Philosophy East and West, vol. 65, no. 1 (2015)


War as a Problem of Knowledge: Theory of Knowledge in China’s Military Philosophy
Barry Allen, 1

A singularity of the famous Art of War (孫子兵法) attributed to Sunzi is the way this work conceives of knowledge as a resource for the military strategist. The idea is new in Chinese tradition, and new in the worldwide context of thinking about strategy, where Sunzi’s ideas about the value of knowledge are far in advance of the thinking of Western theorists like Machiavelli or especially Clausewitz. The role of knowledge in the Sunzi theory of strategy and the consistency of what this work says about knowledge with a philosophical idea of knowledge that emerges in Warring States texts of diverse genres are analyzed here.

Schopenhauer on Idealism, Indian and European
Christopher Ryan, 18

This article is an examination of Schopenhauer’s evaluation of the comparative philosophical merits of modern European and ancient Indian idealism. Schopenhauer was an enthusiastic advocate of Indian wisdom, but it is rarely noted that he excluded it from the history of philosophy proper. Although he traced the origin of the “fundamental” point of view of idealism to the ancient ṛṣis of India, he also maintained that it had not received its proper philosophical articulation and defense until Kant. But when we probe beyond Schopenhauer’s effusive estimations of Kant’s achievements and seek out his conception of idealism’s epistemological and logical bases, they appear rather flimsy and insubstantial. It turns out that Schopenhauer thought that idealism originated in and is validated by a rare state of mind to which he gave the name “philosophical discernment” (philosophische Besonnenheit), a prerational and intuitive condition that conceptual proofs merely justify after the event. Schopenhauer’s emphasis on the primacy of intuition and discernment over reflective reason tends to undermine his official account of the philosophical attributes of post-Kantian idealism, while a comparison of his historical surveys on the cultural status of idealism in India and Europe, respectively, suggests that the former was the healthier and more durable species.

Political Theory in Canonical Buddhism
Matthew J. Moore, 36

This article examines the canonical texts of early Buddhism and canvasses recent scholarly literature to explore whether early Buddhism contains a political theory, and if so, what it is. The article concludes that the early texts do express a normative preference for enlightened monarchy as the best form of lay government. However, it also concludes that early Buddhism saw politics as being relatively unimportant among human concerns. Further, it argues that this theory of politics should be of interest to political theorists today due to three unusual elements: its deflationary estimate of the importance of politics, its denial of the existence of the self, and its naturalistic theory of ethics

Transcendence, Freedom, and Ethics in Lévinas’ Subjectivity and Zhuangzi’s Non-being Self
Guoping Zhao, 65

Lévinas’ claim of ethics as the first philosophy has been compared to the Confucian project. While the similarity between Lévinas and the Confucians in their central concern for ethics is apparent, I argue in this essay that the Daoists may have a deeper resonance with Lévinas. With the inspiration of Lévinas’ insights into sense and meaning, I investigate how Lévinas’ subjectivity and the Daoist, in particular the Zhuangzian, notion of the non-being self draw on the same primordial experiential base that has given rise to an understanding of our self that leads to an embodied transcendence. In the context of battling the modern Western autonomous and egoistic self, which has caused much damage in modern history, I explore whether an appreciation of the pre-ego, pre-reflective experiences upon which Lévinas and Zhuangzi build their subjectivity and non-being self can lead us to ethics and spirituality, with a new understanding of human freedom that is radically different from the modern notion of freedom as autonomy.

