The Cartesian conception of the self is of an essentially thinking thing, a robust “I,” one that wills, feels, et cetera. This Cartesian self is often taken as opposed to the Buddhist conception of the self, which includes the doctrine of anatta, or “no soul.” The Cartesian robust “I” is open to a criticism that, as opposed to one essential thinking thing, there actually exists a group of things being held together somehow, which constitutes the “I.” This criticism is closely related to the Humean conception of the self as a bundle of perceptions and the Buddhist conception of the self as being made up of the five skandhas. However, there remains, even after the Humean and Buddhist critique, what I call the “Cartesian Intuition.” This is simply the idea that if there is action taking place, there must be something performing the action. I argue that while the Humean conception violates this Cartesian Intuition, the Buddhist conception maintains it. Thus, while the Cartesian and Buddhist views of the self are usually seen as inconsistent, there is a very important sense in which they are compatible: they both maintain the Cartesian Intuition.
Isolation and Involvement: Wilhelm von Humboldt, François Jullien, and More
Christian Helmut Wenzel, 458
This is an essay about language, thought, and culture in general, and about Ancient Greek and Classical Chinese in particular. It is about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and about comparative philosophy, as well as a contribution to the history of ideas. From the language side, it relies on the nineteenth-century German linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, and from the culture side on the contemporary French sinologist François Jullien. Combining their ideas, substance is given to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and some of Jullien’s claims about the historical and political development of Chinese culture are explained. The central claim here is that a certain lack of morphology (a lack of what may be called an abstract and universal “systematic scheme of variation”) in the Chinese language invites the user to pay more attention to contexts and be more perceptive of, and open to, change and transformation. A further claim made here is that this leads to more involvement in the world but at the same time demands distance and detour. Toward the end there is a reflection on problems of autonomy and personal identity, self-understanding, politics, and our relation to the world around us.
This essay argues that if Confucian familism, which has been blamed as the single greatest obstacle to achieving a civil society, is creatively repossessed, the potential looks very promising for constructing a Confucian civil society that is qualitatively different from a liberal civil society predicated on moral individualism, and for underpinning its unique mode of civility (“sociability”) and citizenship (“strangership”). This essay first shows that the intrinsic value of the Confucian family consists in “filial and fraternal responsibility” (xiaodi 孝悌), then contends that a Confucian self-cultivation (xiushen 修身) that involves a double transformation of individuality and relationality (due to the very nature of the Confucian self being a relational self) engenders a responsible moral agent that is at once filial and civil. It concludes by proposing “relational strangership” as the backbone of a Confucian civil society.
Thinking on the Edge: Heidegger, Derrida, and the Daoist Gateway (Men 門)
Steven Burik, 499
Many philosophical interpretations of the Daoist classics have proceeded, or continue to proceed, to read into these works the quest for a transcendental, foundational principle, a permanent moment of rest beyond the turmoil of ever-changing things. The metaphysics that may be understood to be at work in such interpretations is what Heidegger and Derrida have called philosophy as onto-theology. It is argued here that Heidegger, Derrida, and the classical Daoists are better understood not so much as metaphysical and essentialist thinkers but as advocates of a profoundly inner-worldly way of thinking. In arguing for such a different approach, the focus here is on the situational character of Daoism, showing how taking a non-metaphysical approach will help make clear that Daoism is concerned with the interrelatedness of all things, and thus also of humans with these things. In doing so, the focus is specifically on the “gateway” (men 門) character, and comparisons are drawn with Heidegger and Derrida. It is argued that when considered closely, the use of this “gateway” character, especially in the Daodejing, but also in the Zhuangzi and the Yuandao, does not point to a transcendent or transcendental dao beyond the “gateway,” but to an inner-worldly dao understood as defining regularity within a process world.
Is Space Created? Reflections on Śaṇkara’s Philosophy and Philosophy of Physics
Jonathan Duquette and K. Ramasubramanian, 517
Here the concept of “space” is discussed from two different streams of thought: (1) the view held by Advaita Vedānta, as expounded by Śaṇkara, and (2) the view that emerges from the ongoing debates in modern philosophy of physics. The emphasis is on addressing the following question: is space created or not? To set the necessary backdrop for a better appreciation of the debate that evolved within the Indian tradition, we first examine how the Vaiśeṣika and Sāṃkhya schools of thought unfold the concept of ākāśa in relation to their metaphysics. We then carefully analyze a section of Śaṇkara’s Brahmasūtrabhāṣya (BSB II.3.1–7), wherein the creation of ākāśa is discussed at great length. The second part of this essay attempts to highlight the ongoing struggle among physicists to arrive at an understanding of the nature and origin of space, with reference to the general theory of relativity and quantum field theory. It ends with a critical reflection on parallels and differences that come forth from the study of Advaita Vedānta and modern physics.
COMMENT AND DISCUSSION
Pramāṇa Are Factive—A Response to Jonardon Ganeri
Matthew Dasti and Stephen H. Phillips, 535
Rumi: Teachings, edited by Sayed Gahreman Safavi
Reviewed by James Bockmier, 551
Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy, by Bryan W. Van Norden
Reviewed by Alexus McLeod, 554
Ethics in the Mahabharata: A Philosophical Inquiry for Today, by Sitansu Chakravarti
Reviewed by Julius Lipner, 557
The Linji Lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy, by Albert Welter
Reviewed by Dirck Vorenkamp, 558
Nietzsche, Buddha, Zarathustra: Eine West-Ost Konfiguration, by Michael Skowron
Reviewed by Gereon Kopf, 560