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Beyond Oneness and Difference

Li and Coherence in Chinese Buddhist Thought and Its Antecedents

Brook Ziporyn

Publication Year: 2013

Continues the author’s inquiry into the development of the Chinese philosophical concept Li, concluding in Song and Ming dynasty Neo-Confucianism.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xviii

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Introduction: Li 理 and Coherence: Recap of Ironies of Oneness and Difference and Terminological Clarifications

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pp. 1-20

In a previous work, called Ironies of Oneness and Difference, I tried to unravel the development of notions of coherence in early Chinese thought as an alternative to models of thinking, mainly Greek and European in origin, that build upon the assumption that words such as “same” and “different” describe facts about the world and refer to real attributes of things, that the...

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Chapter One: Li 理 as a Fundamental Category in Chinese Thought

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pp. 21-48

The term Li has a strange history. It came into prominence as the central metaphysical category rather gradually, seemingly through the intervention of Buddhist uses, taking on its decisive role only in the thought of the Cheng Brothers (Cheng Hao 程顥, 1032–1085, and Cheng Yi 程頤, 1033–1107), and further developed by Zhu Xi (朱熹, 1130–1200), read back into the...

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Chapter Two: The Advent of Li Ironic and Non-Ironic

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pp. 49-70

I have mentioned that Li is not yet a central philosophical category in the earliest texts from the formative years of the Chinese philosophical traditions. However, there are some relatively nontechnical but nonetheless telling uses of the term in those contexts, prior to its self‑conscious adoption as a specialized philosophical term, which it will be useful for us to consider. We will thus begin with those texts, with an eye specifically to the...

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Chapter Three: The Development of Li in Ironic Texts

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pp. 71-106

We have turned back to the earlier texts of the non‑ironic tradition to find the gradual emergence of the term Li, and its connection to the notion of coherence understood in the non‑ironic sense there, also tracing the development of the non‑ironic notion of Li a few steps forward in time. We now turn our eyes to Li in the late Warring States ironic texts. The...

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Chapter Four: The Advent of Li as a Technical Philosophical Term

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pp. 107-136

We have seen the gradual thickening of associations around the term Li, first in non‑ironic usage, as in the Xunzi, and then a parallel development among writers within the ironic tradition, using this term as an increasingly important token by which to formulate a response to the non‑ironic tradition and by which to incorporate some its elements into the universe of ironic...

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Chapter Five: Li as the Convergence of Coherence and Incoherence in Wang Bi and Guo Xiang

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pp. 137-184

Xuanxue 玄學, literally “dark” or “mysterious” learning, sometimes translated as “Neo‑Daoism” or even “Metaphysical Studies,” is the name traditionally given to the Post‑Han revival of speculative thought, taking its name from the renewed interest in reinterpreting the...

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Chapter Six: Beyond One and Many: Li in Tiantai and Huayan Buddhism

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pp. 185-260

I will be considering mainly the Huayan and Tiantai schools of Chinese Buddhism here, as the two most elaborately systematic and also most “sinitic” of the Chinese traditions of Buddhist doctrine, and also because it is here that the term Li is given its most distinctive, elaborate, and influential developments. Prior to the advent of these schools, Li had begun to be used...

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Chapter Seven: Mind, Omnipresence, and Coherence in Tiantai and Huayan

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pp. 261-306

We turn now to the treatment of mind in the two schools. For it is in the context of a dispute about the status of the mind, and its relation to Li, that the Tiantai doctrine of the “Three Thousand as Li, Three Thousand as event”...

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Conclusion: The Vertex of the Vortex

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pp. 307-320

In Ironies of Oneness and Difference, and again in the introduction to this book, I raised the several issues as a way of framing the problem of Li. We were looking for how the Chinese traditions handled the questions of repeatability, set membership, apodictic knowledge, part and whole relations,...

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Epilogue: Toward Li in Neo-Confucianism

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pp. 321-344

This is not the place to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the Neo‑Confucian conceptions of Li. It would require another book, or possibly several, to exhaust the vast and sometimes contradictory utterances of even one of the main Neo‑Confucian thinkers, let alone the various possible interpretations offered in the growing body of secondary literature. However, it...


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pp. 345-378


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pp. 379-388


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pp. 389-414

Back Cover

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p. 434-434

E-ISBN-13: 9781438448190
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438448176

Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2013