A Genealogical Study of De: Poetical Correspondence of Sky, Earth, and Humankind in the Early Chinese Virtuous Rule of Benefaction
Huaiyu Wang 王懷聿, 81

By identifying the basic meanings of de as “spiritual endowment” and “grateful offering,” this treatise aims to clarify the original meanings and structure of de and to establish the early Chinese moral and political order based on dezhi as the virtuous rule of benefaction. A critical reexamination of the influential mana thesis will lay bare the spiritual power of de as the sympathetic correspondence (gantong 感通) of cosmic forces of yin and yang. As a principle of genus, de stands for the grounding spiritual power nurturing the growth of human communities in empathetic and reciprocal harmony with the cyclical rhythm of cosmic forces. The true foundation of the early Chinese rule of benefaction consists precisely in such senses of empathy and reciprocity originating in the poetical correspondence of sky, earth, and humankind. The investigation of de here shall reveal a distinctively Chinese understanding of human person that is based not on the philosophy of entitlement but on the poetical way of embodiment. As a distinctive site of embodiment, the primary function of a Confucian political leader is not to uphold the consigned spiritual power with exclusive authority, but to promote its proper dissemination for the harmonious coalescence of all kinds of beings. I shall argue further that such sagacious personalities should be regarded as the archetype and origin of early Chinese and Confucian moral virtues.

Dignāga on Reflexive Awareness
Paul Bernier, 125

The purpose of this essay is to present and defend an interpretation of some central views of Dignāga, an important Indian Buddhist philosopher of the fifth century c.e ., on the theory of reflexive awareness (svasaṃvedana), or RA. According to RA, a conscious cognition, for instance a conscious visual experience, is directed not only at an object (or content), but also at itself. The Dignāgian view of reflexive awareness rests crucially on the so-called memory argument. An interpretation of this argument is proposed here, and three ways one could try to resist it are underscored. These objections rest, broadly, on three alternative ways of understanding the scenario of the memory argument. It is claimed that these alternative interpretations are faced with serious problems and, thus, that they fail to refute the memory argument. It is concluded that RA offers an adequate account of the nature of consciousness and self-knowledge, that is, how we know our own minds. Moreover, while Dignāga’s general philosophical views are typically understood as endorsing a kind of epistemological idealism, namely Yogācāra idealism, I point out that the interpretation of RA I propose is independent of such an idealist epistemology.

Aurelius Augustinus and Seng Zhao on ‘Time’: An Interpretation of the Confessions and the Zhao Lun
Man Li, Bart Dessein, 157

The question whether humans are the creators of their own lives within an either finite or infinite but nonetheless independently existing ‘time’ or whether the creative force of one’s life is restrained by a ‘time’ that is an inalienable part of this very life has permeated the entire philosophical and religious history of humankind. This article addresses Saint Augustine’s interpretation of time as developed in his Confessions and the interpretation given by his contemporary Buddhist counterpart Seng Zhao in the Zhao lun. It is argued that both Augustinus and Seng Zhao reinterpreted, albeit in a different way, a similar inherited cyclical time concept. Augustinus changed the cyclical time concept for a linear one, and he interprets ‘time’ as an objective reality for God, who created time together with heaven and earth, and as a subjective reality for humans: for humans, time can, by the pondering mind, only be regarded as ‘the protraction of the mind.’ Also, in Buddhist philosophy time has an objective reality, the cyclical mechanical process of karmic retribution, as well as a subjective reality: an individual has the power to stop this mechanical process, and, in this way, stop ‘time.’ The article shows how Seng Zhao develops the Madhyamaka concept of voidness, and goes beyond a mere objective-subjective dichotomy.

The Geography of Styles of Reasoning: East and West, North and South
Michael John Paton, 178

