Patience and Perspective
Nicolas Bommarito, 269
In much of Western philosophy, patience tends to be either overlooked or described as being non-moral and valuable only instrumentally. This is in stark contrast with its central role in Buddhist ethics. Offered here is a Buddhist-inspired account of how patience can be a moral virtue. It is argued that virtuous patience involves having a perspective on the place of our own desires and values among others and a sense of their relative importance.
On Knowing Universals: The Nyāya Way
Monima Chadha, 287
Presented here are arguments for the novel and interesting Navya-Nyāya thesis that we can be perceptually acquainted with universals or properties (nominalist arguments will not be addressed directly: we start out with the assumption that there are universals!). The first section briefly explicates the Nyāya notion of universals and then states the formal Nyāya position on how we might come to know universals. The second section analyzes the Nyāya arguments for the thesis that universals are perceived, rather than merely thought about or conceived, first by rehearsing the arguments for a theory of real perceivable universals, offered by Jayanta Bhaṭṭa in his Nyāyamañjarī, and then by detailing Gaṅgeśa’s unique contribution to this debate: the idea that universals or qualifiers are given as objects in indeterminate or non-conceptual perception. The third section argues that this thesis should be welcomed by direct realists. This essay aims to articulate a deep connection between direct realism about the external world and the availability of universals in nonconceptual perception, as opposed to the non-conceptual awareness of bare particulars.
Meontological Generativity: A Daoist Reading of the Thing
David Chai, 303
When it comes to the entity known as the Thing (das Ding), two philosophical interpretations are available: the ontological by Martin Heidegger and the ethical by Jacques Lacan. This essay offers a third in the guise of Daoist meontology. As Daoist cosmogony unfolds by way of nothingness (wu 無) and Dao acting in conjunction, the Thing cannot exist at that primal level of creation; it arises in the undifferentiated wholeness of the One. By locating the Thing as such, Daoism bestows upon it the mysteriousness of Dao, ensuring that it remains unspoiled by human endeavors and is a feat neither Heidegger nor Lacan can claim. The Thing thus protects Daoism against claims of nihilism, for each thing returns to its ancestral Thing, not to the nothingness that Dao employs to mold them. Keywords: the Thing, Meontology, Daoism, Lacan, Heidegger.
Gandhi, Deep Religious Pluralism, and Multiculturalism
Nicholas F. Gier, 319
Here Gandhi’s position on religious pluralism is re-evaluated in light of recent work on the subject. Section I expands on David R. Griffin’s critique of John Hick’s theory of religious pluralism. Griffin contends that Hick’s view contains an inherent bias for some Hindu and Buddhist schools and that it does not offer a sufficient grounding for ethics. Section II examines Sharada Sugirtharajah’s thesis that Gandhi’s views are substantially similar to Hick’s. Although there may be some instructive similarities, some significant differences can be pointed out. The most important is Gandhi’s pantheism and immanentism, which contrasts with Hick’s insistence on a transcendent Real that has no qualities. Section III summarizes Griffin’s “deep” or “complementary” religious pluralism, and although Gandhi may be open to most aspects of this view—particularly John B. Cobb’s concept of mutual transformation—Gandhi leaves the ontology-based theories of Griffin and Hick with his doctrine that Truth is God, discussed section IV. Sugirtharajah raises some issues surrounding postmodernism, so in section V it is argued that Gandhi’s views actually go beyond religious pluralism to a “constructive postmodern” multiculturalism that embraces both the sacred and the secular.
Different from the commonly used moralistic perspective, this essay articulates and evaluates major ideas about human desire within the Confucian tradition through a gongfu perspective and shows that although there are historical reasons for blaming Confucianism for suppressing human desires and suffocating humanity, what classic Confucianism advocates is ultimately about how to cultivate humanity, transform human desires, and live artistically, and not about how to impose a rigid normative moral system externally to constrain human life, making it unsatisfying.
Sakya Paṇḍita’s Anti-realism as a Return to the Mainstream
Jonathan C. Gold, 360
Sakya Paaṇḍita (Sa-paṇ) (1182–1251), one of Tibet’s most revered and influential philosophers, often complained about the inadequacies of his Tibetan rivals. This essay analyzes two passages from Sa-paṇ’s Treasury of Reasoning (Tshad ma rigs pa’i gter) to display his belief that his contemporaries had adopted non-Buddhist approaches to the philosophy of language, and to explicate his attempts to return Tibetans to positions more reminiscent of Vasubandhu and Dharmakīrti. The first passage treated is Sa-pan.’s discussion of “appearance” (snang ba), in which he critiques the idea of granting “perceptual” status to what he deems conceptual constructions. The second passage contains Sa-paṇ’s own view of the linguistic “signified” (brjod bya) and his karmically grounded causal theory of linguistic signification. Sa-paṇ’s analyses help to illuminate the depths of a traditional Buddhist approach to language by refusing to cede its core assumptions in the face of more moderate, commonsense views.
