Papers on Philosophy III

Daoism
Thursday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 5

  • Antoaneta Nikolova, “Naming the Changeability”
  • Richard J. Sage, “Concepts of ‘Time’ and ‘Change’ in the Liezi
  • Yuhan Gao, “The Unification of ‘Wu wei zhi li (The Force of Inexertion)’ and ‘Zi er zhi li (The Force of Nature).’ A Study of the Dao-Thing Relationship in Jiang Zhou yishu lun jiayi ji 講周易疏論家義記”
  • Dinu Luca, “Ghosts of Sinology Past: On Abel-Rémusat’s Laozi

Antoaneta Nikolova, “Naming the Changeability”

The aim of the paper is to debate the Daoist “philosophy of language.” It is based on the presumption that Chinese philosophy and especially Daoism is a philosophy of dynamism that regards the world as changeable, variable, volatile, and fluid. Therefore, one of the important questions of this philosophy is the question of name and naming. How naming, which is a kind of fixation, could grasp the fluidity of reality? In order to understand the Daoist vision of naming and the way in which daoists resolved the issue of naming the changeability, I discuss the concepts of dao and ming and their relation in the opening paragraph of Daodejing. I argue that its usual interpretation in terms that are close to the ideas of apophatism needs revision.

Richard J. Sage, “Concepts of ‘Time’ and ‘Change’ in the Liezi

Specific concepts of “time” and its immediate derivatives are neither independently, nor in fact explicitly, discussed within the Liezi. Instead, they are always embedded in overarching clusters of key themes that dominate the entire work. The most important of these are: (1) the Liezi’s general idea of cosmogony, cosmology and evolution; (2) the omnipresent notion of “change;” and (3) the lifetime and fate of each individual being that is subject to the former concept clusters.
In this paper, I will discuss “time” on the background of these three themes and demonstrate how, for the Liezi, only the absolute timelessness that predates any existence constitutes an unchanging concept that pertains the realms of non-being as well as, albeit only latently, that of being.
Apart from this meontological principle, however, the attributes connected with “time” are subject to the same “change” that dominates every other existing and pre-existing entity mentioned in the Liezi.
Using a simplified model, one can say that each of the three major layers of existence that are discussed in the work—namely “pre-existence,” “cosmic existence,” and a being’s individual life—are characterised not only by a different notion but also a different movement of “time.”
According to the Liezi, the ultimate goal for the adept who fathomed these notions and their interconnection with the concept of “change,” is to gradually conquer this model by countering the specific movements associated with each layer of existence and thereby leave any concept of “time” behind.

Yuhan Gao, “The Unification of ‘Wu wei zhi li (The Force of Inexertion)’ and ‘Zi er zhi li (The Force of Nature)’. A Study of the Dao-Thing Relationship in Jiang Zhou yishu lun jiayi ji 講周易疏論家義記”

This article intends to define the text Jiang Zhou yishu lun jiayi ji 講周易疏論家義記 (The original text is preserved in Nara, Japan and has been emended by some Chinese scholars in recent years) as a successor of the neo-daoistic Xuanxue-tradition of Wang Bi and Guo Xiang and a transitional work among the exegeses in the period of the Six Dynasties by analysing its summary and transcendence of the metaphysical discussion of the Dao-Thing relationship in Wei-Jin Xuanxue, and examining its affinity with the ‘School of Double Mystery’ 重玄學, which matured later as a new tradition of daoistic exegeses in the early Tang Dynasty. Jiang Zhou Yi Shu Lun Jia Yi Ji has not only inherited from Xuanxue the problem consciousness of defining ‘Dao’ as the original basis of ‘the ten thousand things’ 萬物 and harmonising the tension between this creative force of ‘Dao’ and the nature and the ‘self-genesis’ 自生 of the things, but also introduced the methods of argument of the ‘School of Double Mystery,’ for example, the “double-elimination” 雙遣 and the “triple-procedure” 三番, and finally come to a conclusion close to the central proposition, namely “Nature is the basis, and Dao is only its trace” (自然為本,道為跡) of Cheng Xuanying, the central figure of the ‘School of Double Mystery.’

Dinu Luca, “Ghosts of Sinology Past: On Abel-Rémusat’s Laozi

The role played by Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat (1788–1832) in shaping the views of his contemporaries on things Chinese is well known. Humboldt, Hegel, Schelling, and Victor Cousin, inter alia, make (extended) reference to his work, with Hegel, for instance, building his famous paragraphs on Chinese philosophy and religion on Abel-Rémusat’s 1824 Mémoire sur la vie et les opinions de Lao-Tseu. While frequently invoked in many recent discussions about sinology, philosophy, and comparative studies, this particular text remains quite understudied. Apart from several articles and dissertations typically focusing on the more extravagant points in the Mémoire, scholarship seems to engage in little direct work on a piece that “strangely dreamed into being” (Léon Rosny) Europe’s first “ghostly” Laozi (Cousin).
My contribution approaches the Mémoire from several different perspectives. First, by placing the text against Abel-Rémusat’s larger oeuvre and its context, I show how it shaped early European sinology in dialogue with the major intellectual developments of the time. Next, by concentrating on Rémusat’s reading strategies of the Daodejing and discussing the ways in which he used both primary and secondary texts, I tease out the specificity of what he himself calls his “doubly insufficient” translation. Lastly, I place this effort at “historical comparison” against Stanislas Julien’s 1842 renowned version of the same Laozi, sketching the main features of a philosophical/philological “parricide” that, with different names and under different guises, still informs perhaps much of what remains at stake regarding the role and meaning of translation today.

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Room 5
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Daoism