Monday, September 22, 2008

Hong Zicheng

Hong Zicheng was a Chinese philosopher who lived during the end of Ming Dynasty. He is often quoted in the contexts of chess and vegetarianism. He wrote ''Vegetable Roots Discourse: Wisdom From Ming China on Life and Living: Caigentan''.

Hao Wang (academic)

Wang Hao, also Hao Wang was a Chinese American logician, philosopher and mathematician.

Born in Jinan, Shandong, in the Republic of China , Wang received his early education in China. After obtaining a B.Sc. degree in Mathematics from the National Southwestern Associated University in 1943 and an M.A. in Philosophy from Tsinghua University in 1945, he went to the United States for further graduate studies. He studied logic at Harvard University, culminating in a Ph.D. in 1948. He was appointed to an assistant professorship at Harvard the same year.

During the early 1950s, Wang studied with Paul Bernays in Zurich. In 1956, he was appointed Reader in the Philosophy of Mathematics at Oxford University, and in 1961, he was appointed Gordon MacKay Professor of Mathematical Logic and Applied Mathematics at Harvard. From 1967 until 1991, he headed the logic research group at Rockefeller University in New York City, where he was professor of logic. In 1972, Wang joined in a group of Chinese American scientists led by Chih-Kung Jen as the first such delegation from the U.S. to the People's Republic of China.

One of the most important contributions of Wang was the invention of Wang tiles. He showed that any Turing machine can be turned into a set of Wang tiles. The first noted example of aperiodic tiling is a set of Wang tiles, whose nonexistence Wang had once conjectured, discovered by Robert Berger in 1966. He also chronicled Kurt G?del's philosophical ideas and authored several books on the subject.

Guo Xiang

Guo Xiang , is credited with the first and most important revision of the text known as the Zhuangzi which, along with the Laozi, forms the textual and philosophical basis of the school of thought.

The Guo Xiang redaction of the text revised a fifty-two chapter original by removing material he thought was superstitious and generally not of philosophical interest to his literati sensibilities, resulting in a thirty-three chapter total. He appended a philosophical commentary to the text that became famous, and within four centuries his shorter and snappier expurgated recension became the only one known.

This ''Zhuangzi'' recension is traditionally divided into three sections: ‘Inner Chapters’ , ‘Outer Chapters’ , ‘Miscellaneous Chapters’ . This division is quite old and is likely to have been part of the original recension.

Guo's redaction focuses on his understanding of Zhuangzi's philosophy of spontaneity . This practiced spontaneity is demonstrated by the story of Cook Ding, rendered as Cook Ting in the Burton Watson translation :

Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord . At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee, zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to tile Ching-shou Music.

"Ah, this is marvelous!" said Lord Wen-hui. "Imagine skill reaching such heights!"

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, "What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now I go at it by spirit and don't look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint."

"A good cook changes his knife once a year, because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month, because he hacks. I've had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I've cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there's plenty of room, more than enough for the blade to play about it. That's why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.
Chapter 3 - The Secret of Caring for Life

Here, the careful yet effortlessly spontaneous way in which Cook Ding is described cutting up the ox is both an example of the cognitive state of mind Zhuangzi associated with the Dao and the assertion that this state is accessible in everyday life.


, a Russian TV Company has used a modified image of Guo Xiang's head as their logo.

References and External links

* , translated by Burton Watson

Gu Zhun

Gu Zhun 顾准 (1915-1974) was an intellectual, economist and pioneer of post-Marxist Chinese liberalism. A victim of "anti-Rightist" purges he spent his later life in prisons and reeducation centres.

The recovery and publication of Gu's prison diaries and theoretical writings caused a sensation in intellectual circles when published in the mid 1990s. Having spent his life as a highly trained economist with Marxist convictions and heroic career as a revolutionary, his fall from grace and savage punishment led him to develop an authentic and deeply personal conversion to the values of liberal democracy. Cut off from the mainstream of 20th century Western thought, he in a sense "reinvented the wheel" of liberal theory. While certain critics have disparaged his ideas as "laughable if translated into English," from a Chinese liberal perspective he represents a rare case of authentic invention of liberalism, relatively free of suspect foreign influences.