Hacking’s (1985) concept of ‘styles of reasoning’ has prompted research into a multitude of markedly different areas, including: learning and teaching of science (Hawkins and Pea 1987), the history and philosophy of the use of case studies (Forrester 1996), epistemic differences in German and American embryology (Maienschein 1991), the relationship between philosophy and history of science (Radder 1997), and more recently even the relationship between sexuality, translation, and East Asian studies (Chiang 2009). This article attempts to add to this discourse by considering the concept of ‘styles of reasoning’ from the perspective of history of science and geography in China. First, it discusses observation and correlative thinking in the traditional Chinese science of dili (principles of the earth) and fengshui (wind and water), focusing on the meaning and difficulty of the translation of the concept shi, ‘configurational force,’ which embodied an astute early qualitative understanding of gravity and its relationship to fertility. Seminal texts from various dynasties considered in this discussion include the Book of Burial, Classic of Burial, Yellow Emperor’s Classic of House Siting, Arousing the Dragon Classic, Twenty Four Difficult Problems, and Water Dragon Classic. The article then argues that this different ‘style of reasoning’ displayed in the discipline of dili became blurred in Western scientific styles of reasoning to become dilixue (geography). A journal article on the history of the development of the concept of ‘mountain veins’ in traditional Chinese science by a member of the Chinese Geological Survey, Weng Wenhao (1925), is indicative of this melding of Eastern and Western styles of reasoning. It is posited that even with the strength of China’s early scientific foundations, the acceptance in China of Western scientific reasoning was markedly accelerated due to the environmental history of China (Elvin 2004). The environmental history of China over three thousand years is then compared to that of Australia over the past two hundred years using the traditional dili construct to argue that northern hemisphere peoples coming to the south have had to modify their styles of reasoning to perceive the ritualizations of knowledge inherent in northern knowledge systems, based on the generally more fertile geographies of the power bases of the north. It is argued that accepted ‘universal’ theoretical stances such as the market approach advocated by Hayek (1980 and 1976) have more of a geographic basis than is realized and that continuing to follow the ‘logic of short term advantage’ (Elvin 2004) and the ‘ethics of chance’ (Paton 2009) that have become major catalysts to present day market-based systems could have a very negative effect on the survival of the human species over the long term.

Lots of Pleasure but Little Happiness
Michael Nylan, 196

This essay makes several related claims: (a) that most of the extant texts from early China sharply distinguish le 樂 (secure “pleasure” derived from relational activities in which a repeated investment of time, energy, and imagination generally pays off) from xi 喜 (short-term “delight” in objects, things, and people); (b) that, quite significantly, the antonym for “pleasure” is not “pain” but “insecurity,” which invites a thorough rethinking of a host of Western presumptions and categories; (c) that no word in classical Chinese precisely corresponds to the Anglo-American words “happiness” and “joy,” since “happiness” to no small degree retains its old idea of “favored by fortune,” and “joy” that of disembodied religious ecstasy; (d) that the physiology of pleasure in early China depends far more on resonance theories than on more mechanical constructions of cause-and-effect, and for that reason does not favor asceticism or “purity”; and (e) that the early texts evince little interest in the “isought” question, with the grammatical structures of most of their propositions indicating situational claims rather than universalized abstractions.

Taking the Intentionality of Perception Seriously: Why Phenomenology is Inescapable
Christian Coseru, 227

Recent attempts to bridge Buddhist and Western philosophical accounts of perception and consciousness have been prompted in large measure by two sets of arguments: on the one hand those that set out to defend a conceptualist view of perception, and on the other those that take perception to have a self-intimating but non-conceptual aspect. This essay offers an innovative take on the conceptualist/non-conceptualist debate in the works of Dignāga, Dharmakīrti, and their followers by deriving insights from the phenomenology of perception. It argues that it is possible to conceive of the reflexivity of perceptual awareness (its self-intimating aspect) as intentionally structured without being at the same time transcendently constituted as a form of radical subjectivity.

On the Classification of Śāntideva’s Ethics in the Bodhicaryāvatāra
Stephen E. Harris, 249

In this essay several challenges are raised to the project of classifying Śāntideva’s ethical reasoning given in his Bodhicaryāvatāra, or Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva, as a species of ethical theory such as consequentialism or virtue ethics. One set of difficulties highlighted here arises because Śāntideva wrote this text to act as a manual of psychological transformation, and it is therefore often difficult to determine when his statements indicate his own ethical views. Further, even assuming we can identify a set of statements that accurately portray the moral position of Śāntideva, it is argued that these statements underdetermine which foundational normative theory should be ascribed to him.

