects (Lunyu 论语), focusing on the aesthetic aspects of Confucian ethics understood as role ethics. Finally, I argue that Confucian ways of moral self-cultivation can be viewed as methods that foster our disposition to create and sustain the beauty of experience.

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Huang Yong, Ethics in a Global Age
ZHANG Jingjie
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (2): 329-332.

Abstract   PDF (171KB)
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13 articles