The Laws of Change: I ching and the Philosophy of Life

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Philosophy East and West Volume 55, Number 2, April 2005

Wang, Robin. Dong Zhongshu's Transformation of Yin-Yang Theory and Contesting of Gender Identity
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    • Dong, Zhongshu, 2nd cent. B.C.

    • Yin-yang.

    • Gender identity.


Dong Zhongshu (Tung Chung-shu) (179–104 B.C.E.) was the first prominent Confucian to integrate yin-yang theory into Confucianism. His constructive effort not only generates a new perspective on yin and yang, it also involves implications beyond its explicit contents. First, Dong changes the natural harmony of yin and yang to an imposed unity Second, he identifies yang with human nature (xing) and benevolence (ren), and yin with emotion (qing) and greed (tan). Taken together, these two novelties grant a philosophical basis for the theory and practice of gender inequality in their specifically Chinese manifestations. An analysis of Dong's work shows that the mere complementarity of yin and yang does not guarantee gender equality; they are not fixed categories, but together form a transformative dynamic harmony.

Loy, David R. Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue (review)
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Littlejohn, Ronnie, Recent Works on Confucius and the Analects
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Philosophy East and West
Volume 54, Number 4, October 2004

Tillman, Hoyt Cleveland.

  • Zhu Xi's Prayers to the Spirit of Confucius and Claim to the Transmission of the Way
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    • Zhu, Xi, 1130-1200.

    • Zhu, Xi, 1130-1200 -- Religion.

    • Confucianism -- Rituals.

    • Genealogy -- Religious aspects -- Confucianism.


What philosophical and historical insights might be gained by juxtaposing and linking two distinct areas of Zhu Xi's comments, those on guishen (conventionally glossed as ghosts or spirits) and those on the transmission and succession of the Way (daotong)? There is considerable evidence that he regarded canonical rites for ancestors and teachers as insufficiently satisfying, and thus he sought enhanced communion with the dead. His statements about spirits and especially his prayers to Confucius' spirit served to enhance his confidence that he had gained the transmission of Confucius' dao and that nothing being passed down to him had been lost. In the rituals and prayers to Confucius, Zhu Xi also projected himself as mediator between his students and Confucius' spirit. After hearing such prayers and participating in the ritual sacrifices, Zhu's students would become more convinced of his special status in the transmission of the Way. This inquiry into these spiritual and philosophical issues ultimately demonstrates the compelling importance of Zhu's practical concerns.

Xu, Weihe.

  • The Confucian Politics of Appearance -- and Its Impact on Chinese Humor
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    • Confucianism -- Customs and practices.

    • Chinese wit and humor.

    • Appearance (Philosophy)


It is argued here that ancient Chinese convictions-that appearances and truth, the outer and the inner, and everything else in the universe are correlated; that the outer can change the inner; and that the cosmos and human society are inherently hierarchical-gave rise to the Confucian politicization of appearance, and this culminated in the rites' stringent requirements of reverence and gravity from the traditional Chinese junzi (the morally and often socially superior man) during public appearances, thereby causing his humor to fade and vanish in public, thanks to an apparently natural antithesis between reverence/gravity and laughter/humor.

Nicholson, A. J.

  • The Cult of Nothingness: The Philosophers and the Buddha (review)
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    • Droit, Roger-Pol. Cult of nothingness: the philosophers and the Buddha.

    • Streight, David, tr.

    • Vohnson, Pamela, tr.

    • Buddhism -- Study and teaching -- Europe -- History -- 19th century.

Kopf, Gereon.

  • A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack (review)
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    • Loy, David, 1947- Buddhist history of the West: studies in lack.

    • Civilization, Western -- Psychological aspects.

Philosophy East and West
Volume 54, Number 3, July 2004

Olberding, Amy.

  • The Consummation of Sorrow: An Analysis of Confucius' Grief for Yan Hui
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    • Confucius. Lun yu.

    • Grief.


Throughout the Analects, Confucius describes the capacity for grief as an ethically valuable trait. Here his own display of grief at the premature death of his beloved student Yan Hui is investigated as a model of the meaning and significance of grief in a flourishing life. This display, it is argued, provides a valuable portrait, in situ, of the specific species of grief that Confucius sanctions and encourages. It likewise makes clear the role played by vulnerability to injury in the articulation of well-being and value.

Slingerland, Edward G. (Edward Gilman)

  • Conceptions of the Self in the Zhuangzi: Conceptual Metaphor Analysis and Comparative Thought
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    • Zhuangzi. Nanhua jing.

    • Self (Philosophy)


The purpose here is to explore metaphorical conceptions of the self in a fourth century B.C.E. Chinese text, the Zhuangzi, from the perspective of cognitive linguistics and the contemporary theory of metaphor. It is argued that the contemporary theory of metaphor provides scholars with an exciting new theoretical grounding for the study of comparative thought, as well as a concrete methodology for undertaking the comparative project. What is seen when the Zhuangzi is examined from the perspective of metaphor theory is that conceptions of the self portrayed in this text are based on a relatively small set of interrelated conceptual metaphors, and that the metaphysics built into the Zhuangzi's classical Chinese metaphors resonates strongly with the (mostly unconscious) metaphysical assumptions built into the metaphors of modern American English. This should not be surprising, considering the claims of contemporary cognitive linguists that the metaphoric schemas making up the foundation of human abstract conceptual life are not arbitrarily created ex nihilo, but rather emerge from common embodied experience and are conceptual, rather than merely linguistic, in nature.

Wong, Benjamin.
Loy, Hui-Chieh.

  • War and Ghosts in Mozi's Political Philosophy
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    • Mo, Di, fl. 400 B.C.

    • Political science -- Philosophy.

    • War (Philosophy)


It is argued here that Mozi's critique of warfare in the chapter "Against Offensive War" ("Fei gong") cannot be fully understood without the arguments presented in the chapter "Explaining Ghosts" ("Ming gui"). For Mozi, the problem of war can only be resolved if the existence of providential ghosts can be proven. But he indicates in his arguments concerning the existence of ghosts that it is doubtful whether such a condition can be met. Consequently, despite the apparently optimistic tenor of chapters such as "Imperial Love" ("Jian ai"), Mozi's political thought reveals an implicit understanding of the rational limits of resolving fundamental problems of injustice in the world.

Littlejohn, Ronnie, 1949-

  • Rationality and Religious Experience: The Continuing Relevance of the World's Spiritual Traditions (review)
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    • Rosemont, Henry, 1934- Rationality and religious experience: the continuing relevance of the world's spiritual traditions.

    • Religions.
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