Philosophy East and West, vol. 56, no. 1 (2006)


Lewis E. Hahn (1908–2004)
Compiled by Sharon (Hahn) Crowell, with contributions by George C. H. Sun, John Howie, Thomas Alexander, Kenneth W. Stikkers, Randall Auxier, Robert Hahn, Joseph Wu, Elizabeth R. Eames, Martin Lu, George Kimall Plochmann, Matt Sronkoski, Dave Clarke, Eugenie Gatens-Robinson, Hans H. Rudnick, Stephen Bickham, and Don Mikula, 1


Ontological Indeterminacy and Its Soteriological Relevance: An Assessment of Mou Zongsan’s (1909–1995) Interpretation of Zhiyi’s (538–597) Tiantai Buddhism
Hans-Rudolf Kantor, 16

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 ontology.’’

Li in the Analects: Training in Moral Competence and the Question of Flexibility
Karyn Lai, 69

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 sensitive.

National Communion: Watsuji Tetsurō’s Conception of Ethics, Power, and the Japanese Imperial State
Bernard Bernier, 84

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.

The Crisis of Knowledge in Islam (I): The Case of al-‘Āmirī
Paul L. Heck, 106

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.

The Role of Time in the Structure of Chinese Logic
Jinmei Yuan, 136

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 指) 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.


Ethnophilosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Pragmatism: Toward a Philosophy of Ethnoscapes
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein, 153


Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology, by Julia Adeney Thomas
Reviewed by William R. LaFleur, 172

Double Exposure: Cutting Across Buddhist and Western Discourses, by Bernard Faure, translated by Janet Lloyd
Reviewed by Steven Heine, 178

The Heart of Islamic Philosophy: The Quest for Self-Knowledge in the Teachings of Afdal al-Din Kashani, by William C. Chittick
Reviewed by Kiki Kennedy-Day, 180

The Shape of Ancient Thought, by Thomas McEvilley
Reviewed by Will S. Rasmussen, 182

Keigo in Modern Japan: Polite Language from Meiji to the Present, by Patricia J. Wetzel
Reviewed by Ann Wehmeyer, 191

Opening a Mountain: Kōans of the Zen Masters, by Steven Heine
Reviewed by Dale S. Wright, 194