Toward a Complementary Consciousness and Mutual Flourishing of Chinese and Western Cultures: The Contributions of Process Philosophers
Fan Meijun, Wang Zhihe, 276

“Complementary consciousness” takes binaries and transforms them into dynamic complements. Today this kind of consciousness has grown from a quiet stream to a mighty river in both China and the West. The streams that feed this river include generations of work by comparative literature scholars, philosophers, Sinologists, educators, anthropologists, psychologists, and theologians, as well as practical connections made by scientists and business people. Among scholars, process philosophers (constructive postmodern thinkers) have played a uniquely important role in promoting a complementary consciousness within Chinese and Western culture. This discussion explores ways that process philosophers and constructive postmodern thinkers have contributed to complementary consciousness by deconstructing Eurocentric prejudices, subverting exclusivist foundations, promoting cross-cultural dialogue, appreciating differences, appreciating the wisdom of traditional Chinese Culture, and encouraging possibilities for cross-cultural fertilization.

How Can We Cross the Intellectual Divide between East and West?: Reflections on Reading “Toward a Complementary Consciousness and Mutual Flourishing of Chinese and Western Cultures: The Contributions of Process Philosophers”
Ming Dong Gu, Jianping Guo, 298

Ming Dong Gu and Jianping Guo The essay by Fan Meijun and Wang Zhihe has sparked broad reflection by Ming Dong Gu and Jianping Guo in the form of a sustained response to the philosophical issues in the intellectual encounter between East and West. While agreeing with the thesis and major ideas of Fan and Wang, Gu and Guo offer a critique of some issues and continue to reflect on a series of questions relevant to the exchanges between Eastern and Western thought, which include: Is there an intellectual divide between East and West? What are the intellectual barriers to genuine dialogue? Do the intellectual barriers identified by Fan and Wang accurately mirror the real conditions of Eastern and Western thought? If they are true, have they formed a paradigm in East-West studies? If yes, what is the conceptual ground for the paradigm? Which is more responsible for the intellectual barriers, Western-centrism or Eastern-centrism? Besides Western process thought, is there any Eastern thought that can be appropriated to overcome the intellectual barriers? Gu and Guo’s reflections are summarized in a general question: under what conditions can East meet West in intellectual thought? Identifying some common ground in Eastern and Western thought, they reveal blind spots in current efforts to cross the East-West divide and examine some successful cases of East-West dialogue. Based on their meditations, they suggest new dimensions to the Second Enlightenment and call for transcultural intellectual empowerment for all cultural traditions.


The Italian Panikkar
Marcello Ghilardi, 316


Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China by Erica Fox Brindley
Reviewed by Pauline C. Lee, 326

The Triumph of Mercy: Philosophy and Scripture in Mullā Ṣadrā by Mohammed Rustom
Reviewed by Janis Eshots, 328

The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality by Hans-Georg Moeller
Reviewed by Wayne Alt, 331

Heidegger und das Ostasiatische Denken ed. by Alfred Denker etal.
Reviewed by Steven Burik, 341

Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice by Erin M. Cline
Reviewed by Sungmoon Kim, 344

Nothingness and Desire: An East-West Philosophical Antiphony by James W. Heisig
Reviewed by Oliver Thorne, 349

Philosophy on Bamboo: Text and the Production of Meaning in Early China by Dirk Meyer
Reviewed by Uffe Bergeton, 352

Gandhi and the Stoics: Modern Experiments on Ancient Values by Richard Sorabji
Reviewed by Bharani Kollipara, 354

A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects by Henry Rosemont, Jr, and: Confucius: A Guide for the Perplexed by Yong Huang
Reviewed by Alexus McLeod, 360

No Religion without Idolatry: Mendelssohn’s Jewish Enlightenment by Gideon Freudenthal, and: Moses Mendelssohns Sprachpolitik by Grit Schorch
Reviewed by Willi Goetschel, 364


Terrorism: A Philosophical Investigation by Igor Primoratz
Reviewed by Ian M. Sullivan, 369


One response to “Philosophy East and West, vol. 65, no. 1 (2015)

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