A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical by Chad Hansen

By Chad Hansen

This formidable booklet offers a brand new interpretation of chinese language inspiration guided either via a philosopher's experience of puzzle and by means of a valid philosophical conception of which means. That twin objective, Hansen argues, calls for a unified translation conception. It needs to offer a unmarried coherent account of the problems that inspired either the lately untangled chinese language linguistic research and the customary moral-political disputes. Hansen's unified technique uncovers a philosophical sophistication in Daoism that conventional money owed have neglected.

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I shall note the weaknesses in Confucian arguments with emphasis and undisguised Daoist glee. The Meaning-Change Hypothesis A second metatheoretical feature of the ruling interpretation buttresses this isolated schools analysis. Standard accounts use meaning-change hypotheses promiscuously. Meaning-change hypotheses make the isolation of the schools from common concerns a matter of language. Each meaning-change hypothesis entails that the schools were talking about fundamentally different things.

I would like further to meet the ruling theory's valuation of transcendence head on. It is now commonplace both to recognize and appreciate the Daoist view of the unity of humanity and nature. Understanding ourselves as continuous with nature, as animals in a natural ecological brotherhood, is currently fashionable enough to defy this medieval distaste for the natural man. The antitranscendence view is surely consistent with science—no doubt, still opposing Western religion on this issue. Plenty of room remains for religious awe in the mysteries and complexity of nature, the working of our marvelous minds and language.

Another source of this widespread view of Chinese comes from confusing our theories of dictionaries. The Western dictionary tradition flows out of our Euclidean and Platonic heritage. We assume the notion of a meaning that the definition should express. The Chinese dictionary tradition is more historical. It collects different historical examples of use and lists possible character (or phrase) substitutes in each use. It also gives a causal-historical theory of the character—a purported etymology and routinely a pictographic or ideographic analysis.

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