Philosophy East and West, vol. 52, no. 4 (2002)


The Abduction of Vagueness: Interpreting the Laozi
Steve Coutinho, 409

The role of vagueness in the Laozi is explored by investigating its connection with ‘‘process.’’ First, a hermeneutic methodology is developed and adopted, derived from Peirce’s notion of ‘‘abduction.’’ Second, this notion is analyzed, and several distinctive characteristics, or ‘‘traces,’’ of vagueness are identified. Third, evidence of these traces in the text of the Laozi is collected, with comments on their significance in the Daoist context.

The Rationalist Tendency in Modern Buddhist Scholarship: A Revaluation
Sungtaek Cho, 426

Contemporary Buddhist studies has been strongly affected by its origins in the Victorian era, when Western religious scholars sought to rationalize and historicize the study of religion. Modern Asian scholars, trained within the Western scholarly paradigm, share this prejudice in favor of the rational. The result is a skewed understanding of Buddhism, emphasizing its philosophical and theoretical aspects at the expense of seemingly ‘‘irrational’’ religious elements based on the direct experience of meditation practice.

Transforming Knowledge into Wisdom: A Contemporary Chinese Philosopher’s Investigation
Yang Guorong, 441

Feng Qi is widely acknowledged in mainland China as one of the few consummate and most original thinkers to have emerged there since 1949. The essence of Feng’s thought is to provide a solution to the time-honored problem of the confrontation between fact and value, between a positivistic/scientific approach and a humanistic/metaphysical approach. Feng tries to solve this conflict by constructing what he calls ‘‘epistemology in a broader sense,’’ at the core of which is his theory of the ‘‘transformation of knowledge into wisdom.’’

Inside/Outside: Merleau-Ponty/Yoga
Sundar Sarukkai, 459

There is an inherent ambiguity in the notions of inner and outer in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy even as his ideas attempt to reject the duality of transcendence and immanence. In particular, his philosophy of the body is inexplicably silent on the phenomenological experiences of the inner body. In contrast, the discourse and practice of yoga allow for a fresh phenomenological understanding of the inner body. Thus, it seems relevant to consider the wider implications of the practice of yoga to Merleau-Ponty’s thematization of the body and the world. The consequences of such a reflection are manifold and suggest that the ‘‘inside’’ can be understood as the phenomenological experience of dimensionality; the yogic practices of body postures and breathing techniques allow for a ‘‘perception’’ of the inner body, which then leads us to understand this perception in terms of the reversibility of consuming and consumed.

Making the World My Body: Simone Weil and Somatic Practice
Ann Pirruccello, 479

French philosopher Simone Weil (1909–1943) was convinced that bodily or somatic practices could play a significant role in human moral and religious development. Weil believed that such development hinges on how the world is read (lecture) or interpreted, and somatic practices play a key role in shifting from more to less egocentric readings. While she did not live to complete her research on somatic practice, it is fruitful to follow out the lines of her program. Comparing her considerations with those of Japanese Buddhists, and especially Dōgen, helps throw into relief her philosophical commitment concerning the body and reveals her preoccupation with purity. Weil’s research raises interesting questions for philosophers of somatic practice.


Rituals of the Way: The Philosophy of Xunzi, by Paul Rakita Goldin
Reviewed by Joanne D. Birdwhistell, 498