Gu was an accountancy expert in his youth, joining the underground Communist Party in Shanghai in the late 1930s, and later appointed to leading roles in the post-Liberation Shanghai tax administration. However, having given outspoken and unwelcome advice to senior cadres, he was in 1952 charged with counter-revolutionary tendencies, demoted and sentenced to "remoulding."

In each of the succeeding cycles of Leftist-inspired purges Gu's "Rightist" label was reimposed and his punishments renewed. Rehabilitated in a brief period of political relaxation in the early 1960s, he was rescued from his pariah status by the economist Sun Yefang, with whom he had been associated in the Shanghai underground movement. Sun arranged a research position for Gu in the Institute of Economics of the Philosophy and Social Science Section .
*Luo Yinsheng, ''Gu Zhun huazhuan'' , Beijing Tuanjie chubanshe 2005 (罗银胜, 《顾准画传》, 北京:团结出版社).
*''Gu Zhun quanji'' , Guiyang: Guizhou People's Press, 1994 ( 。
*Gu Zhun riji , Beijing Jingji ribao chubanshe 1997 (《顾准日记》,北京:经济日报出版社,1997
*《希腊城邦制度》"The city-state Constitution of Greece" (written 1974? Published by Chinese Social Science Press 1982)
*Translation: Joseph Schumpeter,''Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy''(Commercial Press 1979)

Gongsun Long

Gongsun Long was a member of the Logicians school of ancient Chinese philosophy. He also ran a school and enjoyed the support of rulers, and supported peaceful means of resolving disputes in contrast to the wars which were common in the period . However, little is known about the particulars of his life, and furthermore many of his writings have been lost. All of his essays, fourteen originally but only six still extant, are included in the book Gongsun Longzi .

He is best known for a series of paradoxes in the tradition of Hui Shi, including "White horses are not horses," "When no thing is not the pointed-out, to point out is not to point out," and "There is no 1 in 2."

White Horse Dialogue

In the ''White Horse Dialogue'' , one interlocutor defends the truth of the statement "White horses are not horses," while the other interlocutor disputes the truth of this statement. The argument plays upon an ambiguity in Chinese . The expression "X is not Y" can mean either
#"X is not a member of set Y"
#"X is not identical with Y"
"Whales are not mammals" and "You are not a philosopher" are examples of the former use of "is not." An example of the second use of "is not" is "Jimmy Olsen is not Superman." Normally, in Chinese and English, it is clear from context which sense is intended, so we do not notice the ambiguity. So the sentence "White horses are not horses" would normally be taken to assert the obviously false claim that white horses are not part of the group of horses. However, the "sophist" in the ''White Horse Dialogue'' defends the statement under the interpretation, "White horses are not identical with horses." The latter statement is actually true, since "horses" includes horses that are white, yellow, brown, etc., while "white horses" includes only white horses, and excludes the others.

This work has been viewed by some as a serious logical discourse, by others as a facetious work of sophistry, and finally by some as a combination of the two.

Other works

*跡府 "Storehouse of Traces"


Gaozi , or Gao Buhai , was a Chinese philosopher during the Warring States Period.
Gaozi's teachings are no longer extant, but he was a contemporary of Mencius , and most of our knowledge about him comes from the ''Mencius'' book titled "Gaozi".

Warring States philosophers disputed whether human nature is originally good or evil , see Graham and Chan . The "Gaozi" chapter begins with a famous metaphor about a type of willow tree (''qiliu'' .
The philosopher said, 'Man's nature is like the -willow, and righteousness is like a cup or a bowl. The fashioning benevolence and righteousness out of man's nature is like the making cups and bowls from the -willow.'

Mencius replied, 'Can you, leaving untouched the nature of the willow, make with it cups and bowls? You must do violence and injury to the willow, before you can make cups and bowls with it. If you must do violence and injury to the willow in order to make cups and bowls with it, on your principles you must in the same way do violence and injury to humanity in order to fashion from it benevolence and righteousness! Your words, alas! would certainly lead all men on to reckon benevolence and righteousness to be calamities.'

The philosopher said, 'Man's nature is like water whirling round in a corner. Open a passage for it to the east, and it will flow to the east; open a passage for it to the west, and it will flow to the west. Man's nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as the water is indifferent to the east and west.'

