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One and Many

A Comparative Study of Plato's Philosophy and Daoism Represented by Ge Hong

Ji Zhang

Publication Year: 2012

Is the world one or many? Ji Zhang revisits this ancient philosophical question from the modern perspective of comparative studies. His investigation stages an intellectual exchange between Plato, founder of the Academy, and Ge Hong, who systematized Daoist belief and praxis. Zhang not only captures the tension between rational Platonism and abstruse Daoism, but also creates a bridge between the two.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

List of Figures

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pp. ix-xii

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Introduction "One and Many"; as an Ontological Problem

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pp. xiii-xxiv

Why does this book compare Ge Hong (AD 284-344?) with Plato (428- 347 BC)?1 Reasons of personal intellectual history are involved. When I encountered Platonism in the field of Christian systematic theology, I admired its persistent search for inner coherence of truths and was deeply impressed by its transcendentalism...

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Part One. Textual Studies

Ge Hong's religious philosophy is a converging point of three intellectual streams. First, from the early philosophical stream derived from Laozi and Zhuangzi, Ge Hong inherited cosmogony as the general worldview. He then reinterpreted the cosmogony...

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Chapter 1. Ge Hong's Doctrine of Xuan Dao

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pp. 1-31

The Inner Chapters of the Baopuzi, which adopts Ge Hong's pseudonym the Master Embracing Simplicity, opens with the chapter on the doctrine of Xuan Dao...

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Chapter 2. Plato's Answer to the Pre-Socratic Debate

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pp. 32-52

The study of Plato has many starting points. I start from the book of Parmenides because of its obvious discussion of the one and the many. Having said this, one cannot ignore the current Plato scholarship on the subject. Yet reading Plato and reading someone else's readings...

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Chapter 3. Ge Hong';s Preservation of the One

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pp. 53-78

Having traced the development of the OM debate from the pre-Socratics to Plato, we must now come to terms with Daoist epistemology. Strictly speaking, epistemology is not the right term for Daoism because it suggests the cognitive knowing of things that are rationally worthy of belief. Unlike Plato's abstract reasoning...

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Chapter 4. Plato's Doctrine of Forms

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pp. 79-90

In Chapter 2 I investigated historical connections between Plato and the pre-Socratics through the study of the Parmenides. Parmenides' ontological tradition of Being, answered the question of the one and the many with the theory of Forms and exposed before the Eleatic school one of the key problems of the theory, namely, the separation of Forms from sensibles...

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Chapter 5. Two Forms of Enlightenment

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pp. 91-103

At the end of the Simile of the Sun, Plato says: "What gives the objects of knowledge their truth and the knower's mind the power of knowing is the form of the good (508e)...The good therefore may be said to be the source not only of the intelligibility of the objects of knowledge, but also of their being and reality; yet it is not...

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Chapter 6. Ge Hong';s Doctrine of Immortal Beings

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pp. 104-142

During the Western Han (202 BC-AD 9), a dynasty before Ge Hong, there was a widespread belief in the existence of immortals. Archaeological evidence discovered over the last few decades has revealed a belief in immortality expressed in art and iconography...

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Part Two. Comparative Ontology

Why is not-being denied ontological properties? And why is being the starting point of ontology? The following three chapters on comparative ontology proceed from such basic questions....

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Chapter 7. Nothing

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pp. 145-182

The OM problem is ontological. The problem is located at the heart of knowledge and has to do with the philosophy of what primary reality is (or what primary realities are).Any presupposed ontological reality (or realities) must answer one central question: how does the changing world, both whole and parts, either rise out...

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Chapter 8. The One

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pp. 183-237

"Dao begins with the One, and its prestige is its uniqueness. Qi occupies each of the categories...

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Chapter 9. The Many

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pp. 238-314

This chapter is situated against the background of two distinct natural philosophies: Ge Hong's alchemical universe and Plato's geometrical world. The comparative study is textually based. It starts with my critique of the "alchemy as chemistry" thesis in Daoist studies...

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Conclusion Comparative Methodology

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pp. 315-326

I mentioned in the introduction that I would not treat methodology as a precondition of this comparative study, but as a conclusion of it. Now, at the end of this study, I still maintain the proposition, but something has changed. The becoming has reshaped the being...

Notes

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pp. 327-346

Bibliography

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pp. 347-356

Index

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pp. 357-368


E-ISBN-13: 9780824861186
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824835545

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy Monographs