How can you bring about sudden and radical moral change in someone who shows himself blatantly impervious to reason, who cannot be forced in any way and may end your own life at his will? This crucial issue was discussed and debated with growing acumen throughout the Warring States period and underlies many a speech strategy, from Mencius’ encounters with the grandees of his time down to the cunning rhetorical devices used by diplomats sent on perilous missions among the contending states of the third century B.C. In the heretofore neglected chapter 30 of the Zhuangzi, “Persuading with Swords,” a strange tale casting Zhuang Zhou himself as a fake swordsman, the author conceives of a very specific intervention in the activities of the swashbuckling ruler of Zhao in order to stop him from inciting lethal battles among his champions and wreaking havoc on his State. We attend as readers to a new form of moral persuasion based on the therapeutic powers of imagination, which turns the Prince of Zhao’s own desire against him. This chapter may be construed as a reflection on the power of fiction embedded in a farcical hoax, in which the author seems to have made headway with the problem tackled in chapter 4, “In the World of Men” (“Renjian shi” 人間世), dealing mainly with scholars’ perilous political missions. The present study translates, comments on, and interprets the radical switch of perspective adopted in the attempt to solve the problem of the inefficacy of speech in certain critical contexts. Zhuang Zhou’s intervention is analyzed in the light of modern psychotherapeutic techniques also used to bring about a satisfactory change in persons who suffer from obsessions or violent behaviors, and contrasts them with traditional forms of persuasion best exemplified in the Mencius, which chapter 30 ironically references in a subtle interplay.
For Bhartṛhari, a fifth-century Indian grammarian-philosopher, all conscious beings are capable of what he called pratibhā, a flash of indescribable intuitive understanding such that one knows what the present object means and what to do with it. Such an understanding, if correct, amounts to a mode of knowing that may best be termed knowing-what. This essay attempts to expound Bhartṛhari’s conception of pratibhā in relation to the notions of meaning, understanding, and knowing, with a view to suggesting its relevance for contemporary studies of related topics.
Politics and Interest in Early Confucianism
Sungmoon Kim, 425
This essay investigates the “morality of interest” in classical Confucianism by examining the philosophical thoughts of Mencius and Xunzi. It argues that despite many differences, Mencius and Xunzi strove to (re-)construct a civil political order that could best serve the welfare of the people by rejecting the stringent dichotomy of morality and interest and attempted to reinvent interest enlightened by ren (benevolence) and yi (righteousness) and harnessed by li (Confucian rituals). Examining Mencius’ advocacy of a creative entwinement between the Kingly Way and interest and his unarticulated idea of positive Confucian moral politics, it is shown how Xunzi brought Mencius’ nascent idea of positive Confucian moral politics to full fruition by, ironically, criticizing him.
Mysticism and the Notion of God in Nishida’s Philosophy of Religion
Andrea Leonardi, 449
In Nishida Kitarō’s An Inquiry into the Good and The Logic of Locus and the Religious Worldview, written respectively at the beginning and at the end of his philosophical career, one can find remarkably similar references to mysticism which nevertheless give opposite evaluations of the phenomenon: while mysticism is highly praised in the former, it is disparaged in the latter. This essay is a reflection on the nature of and the reasons for these opposing evaluations, focusing on the changes in Nishida’s ideas of God and ultimate reality. This, perhaps, is a starting point to an assessment of the evolution of Nishida’s thought and its import for the problem of religion. It is argued that the rejection of mysticism by Nishida later in life corresponds to a narrowing of the horizon of his philosophy, and, regardless of its depth and truth-value, this reduces its importance as a philosophy of religion. For Nishida’s narrowing scope makes his later philosophy unfit to provide an understanding of religious experience as such, as it has grown constricted to the interpretation and apologetics of a particular religious mindset.
COMMENT AND DISCUSSION
Did Suhrawardi Believe in Innate Ideas as A Priori Concepts? A Note
Seyed N. Mousavian, 473
Suhrawardi on Innateness: A Reply to John Walbridge
Seyed N. Mousavian, 486
A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future, by Jiang Qing, translated by Edmund Ryden, edited by Daniel A. Bell and Ruiping Fan
Reviewed by Stephen C. Angle, 502
Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy, by Christian Coseru
Reviewed by Amit Chaturvedi, 506
China: The Political Philosophy of the Middle Kingdom, by Bai Tongdong
Reviewed by David Elstein, 513
Philosophie in der Islamischen Welt, Band 1, 8.–10. Jahrhundert (Philosophy in the Islamic world, volume 1, Eighth to tenth centuries), edited by Ulrich Rudolph, with the assistance of Renate Würsch
Reviewed by Tony Street, 515
Books Received, 518