SPECIAL ISSUE: EIGHTH EAST-WEST PHILOSOPHERS’ CONFERENCE
The Eighth East-West Philosophers’ Conference, “Technology and Cultural Values: On the Edge of the Third Millennium”
Marietta Stepaniants and Roger T. Ames, 301
Buddhism and Techno-Physicalism: Is the Eightfold Path a Program?
Mark Siderits, 307
Recent developments in technology and material culture suggest that physicalism may come to be accepted as the commonsense view of the constitution of persons. Like many other spiritual practices, Buddhism has traditionally relied on a dualist understanding of human nature, according to which persons are made up of both physical and nonphysical entities and events. Would anything central to the Buddhist project be lost if that were replaced by physicalism? Clearly the Yogācāra doctrine of consciousness-only would be undermined. But it is claimed that apart from this there is little that is crucial to Buddhism that would be threatened by the development of a thoroughly physicalist culture.
At first, the disciplined, proper, and moralistic Confucian might seem a far cry from the free, independent, and spontaneous individual of liberalism. However, Confucian self-discipline and ritual propriety are quite suitable for a democratic society. Liberal political theories privilege individual freedom, but there is little in them that deals with concrete ways in which this freedom can be exercised. Confucian theories of self-discipline and ritual propriety can fill this gap in liberal theory. Michel Foucault’s investigations of Ancient Greek and Roman technologies of the self show that self-cultivation, self discipline, and ritual conduct are indispensable for the proper practice of freedom. Thus, Foucault provides us with a new perspective from which to investigate and affirm the democratic potential of Confucianism.
Current formal mathematics, being divorced from the empirical, is entirely a social construct, so that mathematical theorems are no more secure than the cultural belief in two-valued logic, incorrectly regarded as universal. Com puter technology, by enhancing the ability to calculate, has put pressure on this social construct, since proof-oriented formal mathematics is awkward for computation, while computational mathematics is regarded as epistemo logically insecure. Historically, a similar epistemological fissure between computational/practical Indian mathematics and formal/spiritual Western mathematics persisted for centuries, during a dialogue of civilizations, when texts on “algorismus” and “infinitesimal” calculus were imported into Europe, enhancing the ability to calculate. It is argued here that this epis temological tension should be resolved by accepting mathematics as empiri cally based and fallible, and by revising accordingly the mathematics syllabus outlined by Plato.
Dao, Technology, and American Naturalism
Joseph Grange, 363
Technology can be based on aesthetic sensibility rather than becoming just one more aggressive assault on nature. Resources for such an alteration of cultural consciousness can be found within the Daoist understanding of nature as unceasing birth, death, and rebirth. The articulation of such a perspective can use the tools developed within the tradition of American Naturalism. Dewey and Peirce, in particular, offer ways of establishing a community of inquiry based on such a sensibility.
Contemporary consciousness studies, where it is not explicitly religious, is mostly physicalist. Theories of self and consciousness in classical Hindu thought can easily be seen to contribute to religious issues in consciousness studies. But it is also the case that there is much in that that can be useful within broadly physicalist parameters of study as well. The Mīmāmsã and Nyāya schools, while having (nonphysicalist) soteriological goals for the metaphysical self, nonetheless provide theories of its relationship with consciousness that allow for interpretative strategies that can make their theories relevant to a broadly physicalist study of consciousness. Advaita Vedānta cannot be so interpreted, but its inquiry into the nature of consciousness can provide material for a fundamental critique of the project of objectifying consciousness.
COMMENT AND DISCUSSION
Is There Such a Thing as Chinese Philosophy? Arguments of an Implicit Debate
Carine Defoort, 393
The question of whether or not there is such a thing as “Chinese philosophy” is seldom explicitly raised, but the implicit answers to this question—although different in China and the West—dominate institutional and academic decisions. This article not only constructs a typology to recognize, differentiate, and evaluate various answers to this question, but it also takes the sensitivity of this matter seriously by comparing it with one’s attachment to something as sensitive, arbitrary, and meaningless as a family name.
Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age, by Peter D. Hershock
Reviewed by Michael G. Barnhart, 414
Semantic Powers: Meaning and the Means of Knowing in Classical Indian Philosophy, by Jonardon Ganeri
Reviewed by Harold Coward, 419
Dimensions of the Sacred: An Anatomy of the World’s Beliefs, by Ninian Smart
Reviewed by Robert Cummings Neville, 420
Community, Violence, and Peace: Aldo Leopold, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gautama the Buddha in the Twenty-first Century, by A. L. Herman
Reviewed by Vasanthi Srinivasan, 425
The Sage and the Second Sex: Confucianism, Ethics, and Gender, edited by Chenyang Li
Reviewed by Li-Hsiang (Lisa) Lee, 429
Virtue, Nature, and Moral Agency in the Xunzi, edited by T. C. Kline III and Philip J. Ivanhoe
Reviewed by Kurtis Hagen, 434