Commentators have recently turned their attention to the Confucian notion of the mandate of heaven. The question is: Is the ruler legitimate because Heaven says so, or does Heaven say so because he is qualified as a legitimate ruler (i.e., by the way he benefits the people)? The answer depends on how the notion of mandate of heaven is interpreted. In what might be called the liberal interpretation, the mandate of heaven lies in the will of the people. In what might be called the conservative reading, the mandate to rule lies in a heaven that transcends the people. To subscribe to the latter is to subscribe to what might be called the “Divine Command Theory of political legitimacy,” analogous to the Divine Command Theory of morality. By contrast, the liberal reading of “mandate of heaven” is analogous to the “moral autonomy” position. Mencius’ view on political legitimacy will be discussed in terms of the Divine Command Theory so as to permit a comparison with Kant’s account of moral judgments. It will be argued that Kant manages to avoid being impaled on either horn of the Euthyphro dilemma by grasping both horns. In the same way, Mencius’ view can be read as one that incorporates both the liberal and the conservative positions. It will be argued that such reading is more consistent with textual evidence and renders Mencius’ position more coherent.
Watsuji’s Phenomenology of Embodiment and Social Space
Joel Krueger, 127
This essay situates Tetsurō Watsuji within contemporary approaches to social cognition. It argues for Watsuji’s current relevance, suggesting that his analysis of embodiment and social space puts him in step with some of the concerns driving ongoing treatments of social cognition in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It is further shown how Watsuji offers a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. First, some interpretative work is done to explore Watsuji’s conception of embodied intersubjectivity. The focus in particular is on Watsuji’s conception of what is termed here the “hybrid” body as well as his distinctive treatment of interpersonal space—what Watsuji terms “betweenness” (aidagara). Next, these notions are connected to current treatments of social cognition within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Made explicit are several of the ways that Watsuji challenges the core cognitivist and internalist presuppositions behind the Theory of Mind paradigm, and experimental work is drawn from, among other sources, developmental psychology and gesture studies to support Watsuji’s alternative characterization of embodied social interaction.
This study asks two related questions. First, how did the Chinese Buddhists generally think of the nature of interpretation? Second, how did they address the issue of inconsistency inherent in their answer to the first question? The first answer is straightforward, for the model of “truth, teaching, and interpretation” is widely accepted as the “standard formulation” of the nature of interpretation. This answer, however, has an obvious flaw: if the very reason why teaching requires interpretation lies in its unavoidable dependence on intellection, which obstructs its effective transmission of truth, how can interpretation, which is equally if not more reliant on intellection, adequately transmit the truth in a way in which teaching fails? The second answer thus addresses this inconsistency. It argues that while there has never been an explicitly formulated answer to this question, theoretical reflections on unrelated topics seem to have created a general intellectual atmosphere that would allow people to ignore or at least comfortably live with the obvious inconsistency, that is, an atmosphere that would supplement and, in that sense, justify and sustain the answer to the first question; unformulated but supplementary, such theoretical reflections constitute the implicit corollaries of the standard formulation.
One of the issues dividing the Digambara and Śvetāmbara sects of Jainism centers on the nature of the kevalin—where a kevalin is a being that has achieved kevalajñāna or omniscience. According to the Śvetāmbara sect the kevalin continues to act much like a normal human being (eating, preaching, walking, etc.) after his enlightenment. But the Digambara sect denies this. They claim that the kevalin ceases to act at the moment of his enlightenment. Reason is given here for thinking that the Digambara sect is right about the nature of the kevalin. It is argued that the kevalin is a trivialist, that is, someone who believes that everything is the case. According to Graham Priest, precisely because a trivialist believes everything, he is unable to act. Because he believes that a given state of affairs already obtains, the trivialist cannot form the intention to bring about that state of affairs. Why is the kevalin a trivialist? An answer is attempted by raising a paradox in Jain epistemology. According to various doctrinal sources, the kevalin is infallible and omniscient. But the mode of this knowledge is a priori, because the kevalin is causally isolated from the rest of reality. How is it possible for the kevalin to know everything infallibly without there being any connection between himself and the objects of his knowledge? The only solution to this paradox is to postulate that everything is true and that the kevalin believes everything to be true. It is then shown that this trivialist account of Jain epistemology coheres nicely with Jain logic and metaphysics. Given that the kevalin is a trivialist and given the conclusion that the trivialist cannot act, the kevalin cannot act. Therefore, the Digambara sect is right about the nature of the kevalin.
