A Critical History of Classical Chinese Philosophy

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  • Author: He Zhaowu;
  • Language: English
  • Format: Papercover
  • Page: 309
  • Publication Date: 09/2009
  • ISBN: 9787510405372
  • Publisher: New World Press
Philosophical ideas of different schools such as Confucian, Taoist, Legalist, Mohist, Nominalist, Military Strategist, Yin and Yang, and Agriculturist in periods prior to the Qin Dynasty (221-202 B.C) are expounded and analyzed against their times in the book. Advantages and disadvantages of different theoretical functions are also investigated from a critical perspective. In addition, the book presents the authors'personal views on the category of Chinese philosophy and the relations between traditional Chinese thoughts and modern sciences.
Table of Contents
Chapter One:Confucius and the Confucian School
Chapter Two:Mo Zi and the Mohist School
Chapter Three:The Mohist School and the Traditional Mode of Thinking
Chapter Four:The Hundred Schools(1)
Chapter Five:The Hundred Schools(2)
Chapter Six:Xun Zi
Chapter Seven:The Taoist School
Chapter Eight:The Legalists
Epilogue:The Traditional Mode of Thinking and Its Modernization
Sample Pages Preview
The“second test”of the Mohists.i.e."the senses of hearing and seeing ofthe common people"should be recognized as bringing some positive factors intotheir epistemological theory,because it afforded proper room for our experience,from which all our knowledge is derived。But when considered in synthesis withthe first and the third tests,its validity may appear to some extent less assured.Without doubt,all our knowledge comes from experience.But experience alonedoes not lead to knowledge.Experience provides only raw materials whichonly after a process of our mental manipulation can result in a definite form ofknowledge.Pure empiricism or knowledge through experience alone can neverbe tenable in any sense.Thus the second test of the Mohists had to resort to thefirst and the third tests for its availability and validity.The first test is whollya priori bv its very nature as shown above.The third test means that a truthshould be tested bv its political effects.Of course,the political effects are their"benefit to the country and the people."as the Mohists would claim.But whatexactly constitutes the“benefit to the country and the people”would dependafter all on how one would like to define or interpret it. Each person may havehis own view and his own interpretation.The Mohists have their own views onhappiness and on the value of human life,as stated in the foregoing paragraphs.Theirs is a peculiar kind of utilitarianism which can hardly be accepted by mostpeople.for it would benefit only those who share the same idea of happinessthat the Mohists did.If happiness be accepted as a common measure of thebenefit of any policy,then this idea of happiness should have to be common toall.But if every one has an idea of happiness in his own way,then purportingto use happiness as a common measure would come to nothing.Furthermore,ifone could be happy only with the provision that one must first have one's ideaof happiness converted and recast so as to match others',then it would rather bea matter of ideological remolding and reforming than a pursuit of happiness inthe ordinary sense.
We find in the Mohist doctrine a strange mixture of empiricism,asceticism,utilitarianism and transcendentalism in a fashion grotesque and impracticable,which went so far as to even approach the opposite of itself.These inherentshortcomings helped to explain why the Mohist school was so ephemeral andshort-lived.Its utilitarianism was pushed to such extremes as to throw out allthings that would not bring fOnh immediate and direct utility( man under such circumstances,where utility is carried to such an extreme,would not be a human being but a mere instrument that could hardly enioyhappiness in any sense.An end may perhaps justify means,but means cannever justify an end.A theory like the Mohists professed,when extended farenough,would turn to its own opposite.A truth overstated or overdone may ruminto absurdity.The Mohist teaching and practice would tend toward negatingprecisely the ultimate end which they emphatically professed to serve.Beesand ants toiling and moiling their whole life are mere instruments.and they canhardly be said of having any intrinsic value in their lives.But human life oughtt0 be otherwise;it has its inalienable value.intrinsic in and proper to itself.Itis not and ought not to be a mere means whose value exists simply and entirelyin its utility to serve some end.Otherwise.where does the difference betweena human being and an ant or bee respect to their morality as well as totheir nobility?For humans,we ought to assign a human use,and not treat themsimply as tools.Consider the bees and the ants laboring year in and year out forthe benefit of their communitY,far more dedicated,concen~ated and earnestthan human beings.never a moment for their individual enjoyment——is this thehighest perfection of the Mohist ideal? The appears.lacked a senseof any humanistic value which alone could constitute the core of human life.A human being is more than a means to some utilitarian end.He is an end inhimself and by himself.Man is an instrument only conditionally, by no meansan instrument alone.He has to labor in order to earn his living,but he is not amachine existing simply to earn that living.If he were only such then life would be worthless.In the last analysis.the highest state of lifc the Mohists preachedwould precisely reduce human beings to plain instruments.Such a utopia.oncerealized,would be a state in which all existed for one,while the one exists fornone,or rather a fascist regime in ancient dress.This is just where a demandof unconditional dedication would lead.Some persuasive talkers may say thatthe value of life exists in wholehearted consecration。Perhaps so. But this cannever be unconditional,that is a man cannot and should not consecrate everything of his.
A Critical History of Classical Chinese Philosophy