Mencius replied, 'Water indeed will flow indifferently to the east or west, but will it flow indifferently up or down? The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards. There are none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows downwards. Now by striking water and causing it to leap up, you may make it go over your forehead, and, by damming and leading it you may force it up a hill - but are such movements according to the nature of water? It is the force applied which causes them. When men are made to do what is not good, their nature is dealt with in this way.'

Feng Youlan

Feng Youlan or Fung Yu-Lan was a Chinese philosopher who was important for reintroducing the study of Chinese philosophy.

Early life, education, & career

Feng Youlan was born on 4 December 1895 in Tanghe County, Nanyang, Henan, China, to a middle-class family. He studied philosophy at Shanghai University, then at Beijing University where he was able study Western philosophy and logic as well as Chinese philosophy.

Upon his graduation in 1918 he travelled to the United States, where he studied at Columbia University on a Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship. There he met, among many philosophers who were to influence his thought and career, John Dewey, the , who became his teacher. Feng gained his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1925, though he spent the last two years working on his thesis back in China.

He went on to teach at a number of Chinese universities (including , , and . It was while at Tsinghua that Fung published what was to be his best-known and most influential work, his ''History of Chinese Philosophy'' . In it he presented and examined the history of Chinese philosophy from a viewpoint which was very much influenced by the Western philosophical fashions prevalent at the time, which resulted in what Peter J. King of Oxford describes as a distinctly tinge to most of the philosophers he described. Nevertheless, the book became the standard work in its field, and had a huge effect in reigniting an interest in Chinese thought.

In 1939, Feng brought out his ''Xin Lixue'' . Lixue was a philosophical position of a small group of ; Feng's book took certain metaphysical notions from their thought and from taoism (such as li and tao, analysed and developed them in ways that owed much to the Western philosophical tradition, and produced a rationalistic neo-Confucian metaphysics. He also developed, in the same way, an account of the nature of morality and of the structure of human moral development.

War and upheaval

When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, the students and staff of Beiping's Qinghua and Peking Universities, together with Tianjin's University, fled their campuses. They went first to Hengshan, where they set up the Changsha Temporary University, and then to Kunming, where they set up Southwest Associated University.
When, in 1946 the three Universities returned to Beijing, Feng instead went to the U.S. again, this time to take up a post as visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania He spent the year 1948-1949 as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii.

While he was at Pennsylvania, news from China made it clear that the were on their way to seizing power. Feng's friends tried to pesuade him to stay, but he was determined to return; his political views were broadly , and he thus felt optimistic about China's future under its new government.

Once back home, Feng began to study Marxist-Leninist thought, but he soon found that the political situation fell short of his hopes; by the mid-1950s his philosophical approach was being attacked by the authorities. He was forced to repudiate much of his earlier work, and to rewrite the rest – including his ''History'' – in order to fit in with the ideas of the Cultural revolution.

Despite all this, Feng refused to leave China, and after enduring much hardship he finally saw a relaxation of censorship, and was able to write with a certain degree of freedom. He died on 26 November 1990 in Beijing.

Feng Youlan continues to be known mostly for his ''History of Chinese Philosophy'', which is still in print, but he was in fact an original and influential philosopher in his own right, deserving of greater attention.


Monographs & collections of essays

*1934: ''A History of Chinese Philosophy''
**1983: translated by Derk Bodde ISBN 0-691-02021-3
**1948: ''A Short History of Chinese Philosophy'' — reprinted 1997: Free Press ISBN 0-684-83634-3
*1939: ''Xin Li-xue''
**1997''A New Treatise on the Methodology of Metaphysics'' ISBN 7-119-01947-3
*''Selected Philosophical Writings of Fung Yu-lan'' ISBN 7-119-01063-8
*''Xin yuan ren'' (''A New Treeatise on the Nature of Man''
*1946: ''Xin zhi yan'' (
*1947: ''The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy'' transl. E.R. Hughes
**1970: ISBN 0-8371-2816-1
*1961: ''Xin yuan dao''

As translator

* 1991: ''A Taoist Classic: '' ISBN 7-119-00104-3


* 2004: Peter J. King ''One Hundred Philosophers'' ISBN 1-84092-462-4
* 2001: Francis Soo “Contemporary Chinese Philosophy”, in Brian Carr & Indira Mahalingam [edd] ''Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy'' ISBN 0-415-24038-7