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Chinese philosophy Essay

??. Introduction A. Thesis There are so many different philosophies and religions, and they greatly influence people’s life. In this paper, I am going to introduce and define the representatives of the Western philosophy such as Plato’s metaphysical Dualism and Chinese philosophy like Daoism. And I am going to compare these philosophies and explain the difference between them. ?. Dualism A. Explain Plato’s metaphysical Dualism Plato’s Dualism divided the reality into two different realms of existence (World of the Senses and World of the Forms).

One world (the physical world) is constantly changing, and another world (the world of the Forms) is unchanging. Plato further divided these two different realms of existence. The world of Forms can be divided into the higher world (realm of the form) and the lower world (the Empirical world). The world of senses can be divided into physical objects (ordinary objects we perceive) and images (shadows, reflections and pictures). B. Summary of Allegory of Cave Plato explained his metaphysical dualism by using the Allegory of a cave.

According to Marc Cohen: In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects that pass behind them.

What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. However, one day one of them is released from what keeps them the guy sitting, and they look back. At that time, the guy realizes that there are objects and the fire behind people and someone moves the objects. The shadow people have seen is a fake. People who are still sitting have never seen the objects behind them, so they believe that the shadow is real. The guy is free to move, so he starts to run to the exit of the cave.

After getting out of the cave, the guy feels dizzy because the world out of the cave is too shiny. After a while, his eyes got used to the brightness and the beautiful world like the mountain, the sky, the river, or the sun is in the eyes of the guy. And then he realizes that the world out of the cave is real. He goes back to the cave and tells people who are still sitting in the cave what he saw out of the cave. However, they do not believe that what the guy told is the truth. C. Interpretation of the Allegory.

By using this Allegory, we can think about today’s world. There are too much in formation in the world, and the world seems to be narrower than before. Especially the appearance of mass media like newspaper, television, magazine, Internet, or SNS changed how we deal with information. Too much information is created and flows every day, and we can get the information you need any time by the device like a smart phone, a PC or a tablet. However, is the information you can get really the reality?

The information created by mass media might be like the shadow in a cave. Before I was born, there was already too much information. I learned much information like Japanese history in a school, and I also know the new information of the incidence that occurs every day at the same time through mass media. So I learned most of things that occurred around the world through the information created by mass media, and the information is like a shadow in Allegory of a Cave. Suppose that an internal warfare is happening in one country.

We know about that through mass media. We might see suffers in a TV or in a photo. We feel like understand everything about the war through the picture on TV or words of the News, but that is not a whole thing but just part of that. We need to seek the reality by my own eyes today’s world. ?. Plato’s Legacy According to Philip, “Plato thought that the soul could and would exist apart from the body and would exist after the death of the body. He offered a “proof” for this position and was the first to do so in writing that we have any evidence of doing so.

He offered several different proofs or arguments none of which are convincing today”. His argument was that humans were composed of bodies and souls, but soul was more important and immortal. His arguments used premises that are questionable today. For example, Plato thought he could conclude that the soul could exist separating from the body because it worked independently from the body when it engaged in pure thought. But today, it is proved that how we think depends on the physical brain works. So this is no longer accepted as true.

Plato thought that they are remembering the knowledge implanted in their souls when the souls were in the realm of pure thought and eternal forms before entering into the body after which they forgot as they became confused by physical emotions and feelings and limited experiences through the senses. And that is the only way to explain how people come to know. This is no longer accepted as the best explanation of how people come to have knowledge. However, Plato is credited with being the first human to attempt to set out any sort of a proof that humans had souls and that they survived the death of the body and that they were immortal.

A. Descartes-Substance Dualism According to Philip, “Descartes also believed that the soul existed prior to and separate from the body, and it was immortal. In his view, all of reality consisted of two very different substances: matter or the physical and spirit or the non-physical. ” The physical was what would be extended in time and space and the non-physical would not be characterized. He thought that his famous claim that “I think therefore I am” established not just that he existed but that he existed without a body as a “thinking thing”.

A “thinking thing” is a thing that thinks and by that would be included: imagining, conceiving, hoping, dreaming, desiring, fearing, conjecturing, reasoning, remembering and more. For him a “thinking thing” needed no physical parts to do what it does. Modern science has established that there is no evidence of humans that are without a physical body and its brain. There is no evidence that thought is possible without a brain. There is much evidence that what has been associated with Descartes’ “thinking thing” is now explained solely in term of the brain and how the brain is physically structured and the functioning of the brain.

