Philosophy East and West, vol. 59, no. 4 (2009)


Buddhist ‘Foundationalism’ and the Phenomenology of Perception
Christian Coseru, 409

This essay, which draws on a set of interrelated issues in the phenomenology of perception, calls into question the assumption that Buddhist philosophers of the Dignāga-Dharmakīrti tradition pursue a kind of epistemic foundationalism. It is argued that the embodied-cognition paradigm, which informs recent efforts within the Western philosophical tradition to overcome the Cartesian legacy, can also be found—albeit in a modified form—in the Buddhist epistemological tradition. In seeking to ground epistemology in the phenomenology of cognition, the Buddhist epistemologist, it is claimed, is operating on principles similar to those found in Husserl’s phenomenological tradition.

Optimal States and Self-defeating Plans: The Problem of Intentionality in Early Chinese Self-cultivation
Romain Graziani, 440

Whereas Western moral philosophy has mainly accounted for recurrent failed or irrational actions through the concept of weakness of will, many early Chinese texts on self-cultivation, notably the Zhuangzi, stand for a philosophical position that explains our frustrations and failures as an “excess of the will.” Leaving aside external factors such as accidents or mistakes, this essay explores the sources of thwarted plans and frustrated expectations that are due to factors internal to the individual—more precisely, to the nature of intentional conscience. Such a view was generally inadmissible in Western moral philosophy, which revolves around the paradigm of a causal agent endowed with a ‘muscular ethics’ for which all that is desired, and indeed all that is achieved, may only be a direct effect of the will. In striking contrast to this orientation, the Zhuangzi presents a variety of situations in which things do not happen as planned because we were too aware of the plan that guided us. Here, I will use Jon Elster’s concept of by-product states in order to explore this contrast between two contending models of action that, far from being culturally rooted, express an inner criticism in both traditions, European and Chinese.

The Structure of Emptiness
Graham Priest, 467

The view that everything is empty (śūnya) is a central metaphysical plank of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It has often been the focus of objections. Perhaps the most important of these is that it in effect entails a nihilism: nothing exists. This objection, in turn, is denied by Mahāyāna theorists, such as Nāgārjuna. One of the things that makes the debate difficult is that the precise import of the view that everything is empty is unclear. The object of this essay is to put the debate in a new light. It does so by proposing a mathematical characterization of Emptiness—that is, the totality of empty things—showing that, whatever it is, it has a definite structure and is not, therefore, to be identified with nothingness.

How to Rule without Taking Unnatural Actions (无为而治): A Comparative Study of the Political Philosophy of the Laozi
Tongdong Bai, 481

In this essay, the understanding of naturalness and of ruling without taking unnatural actions in the Laozi will be clarified and elaborated on, and it will be argued that the Laozi offers a theoretically adequate and realistic proposal to address both the problems of its times and some of the problems of modernity.

“Ascending the Hall”: Style and Moral Improvement in the Analects
Amy Olberding, 503

The moral vision of the Analects notably includes among our moral responsibilities the need to style behavior such that the propriety of one’s dispositions is evident in one’s manner and demeanor. While the sage effortlessly fulfills this responsibility, the moral learner must actively strive to shape her demeanor and manner. This essay considers her resources for doing so where becoming effortlessly sagely is a distant, if not unreachable, possibility. While the Analects clearly proffers the li as the principal mechanism for developing an appropriate style, the models provided by Zigong and Zilu, two of the text’s most vividly depicted moral learners, demonstrate what an improvement in the domain of style requires and significantly indicate an account of moral style in which formal propriety must be vouchsafed by the personally revelatory.


Beyond Liberal Democracy: A Debate on Democracy and Confucian Meritocracy, a review of Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context, by Daniel A. Bell, 523

Exiting Liberal Democracy: Bell and Confucian Thought
Fred Dallmayr, 524

Where Does Confucian Virtuous Leadership Stand?
Chenyang Li, 531

Beyond Elitism: A Community Ideal for a Modern East Asia
Sor-hoon Tan, 537

Toward Meritocratic Rule in China? A Response to Professors Dallmayr, Li, and Tan
Daniel A. Bell, 554


Is Scientific Knowledge Rational? by Halil Rahman Açar
Reviewed by Clint Jones, 561

On Justice: An Essay in Jewish Philosophy, by Lenn E. Goodman
Reviewed by Bernard S. Jackson, 562

Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, by Sundar Sarukkai
Reviewed by John N. Crossley, 565

Ogyū Sorai’s Philosophical Masterworks: The Bendō and Benmei, by John A. Tucker
Reviewed by Samuel Yamashita, 567

Metaphor and Literalism in Buddhism: The Doctrinal History of Nirvana, by Soonil Hwang
Reviewed by Warren Todd, 571