Enacting Selves, Enacting Worlds: On the Buddhist Theory of Karma
Matthew MacKenzie, 194
The concept of karma is one of the most general and basic for the philosophical traditions of India, one of an interconnected cluster of concepts that form the basic presuppositions of Indian philosophy. The focus of this essay is on two interrelated aspects of the Buddhist theory of karma. After some preliminary comments on the general philosophical notion of karma and on the enactivist approach to philosophical psychology, I will explore the distinctively Buddhist idea that through the karmic process we enact ourselves—that is, we make and remake ourselves through our actions. Second, I will discuss the idea that we also enact our world(s) through karma—that is, our patterns of action and reaction bring forth meaningful worlds, which in turn shape those very patterns for better or worse. Finally, I will briefly discuss the character and cultivation of enlightened action, action free from the production of karma.
This essay deals with a selected part of an epistemological controversy provided by Ṭūsī in response to the skeptical arguments reported by Rāzī that is related to what might be called “intellectual skepticism,” or skepticism regarding the judgments of the intellect, particularly in connection with self-evident principles. It will be shown that Rāzī has cited and exposed a position that seems to be no less than a medieval version of empiricism. Ṭūsī, in contrast, has presented us with a position that rejects such empiricism. The comparative aim of this essay is to draw attention to some similarities as well as some points of divergence between the kind of skeptical debate we are focusing on here, and some relevant epistemological discussions in the later traditions in the West.
A Phenomenological Reading of Zhuzi
Jong-Hyun Yeo, 251
Metaphysical and phenomenological features coexist in Zhuzi’s philosophy. However, phenomenological features have so far been concealed; instead, metaphysical features have mainly been the focus. It is shown here that Zhuzi’s philosophy is, to some degree, phenomenological in Husserl’s sense, by breaking from the customary metaphysical reading of Zhuzi and interpreting him in terms of Husserl’s phenomenology. The reason for this is that the realization of the idea of Zhuzi’s philosophy is advantageous, if his philosophy is read phenomenologically rather than metaphysically. The philosophical grounds for this is found in the two “correlations,” one in Zhuzi between li 理 and qi 氣 and the other in Husserl between logical laws and mental acts in logical thinking, without which their philosophies could not have been formed. By showing that the two correlations are parallel in the way of Being and then by interpreting Zhuzi’s mind and gewuzhizhi in terms of Husserl’s phenomenological intentionality of mind and phenomenological reduction, I show that Zhuzi’s philosophy is phenomenological in Husserl’s sense.
Barbra Clayton and Charles Goodman have recently proposed interpretations of Mahāyāna philosophy that take its fundamental ethical commitments to be consequentialist. There are aspects of the bodhisattva ideal, however, that result in a distinctive constraint on what might otherwise amount to a commitment to consequentialist maximization. Though the doctrinal provenance of this constraint is unique, the constraint itself is in some ways akin to a feature of Kant’s ideal of the kingdom of ends. This does not make Mahāyāna ethics proto-Kantian, but it does suggest that its complexity does not rule out an analysis in terms of familiar consequentialist and non-consequentialist theoretical elements.
Dong Zhongshu: A ‘Confucian’ Heritage and the Chunqiu Fanlu, by Michael Loewe
Reviewed by Paul Fischer, 306
Philosophy in Early Safavid Iran: Najm al-Dīn Maḥmūd al-Nayrīzī and His Writings, by Reza Pourjavady
Reviewed by Janis Eshots, 308
Books Received, 311