B. Aquinas According to the text, “Saint Thomas Aquinas is the philosopher who explained five ways to demonstrate the existence of the God within the framework of a posteriori (the knowledge comes from, or after the experience) and developed cosmological and teleological arguments. ” I am going to explain one of the demonstrations. The way is from the nature of efficient cause. In the world of sensible things, there is an order of efficient causes. It never happens that the thing is the efficient cause of itself.

If you look at one phenomenon, you can see many efficient causes behind it. But you cannot go back to infinity. There must be the first efficient cause. Aquinas claims that that is the God. The Aquinas’ claim is similar to Plato’s claim. He thought the God is the first efficient cause and independent one. That is close to the concept “the realm of the form” Plato claimed. And the things in the world of sensible things are the secondary things of the God. It is close to “the Empirical world” Plato claimed. ?. Chinese Natural Cosmology A. Ames `Image of Reason in Chinese Culture”

Ames claims the difference between the dominant conceptions of reality in the West and in the Chinese tradition in his “image of Reason in Chinese Culture”. According to the text, Ames claims that “to explore the Chinese philosophy, he thought you needed to recognize at least that you are dealing with a fundamentally different world if you are familiar with Western culture. To bring into relief certain features of the dominant Indo-European view and Chinese alternative to it, he constructs a “logical sense of order with an “aesthetic” order.

” What we call “logical” sense of order has developed Western philosophical and religious orthodoxy, and it is based on the presumption that there is something permanent, perfect, objective, and universal that disciplines the world of charge and guarantees natural and moral order-some originative and determinative arche, an eternal realm of Platonic edios or “ideas”, the One True God of the Judeo-Christian universe, a transcendental strongbox of invariable principles or laws, an annalistic method for discerning clear and distinct ideas.

In a single-order world, the One God is the initial beginning of the universe. The God is primal and unchanging principle that causes and explains that origin and issues everything from itself, and that is familiar and presupposition in Western tradition. Although the world is explained by “logical” order in Western tradition, however, there is no “logical” order in Chinese philosophy. The order of Chinese tradition is immanent in and inseparable from a spontaneously changing world. The universe possesses within itself its organizational principles and its own creative energy.

In the view of Chinese tradition, the world creates itself. That is scandalous from the view point of Western scholar reason. The yin and the yan come together and guide the infinite combination of these two opposite source of energy. These two sources of energy make a spontaneous intelligence possible. Yin and yan as the characterization of a particular relationship invariably entail a perception from some particular perspective that enables us to unravel patterns of relatedness and interpret our circumstances.

They provide a vocabulary for sorting out the relationship among things as they come together and constitute themselves in unique compositions. Ames also mentions the Chinese word “li”. In both classical Chinese corpus and modern language, the closest term that approximates “reason” or “principle”. He claims that identifying the meaning of the word “li” correctly is essential to understand Chinese philosophy. According to the text, “Philosophically, the most familiar uses of li lie somewhere in the cluster “reasoning” or “rationale” (A. S. Cua), “principle” (W.T. Chan), “organism” (J. Needham), and “coherence” (W. Peterson). ”

Among these several alternative translations used for “li”, although philosophically as protean as “principle” for Western tradition, unwarrantedly restrict li to a notion of human consciousness and tend to introduce distinction such as animate and inanimate, agency and act, intelligible and sensible. Li is much different from being some independent and immutable originative principle that disciplines a recalcitrant world. It is the fabric of order immanent in the dynamic process of experience.

That is why “psychology” is translated in to Chinese as “the li of the heart-and-mind,” but then “physics” is “the study of the li of things and events. ” What separates li rather clearly from Western common understanding of “principle” is that li is both a unity and a multiplicity. Li is the coherence of any “member of a set, all members of a set, or the set as a whole. ” Both the uniqueness of each particular and the continuities that obtain among them are reflected by this description. Li then is the defining character or ethos of a given community, or any other such composition.

Ames also claims another point at which li departs from “principle. ” In Western tradition, the discovery of originative and determinative principle gives us a schema for classifying things and subsuming one thing under another. That is why people seek “principle” in Western tradition. However, the investigation of li, by contrast, is to seek out patterns that relate things, and to discover resonances between things that make correlations and categorization possible. B. Hans-Gorg Moeller In Daodejing, the meaning of “the root” is described by using metaphor.

From the view of the Daoist, our world is a “self-generating” process. In Daoism there is no initial beginning for “logical” order. In Daoism, order is immanent in and inseparable from a spontaneously changing world, and then “the world creates itself. ” In this point of view, the role of “the root” is very important. “The root” is an origin of phenomenon, and many things are derived from “the root. ” Unlike many Western philosophical perspectives, this “root” has a somewhat unique, interesting, and different meaning in it. The Western philosophy’s principle or arche is the first cause of the event.

