Philosophy East and West, vol. 57, no. 1 (2007)


Al-Ghazali on Power, Causation, and ‘Acquisition’
Edward Omar Moad, 1

In Al-Iqtişād fi al-I’tiqād (Moderation in belief), at the end of his chapter on divine power, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali writes, “No created thing comes about through another [created thing]. Rather, all come about through [divine] power.” A precise understanding of what al-Ghazali means by this statement requires an understanding of his conception of power. Here, we will articulate this conception of power and show how it renders a distinctive occasionalist thesis that follows from al-Ghazali’s doctrine of the pervasiveness of divine power. Second, we will review an argument by al-Ghazali against natural necessity and show that the argument turns on the clear implication that, on empirical grounds, al-Ghazali’s conception of power is the only understanding of causation that we have. This follows from an epistemology of power held by al-Ghazali that bears basic similarities to that of John Locke. Third, we will address the tension between such an epistemology of power and the implications of occasionalism with a look at al-Ghazali’s discussion of the theory of kash, or ‘acquisition.’

Rewalking Thoreau and Asia: ‘Light from the East’ for ‘a Very Yankee Sort of Oriental’
David Scott, 14

Thoreau’s engagement with and perspectives on the Orient are considered here. Within Thoreau’s Hindu appropriations, the ‘practical’ importance for Thoreau of yogic practices is reemphasized. Thoreau’s often-cited Buddhist links are questioned. Instead, it is Thoreau’s explicit use of Confucian and Persian Sufi materials that deserve reemphasis, as do, in retrospect, some striking thematic convergences with Taoism. Thoreau’s ‘Light from the East’ focuses on ethical and mystical techniques, infused with lessons from Nature for ‘a very Yankee sort of Oriental.’

The Illumination of Consciousness: Approaches to Self-Awareness in the Indian and Western Traditions
Matthew D. MacKenzie, 40

Philosophers in the Indian and Western traditions have developed and defended a range of sophisticated accounts of self-awareness. Here, four of these accounts are examined, and the arguments for them are assessed. Theories of self-awareness developed in the two traditions under consideration fall into two broad categories: reflectionist or other-illumination theories and reflexivist or self-illumination theories. Having assessed the main arguments for these theories, it is argued here that while neither reflectionist nor reflexivist theories are adequate as traditionally formulated and defended, the approaches examined here give important insights for the development of a more adequate contemporary account of self-awareness.

Negativity and Dialectical Materialism: Zhang Shiying’s Reading of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic
Peter Button, 63

Studies of Chinese dialectical materialism have long neglected the important philosophical dimension of Hegelian thought and its influence on Chinese Marxism. This essay examines the work of Zhang Shiying of Beijing University, whose studies of Hegel’s works on dialectical logic in the 1950s sought to clarify the nature of Hegel’s speculative dialectic and its relation to dialectical materialism. Like Lenin before him, Zhang believed that Hegel’s works on logic offered a more profound reflection on materialism than had previously been recognized by Marxist critics of German idealism. Zhang’s sensitive reading of both Hegel’s Science of Logic and the Encyclopedia Logic highlights the problem of the speculative dialectic and negativity. Examined here is Zhang’s analysis of the Hegelian dialectic in light of contemporary accounts of the role of Hegelian negativity in poststructuralist thought.

Confucian Ethics and “the Age of Biological Control”
A. T. Nuyen, 83

Ronald Dworkin claims that if we are able to control our own biology, “our most settled convictions will … be undermined [and] we will be in a kind of moral free-fall.” This is so because he takes moral convictions to be determined by the choices we make against a fixed biological background. It would seem that if Confucian ethics is grounded in ren xing (human nature) and if ren xing refers to a fixed biological background, then the Confucian moral agent will be in a state of moral free-fall in the age of biological control—that is, if Dworkin is right. We can try to read ren xing as a creative process rather than a fixed nature, but any such reading inevitably grounds ren xing in something else that is biological. There is a way out for Confucians: the Dworkinian choice/chance distinction that is crucial for morality can be relocated away from the boundary between free choice and fixed biology to the boundary between the choices that we make and the fixed background of tradition.


On Wu-wei as a Unifying Metaphor, a review of Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China, by Edward Slingerland
Chris Fraser, 97


Studies in Advaita Vedanta: Towards an Advaita Theory of Consciousness, by Sukharanjan Saha
Reviewed by Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, 107

Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light, by Franklin Perkins
Reviewed by Robin R. Wang, 111

The Virtue of Nonviolence, by Nicholas F. Gier
Reviewed by Shyam Ranganathan, 115

Epistemology in Pracīna and Navya Nyāya, by Sukharanjan Saha
Reviewed by Jonardon Ganeri, 120

White Collar Zen: Using Zen Principles to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Your Career Goals, by Steven Heine
Reviewed by Carol S. Gould, 123

Epistemologies and the Limitations of Philosophical Enquiry: Doctrine in Madhva Vedanta, by Deepak Sarma
Reviewed by Christopher Bartley, 126