Philosophy East and West, vol. 62, no. 1 (2012)


Parasitism and Disjunctivism in Nyāya Epistemology
Matthew R. Dasti, 1

This article examines a number of arguments I collectively term arguments from parasitism, which Nyāya employs to illustrate that rational reflection, the institution of language, and even error itself presuppose a ground-level basis of veridical cognitive interaction with the world. It further suggests that by such arguments, coupled with its stress on the inerrancy of pramāṇas, Nyāya anticipates and supports the contemporary philosophical movement known as (epistemological) disjunctivism.

Theory and Comparison in the Discussion of Buddhist Ethics
Michael G. Barnhart, 16

Comparisons between the ethical views of Western and non-Western thinkers have been a staple of comparative philosophy for quite some time now. Some of these comparisons, such as between the views of Aristotle and Confucius, seem especially apt and revealing. However, is it really so obvious that Western “ethical theory”― virtue ethics, deontology, or consequentialism ― is always the best lens through which to approach non-Western ethical thought in general and Buddhism in particular? The existence of more indigenous accounts of Buddhist ethics raises other questions. Does Buddhism bring something unique to the table, perhaps stretching the way in which we think about ethics generally? Or, does Buddhism represent a variant, perhaps a unique and informative one, of a cluster of approaches? Does it stand alone or in a theoretical family? This essay attempts to answer these questions by examining some of Buddhism’s more unique elements as well as the nature of the various standard ethical theories to see whether they at least exhibit the same spirit of approach endemic to Buddhism. I argue that, by and large, they do not.

The Unsolved Issue of Consciousness
Nishida Kitarō, translated with an introduction by John W. M. Krummel, 44

This essay by Nishida Kitarō from 1927, translated into English here for the first time, is from the initial period of what has come to be called “Nishida philosophy” (Nishida tetsugaku), when Nishida was first developing his conception of “place” (basho). Nishida here inquires into the relationship between logic and consciousness in terms of place and implacement in order to overcome the shortcomings of previous philosophical attempts ― from the ancient Greeks to the moderns ― to dualistically conceive the relationship between being and knowing in terms of subject-object or form-matter. During the course of articulating his novel approach to consciousness and cognition, Nishida discusses what he takes to be the weaknesses of Greek hylomorphism, Kantian (and neo-Kantian) dualism, and Husserlian phenomenology. Dissatisfied with the attribution of mere passivity to placiality, and turning away from consciousness objectified as a subject of statement, Nishida imparts to consciousness qua place a certain logical independence as an active yet un-objectifiable “predicate.” This investigation of consciousness as the unobjectifiable place for objectification leads Nishida to the notion of what precedes consciousness itself, a “place of nothing” (mu no basho) that envelops the dichotomized structures of subject-predicate, being-nothing, subject-object, universal-particular, et cetera.

Mohist Care
Dan Robins, 60

This essay refutes the widely held view that the Mohist doctrine of inclusive care (jian ai 兼愛) rules out any special preference for those close to us, especially family. Family values such as filial piety were in fact extremely important for the Mohists, as is clear even in their writings on inclusive care. Caring inclusively involved taking up a social perspective by committing oneself to collective norms that, if widely followed, would secure everybody’s well-being. This would not be a pure form of altruism, since many people would be able to care inclusively for others only if they could in turn benefit from other people’s care. This distinguishes the inclusive from the truly benevolent, who would remain benevolent regardless of how other people treat them. Understood, as it is argued here that we should, the Mohist doctrine of inclusive care provides a compelling account of how we should concern ourselves with one another’s well-being in a society in which caring attitudes are sufficiently widespread.

How Meaning Moves: Tan Sitong on Borrowing across Cultures
Leigh K. Jenco, 92

Much recent comparative political theory and philosophy engages the substantive ideas of historically marginalized thought traditions, but ignores the methodological insights that have structured cross-cultural thinking in diverse times and places. In contrast, this essay examines the cross-cultural methodology of Tan Sitong, an influential Chinese reformer of the Qing dynasty who thought critically and carefully about his country’s engagement with Western knowledge. Tan’s work draws attention to how dynamic and plural meaning (dao) in any society is embedded and produced through externally observable practices and institutions (qi) that can be replicable in other communities. Working from these metaphysical assumptions, he draws attention to the possibility of “authentic” imitation of foreign ways of life. His ambitions to authenticity, however, do not affirm a cultural essence so much as they recognize the process of meaning-production as driven by a necessary tension between continuity or replication, on the one hand, and innovation and interpretation, on the other. Tan therefore provides an important corrective to contemporary accounts that emphasizes how the emergent and hybrid character of cultural constructs tends to ignore the ways in which foreign learning can be a site of discipline as well as a target of inclusion.


The Centrality of Karma in Early Buddhism, a review of What the Buddha Thought, by Richard Gombrich
William Walters, 114


Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics, by Christopher Ives
Reviewed by James Mark Shields, 128

Ritual and Deference: Extending Chinese Philosophy in a Comparative Context, by Robert Cummings Neville
Reviewed by Sor-hoon Tan, 131

Rorty, Pragmatism and Confucianism, edited by Yong Huang
Reviewed by Andrew Lambert, 134

The Jews as a Chosen People: Tradition and Transformation, by S. Leyla Gürkan
Reviewed by Paul E. Nahme, 139

Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I-Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China, by Richard J. Smith
Reviewed by Tze-ki Hon, 144

The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition, by Li Zehou
Reviewed by Marthe Chandler, 147


Books Received, 151