Philosophy East and West
Volume 56, Number 1, January 2006
Remembering Lewis E. Hahn
Sun, George C. H.
Alexander, Thomas M., 1952-
Stikkers, Kenneth W.
Auxier, Randall E., 1961-
Hahn, Robert, 1952-
Eames, Elizabeth Ramsden.
Plochmann, George Kimball, 1914-
Clarke, D. S. (David S.), 1936-
Rudnick, Hans H., 1935-
Ontological Indeterminacy and Its Soteriological Relevance: An Assessment of Mou Zhongsan's (1909-1995) Interpretation of Zhiyi's (538-597) Tiantai Buddhism [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Salvation -- Buddhism.
Buddhism and philosophy.
This is an attempt to clarify a vital ontological aspect of Tiantai teaching
created by the sixth-century Chinese Buddhist monk Zhiyi. To do this Tiantai
must first be distanced from Mou Zongsan's interpretation of its central
pattern of nonduality, a reconstructive theory that refers to both Chinese
Buddhism and Confucianism and sees a "two-level ontology" in Chinese
philosophical traditions, grounded in both the Chinese Buddhist patterns of
"nonduality between the sacred and the profane" and the Kantian distinction
between "noumena and phenomena." Part 1 of this article is a critical
analysis and evaluation of Mou's theory, concluding that the Buddhist
patterns of nonduality and the Kantian distinction are not mutually
convertible. Part 2 focuses on Tiantai ontology in the specific context of its
soteriological relevance, demonstrating that the ideal of "universally saving
all sentient beings" in Tiantai soteriology must presuppose the conception of
"nonduality of/between the sacred and the profane," and that the
ambiguous ontological status of existing things corresponds to this
soteriological doctrine in a manner that can only be expressed by a
"paradoxical articulation." The ontological meaning of Tiantai teaching is
then specified with regard to Zhiyi's discussion of reality and the diversity of
existing things. The three constitutive elements of Tiantai Buddhism—the
soteriological doctrine of nonduality, ontological indeterminacy, and
paradoxical articulation—are all based on an ideal of universal salvation that
excludes a level of "being" transcending the realm of sentient beings. This
conclusion directly controverts Mou's metaphysical notion of a "two-level
Lai, Karyn, 1964-
Li in the Analects: Training in Moral Competence and the Question of Flexibility [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Confucius. Lun yu.
Moral development -- Philosophy.
It is proposed here that the Confucian li, norms of appropriate behavior, be
understood as part of the dynamic process of moral self-cultivation. Within
this framework li are multidimensional, as they have different functions at
different stages in the cultivation process. This novel interpretation refocuses
the issue regarding the flexibility of li, a topic that is still being debated by scholars. The significance of this proposal is not restricted to a new
understanding of li. Key features of the various stages of moral development
in Confucian thought are also articulated. This account presents the picture
of a Confucian paradigmatic person as critically self-aware and ethically
Bernier, Bernard, 1942-
National Communion: Watsuji Tetsuro's Conception of Ethics, Power, and the Japanese Imperial State [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Watsuji, Tetsuro, 1889-1960.
Political ethics -- Japan -- History -- 20th century.
Watsuji Tetsurō defined ethics as being generated by a double negation: the individual's negation of the community and the self-negation of the individual who returns to the community. Thus, ethics for him is based on
the individual's sacrifice for the collectivity. This position results in the
conception of the community as an absolute. I contend that there is a
congruence between Watsuji's conception of ethics as self-sacrifice and the
way he perceived the Japanese political system. To him, the imperial system
in Japan is based on the organic unity of the Japanese people, represented by
the emperor, who embodies the general will of, and is therefore coterminous
with, the Japanese nation.
Skepticism as doubts about religious knowledge played a significant role in
the intellectual reflection of the fourth and fifth Islamic centuries (tenth and
eleventh centuries c.e.), a period of considerable plurality within Islam on
many levels. Such skepticism was directed at revealed knowledge that
spelled out the customs and norms (i.e., laws) particular to the Islamic way
of life (religio-moral knowledge). Doubts were pushed by (1) theologians
who, themselves caught within a web of "parity of evidence" between the
various schools of Islam, saw little hope of verifying the superiority of
Muslim ways over those of other communities, and (2) Muslim intellectuals
who viewed the particular religio-moral practices of Islam as shamefully
atavistic and primitive, seeking instead to table "visible" religion for an
esoterically conceived one. Against such detractors, a significant scholar of
the period, Abū l-Hasan al-'Āmirī (d. 381/992), constructed a philosophical (and therefore theologically "neutral") defense of exoteric Islam, arguing in Aristotelian terms for (1) the superiority of religio-moral knowledge (the particular) over philosophical knowledge (the universal) in light of the greater benefit of the former to the welfare of society and (2) the superiority of Islamic religio-moral knowledge, since, he claims, it squares with logic more than any other communal way of life. The argument, one of many seeking to come to terms with the intellectual vagaries of the day, demonstrates how skepticism pushed scholars to explore more profoundly the nature of religion. In al-'Āmirī's case, his argument, metaphysically based with mystical inclinations, set the stage for later articulations of Islamic religiosity that integrated the human mind into the arena of Islam's revealed way of life.
Ancient Chinese logicians presupposed no fixed order in the world. Things
are changing all the time. Time, then, plays a crucial role in the structure of
Chinese logic. This article uses the concept of "subjective time" and the
Leibnizian concept of "possible worlds" to analyze the structure of logic in
the Later Mohist Canon and in the logical reasoning of other early Chinese
philosophers. The author argues that Chinese logic is structured in the time
of the now. This time is subjective and "spreads out" to more than one
possible world. Chinese logicians had to deal with relationships in not only
a single world but also more than one "possible world." The aim of Chinese
logical reasoning is not to represent any universal truth but to point out
(zhi ) a particular-world-related truth, or, in other words, the harmony of relations among particulars in a particular field at a single moment.
Therefore, a valid Chinese logical argument represents only the beauty of
harmony among possible worlds at a given moment. The harmony
represented by Chinese logic brings to light a high level of aesthetic order in
a world that is always changing.
Comments and Discussion
Ethnophilosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Pragmatism: Toward a Philosophy of Ethnoscapes [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Cognition and culture.
Culture and globalization.
LaFleur, William R.
Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Thomas, Julia Adeney, 1958- Reconfiguring modernity: concepts of nature in Japanese political ideology.