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Li Zehou (b. 1930) has been an influential thinker in China since the 1950s. Before moving to the U.S. in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Li published works on Kant and traditional and contemporary Chinese philosophy. The present volume, a translation of his Huaxia meixue (1989), is considered among Li’s most significant works. Apart from its value as an introduction to the philosophy of one of contemporary China’s foremost intellectuals, The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition fills an important gap in the literature of Chinese aesthetics in English. It presents Li’s synthesis of the entire trajectory of Chinese aesthetic thought, from ancient times to the early modern period, incorporating pre-Confucian and Confucian ideas, Daoism, Chan Buddhism, and the influence of Western philosophy during the late-imperial period. As one of China’s As one of China's major contemporary philosophers and preeminent authority on Kant, Li is uniquely positioned to observe this trajectory and make it intelligible to today’s readers.
The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition touches on all areas of artistic activity, including poetry, painting, calligraphy, architecture, and the "art of living." Right government, the ideal human being, and the path to spiritual transcendence all come under the provenance of aesthetic thought. According to Li this was the case from early Confucian explanations of poetry as that which gives expression to intent, through Zhuangzi’s artistic depictions of the ideal personality who discerns the natural way of things and lives according to it, to Chan Buddhist-inspired notions that nature and words can come together to yield insight and enlightenment. In this enduring and stimulating work, Li demonstrates conclusively the fundamental role of aesthetics in the development of the cultural and psychological structures in Chinese culture that define "humanity."
Studies in Honour of Derk Bodde
The main theme that pervades this Festschrift, written by fellow-scholars and students of Bodde for his seventy-fifth birthday, is that of the proper ordering of the universe as it obtains in the Chinese tradition.
A Route to Hermeneutics and Open Poetics
This ambitious work provides a systematic study of Chinese theories of reading and writing in intellectual thought and critical practice. The author maintains that there are two major hermeneutic traditions in Chinese literature: the politico-moralistic mainstream and the metaphysico-aesthetical undercurrent. In exploring the interaction between the two, Ming Dong Gu finds a movement toward interpretive openness. In this, the Chinese practice anticipates modern and Western theories of interpretation, especially literary openness and open poetics. Classic Chinese works are examined, including the Zhouyi (the I Ching or Book of Changes), the Shijing (the Book of Songs or Book of Poetry), and selected poetry, along with the philosophical background of the hermeneutic theories. Ultimately, Gu relates the Chinese practices of reading to Western hermeneutics, offering a cross-cultural conceptual model for the comparative study of reading and writing in general.
Compassion is a word we use frequently but rarely precisely. One reason we lack a philosophically precise understanding of compassion is that moral philosophers today give it virtually no attention. Indeed, in the predominant ethical traditions of the West (deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics), compassion tends to be either passed over without remark or explicitly dismissed as irrelevant. And yet in the predominant ethical traditions of Asia, compassion is centrally important: All else revolves around it. This is clearly the case in Buddhist ethics, and compassion plays a similarly indispensable role in Confucian and Daoist ethics.
In Compassion and Moral Guidance, Steve Bein seeks to explain why compassion plays such a substantial role in the moral philosophies of East Asia and an insignificant one in those of Europe and the West. The book opens with detailed surveys of compassion’s position in the philosophical works of both traditions. The surveys culminate in an analysis of the conceptions of self and why the differences between these conceptions serve either to celebrate or marginalize the importance of compassion.
Bein moves on to develop a model for the ethics of compassion, including a chapter on applied ethics seen from the perspective of the ethics of compassion. The result is a new approach to ethics, one that addresses the Rawlsian and Kantian concern for fairness, the utilitarian concern for satisfactory consequences, and the concern in care ethics for the proper treatment of marginalized groups. Bein argues that compassion’s capacity to address all of these makes it a primary tool for ethical decision-making.
A Case Study of The Story of the Stone
This volume first explores the transformation of Chinese Daoism in late imperial period through the writings of prominent intellectuals of the times. In such a cultural context, it then launches an in-depth investigation into the Daoist dimensions of the Chinese narrative masterpiece, The Story of the Stone—the inscriptions of Quanzhen Daoism in the infrastructure of its religious framework, the ideological ramifications of the Daoist concepts of chaos, purity, and the natural, as well as the Daoist images of the gourd, fish, and bird. Zhou presents the central position of Daoist philosophy both in the ideological structure of the Stone, and the literati culture that engenders it.
Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality
This book closely examines texts from Chinese and Western traditions that hold up ethics as the inviolable ground of human existence, as well as those that regard ethics with suspicion. The negative notion of morality contends that because ethics cannot be divorced from questions of belonging and identity, there is a danger that it can be nudged into the domain of the unethical, since ethical virtues can become properties to be possessed with which the recognition of others is solicited. Ethics thus fosters the very egoism it hopes to transcend, and risks excluding the unfamiliar and the stranger. The author argues inspirationally that the unethical underbelly of ethics must be recognized in order to ensure that it remains vibrant.
Coherence in Early Chinese Thought; Prolegomena to the Study of Li
Explores the development of Chinese thought, highlighting its concern with questions of coherence. Providing a bracing expansion of horizons, this book displays the unsuspected range of human thinking on the most basic categories of experience. The way in which early Chinese thinkers approached concepts such as one and many, sameness and difference, self and other, and internal and external stand in stark contrast to the way parallel concepts entrenched in much of modern thinking developed in Greek and European thought. Brook Ziporyn traces the distinctive and surprising philosophical journeys found in the works of the formative Confucian and Daoist thinkers back to a prevailing set of assumptions that tends to see questions of identity, value, and knowledge—the subject matter of ontology, ethics, and epistemology in other traditions—as all ultimately relating to questions about coherence in one form or another. Mere awareness of how many different ways human beings can think and have thought about these categories is itself a game changer for our own attitudes toward what is thinkable for us. The actual inhabitation and mastery of these alternative modes of thinking is an even greater adventure in intellectual and experiential expansion.
Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought
A wide-ranging exploration of traditional Chinese views of mortality.Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought is the definitive exploration of a complex and fascinating but little-understood subject. Arguably, death as a concept has not been nearly as central a preoccupation in Chinese culture as it has been in the West. However, even in a society that seems to understand death as a part of life, responses to mortality are revealing and indicate much about what is valued and what is feared. This edited volume fills the lacuna on this subject, presenting an array of philosophical, artistic, historical, and religious perspectives on death during a variety of historical periods. Contributors look at material culture, including findings now available from the Mawangdui tomb excavations; consider death in Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions; and discuss death and the history and philosophy of war.