And nothing would exist if there were not any of the Western philosophy’s principle or arche. However, the concept of “the root” is different of that. From the Daoist perspective, “the root” is a part of the plant. “The root” does not exist before the plant although plant cannot exist if there is no “the root. ” That is, “the root” itself is not a creator of the plant. It is the origin of the growth of the plant. “The root” is buried in the soil or ground, so it is invisible. However, “the root” greatly influences its visible part.

This illustrates Daoist’s “autopoiesis,” self-generating concept well, which differs a lot from the Western philosophical concept “arche,” which is stated or recognized as “the God. ” ?. Comparative Epistemology A. Hellenistic-Prescriptive theoretical knowledge In Western tradition, most of philosophers think there is one principle or one God and things happen from it. And the mind is separable part from the body. One of the examples is Plato. Plato’s dualism is that there are the realm of form and the imperial world. The body belongs to the imperial world and the world is constantly changing.

And what we sense by the body is limited, and the Empirical world is not real. The true world is the realm of the form, and the mind belongs to the world. Plato argues that the “knowledge” continuously exists and must be justified conviction. However, the Empirical world that we belong to is contentiously changing, and there is no unchanging thing in the world. That is why there is no thing from which we can get “knowledge” in the Empirical world, so we cannot get “knowledge” by our own senses. The unchanging things exist in the realm of the form, and we cannot reach the world by using our senses.

So we need to use our mind to get “knowledge”. Not all of Western philosophers claim like that, but most of philosophers claim that the truth does not exist in the world where we live today. This concept greatly influences Christianity or other religions that have the one God. In Christianity, there is one God named “Jesus Christ”, and he is the reason why things happen or why we live. People pray to seek “knowledge” that exists in the world where we are not living. That is, we cannot get the “knowledge” about it in the world where we are living, and we need to get it from the other world to know the essence of the things.

B. Chinese philosophy-Prescriptive practical On the other hand, there is no the one God in Chinese philosophy. In China, the war occurred constantly, and Chinese dynasty changed over time, so people did not come to rely on one thing. This influenced the Chinese philosopher. Instead of one god or one principle, Chinese philosophers think that the world creates itself and that the world is constituted by the combination of determinacy and indeterminacy, and spontaneous, dynamic changing is the universal principle of the world. In Western tradition, the philosophers try to attribute many phenomenons to the one reason.

However, Chinese philosophers think that each thing is “self-so” creativity, self-generating, and spontaneous. For Chinese philosophy, the Nature is very important, and in Daoism it is important not to try to force thing. That is why there is the concepts in Daoism; wu wei(without intentional action), wu si(without deliberate thought), wu si(without selfish interesting), wu ji(without self-awareness), wu zhi(without knowledge), wu xin(without heart-and-mind). Daoists claim that when you are thinking something, the world is also changing at the same time, so you are missing something.

That is why it is important for Daoism to stop thinking by your head, get out of the world of your head, look around the world, and take action. The most important thing for Daoism is that we ought to take action as a part of the world. ?. Conclusion There have been so many philosophers through the history, and each of philosophy has been developed around the world. And how people think about the world is different, depending on the philosophy. Of many philosophies, the significant different philosophies are the Western and Chinese philosophy.

In the Western philosophy, the philosophers try to attribute everything to the one principle or the one God. On the other hand, there is no principle, and the philosophers have recognized the world as self-generating process, and the world is the source of itself without no exact start and end point. This thought influences religion and how people think about the world. Around the world, many wars related to religion occur today. The difference between the religions is just what ancient people developed, so it is important to try to understand the difference in today’s world.

Reference

Pecorino, Philip, Ph. D. “Chapter 6 : The Mind-Body Problem Section 3: DUALISM. ” Introduction To Philosophy an Online Textbook. Queensborough Community College, CUNY, n. d. Web. 4 Dec 2013. . Deutsch, Eliot. Introduction to World Philosophies. 1st ed. 509. New Jersey: A Pearson Education Company, 1997. Ex-255-256. Print. Deutsch, Eliot. Introduction to World Philosophies. 1st ed. 509. New Jersey: A Pearson Education Company, 1997. Ex-469. Print. Cohen, Marc. “The Allegory of the Cave. ” Philosophy 320 History of Ancient Philosophy. University of Washington, 07 11 2013. Web. 4 Dec 2013. .


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