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Chinese PhilosophyI. Cosmology and world-view             Geir Sigurðsson   Icelandic Centre for Asian Studies,         Un...
The power of cosmology• The “cosmos” may    • Our understanding of  not be so distant     the world informs:              ...
...lest be bombarded with rotten tomatoes• On generalizations:  – Limited and often questionable  – But inescapable  – And...
Filosofia vs. 哲学• „Filo-sofia“ = love of       • 哲 rather indicates  (theoretical) wisdom           practical and  (Socrat...
“Doesn’t time pass by just like this,   never ceasing day or night!’”• How do we, Westerners, understand  world-operations...
More on changes• The world is self-engendering, no “prime  mover – 自然 (self-so) instead of 使然  (made-so) – „a web without ...
Dual harmony but no “dualism”• Harmony of opposing powers/dimensions  – yin and yang 阴阳 , in and out 内外 , heaven and earth...
More characteristics• No determinism, but dispositions: Tang Junyi  non-fixed “destiny” 无定命观• Focus on taking advantage of...
Some potential consequences• More flexibility – less exactitute (e.g. Lin Yutang)?• Scientific holism – negligence of natu...
Philosophy or religion?• Again: rejection of dilemmas• “The question “is Confucianism a  religion?” is a question that Wes...
Some characteristics of Chinese   religion (and philosophy?)• No (or vague) transcendence• inseparability of “heaven” and ...
Harmony of heaven (nature) and    human being 天人合一
Ancient philosophy schools•   Confucianism (rujia 儒家 ): 6th c. BCE•   Daoism (daojia 道家 ): 6th c. BCE•   Legalism (fajia 法...
Later schools:• Neo-Confucianism     • New Confucianism  (songming rujia 宋明     (xin rujia 新儒家 ):  儒家 ): 10th-19th        ...
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Chinphil1

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Chinphil1

  1. 1. Chinese PhilosophyI. Cosmology and world-view Geir Sigurðsson Icelandic Centre for Asian Studies, University of Akureyri 11.12.2006
  2. 2. The power of cosmology• The “cosmos” may • Our understanding of not be so distant the world informs: – Meaning – Goals – Values – Actions/responses – Thus, quotidian behaviour
  3. 3. ...lest be bombarded with rotten tomatoes• On generalizations: – Limited and often questionable – But inescapable – And: „the exception proves the rule“• Philosophy schools both in China and the West are many and variable• But have common (cultural) characteristics• Philosophy as “truth“ or deepest structural layer of culture
  4. 4. Filosofia vs. 哲学• „Filo-sofia“ = love of • 哲 rather indicates (theoretical) wisdom practical and (Socrates) communicable• Contra practical use – knowledge „Wisdom for the sake of • 口 = mouth, 手 = wisdom“ (Aristotle) hand, 斤 = tool• Emphasis on reason – • The value of wisdom distrust of sense- consists in its usefulness experience. (Plato, for everyday life Descartes) • „Know how“ rather• „Metaphysics“ – than „know what“ intelligible nature of the • Wisdom is gained here world, accessible only and now, in mundane to philosophers (Plato) life
  5. 5. “Doesn’t time pass by just like this, never ceasing day or night!’”• How do we, Westerners, understand world-operations?• Chinese starting point is not “cause,” “creation” or “cosmos”, but that which exists now 世界,宇宙• Tang Junyi (1909-1978): 生生不已• General assumption of the ceaseless movement of the world: – Book of Changes (Yijing 易经 )
  6. 6. More on changes• The world is self-engendering, no “prime mover – 自然 (self-so) instead of 使然 (made-so) – „a web without a weaver“• Recurring (but not identical) elements, such as day and night, seasons, tide: “Returning is the movement of the dao” (DDJ 40) – time as a spiral• The five phases (wu xing 五行 ) – water, fire, metal, wood, earth
  7. 7. Dual harmony but no “dualism”• Harmony of opposing powers/dimensions – yin and yang 阴阳 , in and out 内外 , heaven and earth 天 地 – Tang Junyi: inseparability of the one and the many 一多不 分观 – Harmony of the whole rather than logical hierarchy• Rejection of dilemmas – Appearance is reality – mind (xin 心 ) and body (shen 身 ) – Matter and spirit = qi 气• No reductionism – All things are interrelated – “Essence” of thing is constituted by relations – No “substances” – nothing is “in-itself”
  8. 8. More characteristics• No determinism, but dispositions: Tang Junyi non-fixed “destiny” 无定命观• Focus on taking advantage of the chances opening up in the flow of things, 势, 时中• Way 道 instead of truth• Right thinking instead of the right to think• Strong (holy?) social awareness – ren 仁 , renjia 人家 , shehui 社会 , xiao 孝 , li 礼
  9. 9. Some potential consequences• More flexibility – less exactitute (e.g. Lin Yutang)?• Scientific holism – negligence of natural laws?• Focus on circumstances rather than rules and principles – can rules be broken if no one finds out?• Focus on the present/serenity – carelessness/lack of responsibility?• Focus on skill – opportunism?• Social holism – individual sacrificed for the whole?• Family orientation – corruption/lack of care for strangers?
  10. 10. Philosophy or religion?• Again: rejection of dilemmas• “The question “is Confucianism a religion?” is a question that Westerners could never answer and the Chinese could never ask” Wilfred Cantwell Smith
  11. 11. Some characteristics of Chinese religion (and philosophy?)• No (or vague) transcendence• inseparability of “heaven” and “earth” 天地• Gods are not omnipotent – shang di 上帝 – first/supreme?• Gods are not chronologically prior to world – no creation myth, cf. Daodejing 25• Focus on interhuman relations rather than relations with gods – Analects, 11.12.• Distant respect for gods, not love for them – Analects, 6.22
  12. 12. Harmony of heaven (nature) and human being 天人合一
  13. 13. Ancient philosophy schools• Confucianism (rujia 儒家 ): 6th c. BCE• Daoism (daojia 道家 ): 6th c. BCE• Legalism (fajia 法家 ): 5th c. BCE• Mohism (mojia 墨家 ): 5th c. BCE• Logicians (mingjia 名家 ): 5th c. BCE• Buddhism (fojiao 佛家 ): 1st c. CE
  14. 14. Later schools:• Neo-Confucianism • New Confucianism (songming rujia 宋明 (xin rujia 新儒家 ): 儒家 ): 10th-19th 19th-21st century century

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