Embodiment, Subjectivity, and Disembodied Existence
Ramesh Kumar Sharma, 1
This essay starts with a clarification of the assumption that prima facie all experience is lived embodied experience. Subsequent to a brief allusion to Leibniz’ mind-body parallelism and to an identical denial in some Indian schools like Sāṁkhya of any real relation holding between self and body, it is shown how embodiment yet remains in these schools the chief condition of the possibility of experience and voluntary action (karma). Following the inevitable discussion of the question of the reality and distinctiveness of the body is a sympathetic consideration of the concept of bodily subjectivity. The question of the self is then taken up by showing how subjectivity proper belongs to the self, rejecting in the process not only anti-self views but also the view that all subjectivity is exhausted in bodily subjectivity. The question of the layers of subjectivity is then discussed, with emphasis on that reflective subjectivity in which, it is contended, we snap our links with the concerns of the ordinary intentional life and launch ourselves on non-egoistic concerns. Finally, the issue of the possibility of (a) the disembodied existence of the self and (b) experiences in the absence of the present body after death is examined.
In the opening chapters of A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought, Chad Hansen prefaces his interpretation of how the Chinese language lends uniqueness to its philosophical tradition with a sharp contrast to Indo-European languages and thought. Hansen attempts to show how the Sanskrit language bestows on Indian Buddhism very similar epistemological, metaphysical, and mentalist dilemmas found in Western thought, whereas classical Chinese thought, owing to the structure of its language and attendant theories of language, is instructively free of these dilemmas. A correct appreciation of these differences both in languages and consequent theories of language, Hansen argues, will prevent us from making the mistake of taking Daoist thought to be a form of one-many, anti-rational, ineffable mysticism such as we find in the Buddhist tradition. This essay will attempt to show that the Indian Mahāyāna schools of thought that eventually became the most influential in China actually entertained theories of linguistic understanding that, in their various forms of conventionalism and constructivism, would more likely have struck classical Chinese philosophers as quite congenial, despite the vast differences in the languages of the two civilizations.
Hegel’s Criticism of Laozi and Its Implications
Wong Kwok Kui, 56
This essay looks at the fundamental differences between Chinese and Western philosophy as reflected in Hegel’s famous criticism of Laozi. In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel argues that Laozi’s thought remains at the beginning stage of philosophy because it cannot move away from the abstract to derive “a kingdom of determination” to explain the multitude in the world. This essay investigates the reason for Hegel’s criticism by critically examining the meaning of “determination” (Bestimmung) in his philosophical system with reference to his other writings, like The Science of Logic, and argues that Hegel is very much in the Socratic tradition of Western philosophy, in which definition and determination are the keys to knowledge. It then turns to examine Laozi’s approach of knowing the miao 妙 of heaven and earth “without desire” (無欲), and argues that Laozi is putting forward a method of knowing by letting the meaning of things appear by themselves “without doing anything,” a contrast to Hegel’s approach of conceptual determination. Finally, it examines Laozi’s view on yu 欲 in contrast to Hegel’s “desire” (Begierde), and concludes that Hegel’s low estimation of Laozi is rooted in his own developmental view of philosophy.
“Of What Use Are the Odes?” Cognitive Science, Virtue Ethics, and Early Confucian Ethics
Edward Slingerland, 80
This article reviews recent evidence from the fields of cognitive science, cognitive linguistics, behavioral neuroscience, and social psychology that call into question the model of the self that underlies current dominant approaches to ethics in Western philosophy, pointing to the crucial role of affect, embodiment, and metaphorical extension in moral judgments and decision making. It then examines the implications of these results for moral philosophy, concluding that the virtue-ethical model of self-cultivation more accurately represents how real human beings engage in moral reasoning, and is also better adapted as an educational technique to the evolved cognitive architecture of human beings than deontological or utilitarian approaches. Finally, turning to early Confucianism, it will suggest some of the ways in which Mencius’ views about morality and ethical education strikingly anticipate findings coming out of the modern Western cognitive sciences, and therefore how thinkers such as Mencius can serve as an important conceptual resource in envisioning what an empirically responsible modern virtue ethic might look like.
Chuang Tzu’s Becoming-Animal
Irving Goh, 110
Contemporary intellectual discourse on the animal question is already referenced inexhaustibly with the Western canon’s philosophical, religious, political, and literary texts. This essay proposes that the Chuang Tzu, which lies outside that canon, can provide a critical supplement to this discourse and broaden its space of comparative discussion. But this can be done only by recognizing that the Chuang Tzu is not just a text with animal metaphors but a veritable animal text, a text that looks toward following the animal, or, to use Deleuze and Guattari’s term, becoming-animal. That is the task of this essay, as it seeks to demonstrate that thinking the Way in the Chuang Tzu concerns precisely following or thinking the animal.
COMMENT AND DISCUSSION
How Can a Buddha Come to Act? The Possibility of a Buddhist Account of Ethical Agency
Bronwyn Finnigan, 134
Hey, Buddha! Don’t Think! Just Act!—A Response to Bronwyn Finnigan
Jay L Garfield, 174
Sounding the Analects, Engaging Confucius: a review of Confucius Now: Contemporary Encounters with the Analects, edited by David Jones
Kirill O. Thompson, 195
Essays on Japanese Philosophy, a review of Japanese Philosophy Abroad, edited by James W. Heisig; Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy, edited by James W. Heisig; Neglected Themes and Hidden Variations: Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 2, edited by Victor Sōgen Hori and Melissa Anne-Marie Curley; Origins and Possibilities: Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 3, edited by James W. Heisig and Uehara Mayuko; and Facing the 21st Century: Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 4, edited by Lam Wing-keung and Cheung Ching-yuen
Robert E. Carter, 216
Buddhadāsa: Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in Thailand, by Peter A. Jackson
Reviewed by Steve Odin, 221
The Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Douglas Allen
Reviewed by Veena Rani Howard, 231
Polishing the Chinese Mirror: Essays in Honor of Henry Rosemont, Jr., edited by Marthe Chandler and Ronnie Littlejohn
Reviewed by Sor-hoon Tan, 237
Rumi’s Spiritual Shi’ism, edited by Seyed Ghahreman Safavi
Reviewed by James Bockmier, 240
Books Received, 244