Chinese metaphysics challenges the Greek paradigm of metaphysical dualism with naturalistic metaphysics. They argued that harmonious relationships in society and tolerance for change were the essentials of life, instead of the belief that you must separate your body and mind. Socrates and Plato laid out most of the foundation for Greek philosophy, but in Chinese metaphysics, Confucius and Laozi are the main front runners.
Chinese metaphysics takes root in Confucius’s work, Analects. In this work he described the four central virtues: ren, yi, li, and zhi. These stand for co-humanity, appropriate conduct, ritual propriety, and wisdom, respectively. Not only do these establish the harmonious relationships that naturalistic metaphysics builds on, but they also establish a way of life that examines individuals based on their character. Yi even allows for shades of grey because it can differ in many situations; with it being context sensitive, the most correct response is what the individual should attain for.
This is what leads an individual in developing character in their natural relationships. Laozi, the credited founder of Daoism, pioneered Chinese cosmology and acknowledged the “Dao” as the source and ideal of all existence. He believed that humans were manifestations of the Dao, and that immoral acts upset the natural balance of the Dao. He is often given credit for the Daodejing, translated to mean primodial, however scholars argue that there are multiple authors to the text.
This text has a central concept named wu wei, which literally means “do nothing.” This explains harmony with the Dao, ziran. This leads Laozi to emphasize simplicity and humility, instead of selfish actions.
Chinese metaphysics really takes a deeper look into the relationships of individuals with their families and how their character affects the decisions they make. Greek philosophy leaves these fundamentals on the back burner, and instead looks at the separation of mind and body.
Courtney from Study Moose
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