Topic: Non-Deductive Argumentation in Classical Chinese Philosophy
Prof. Paul Goldin, Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations (EALC), University of Pennsylvania
Date: 12 October 2015, MondayTime: 4:30 – 6:30 pmVenue: Room 220, Fung King Hey Building
Abstract: One longstanding criticism of Chinese thought is that is not truly “philosophical” because it lacks viable protocols of argumentation. Thus it qualifies at best as “wisdom”; Confucius, for example, might provide valuable guidance, or thoughtful epigrams to ponder, but nothing in the way of formal reasoning that would permit his audience to reconstruct and reconsider his arguments in any conceivable context.
This criticism stands only if one accepts the premise that all argumentation must be deductive argumentation, for the most famous Chinese arguments tend to be non-deductive in nature. (This claim does not require any unusual definition of “deduction”; the Aristotelian definition is as good as any.) This paper will survey the types of non-deductive argumentation commonly found in Chinese philosophy. One of the most prolific types of non-deductive argumentation is appeal to example, and this, I contend, is the basis of the strong interest in anecdotes as a genre of philosophical literature from the Springs and Autumns at least through the Six Dynasties.
There are important examples of deductive argumentation as well, which will be briefly reviewed.
Whether these observations are sufficient to rescue Chinese thought from the wilderness of “wisdom” and enshrine it in the halls of “philosophy” will be left for the reader to decide, but a conception of “philosophy” that can account for Chinese thought is naturally more interesting than one that cannot.
Topic: Zhuangzi’s Idea of Wei-yi為一 (Being One) with Focus on the Debate on the Happiness of a Fish Speaker: Fung
Yiu-ming, Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, the Chinese University of Hong Kong Date: 9 October 2015, FridayTime: 4:30 – 6:30 pmVenue: Room 206, Lee Shau Kee Building
Some interpreters think that Zhuangzi’s argument in his debate with Hui Shi on the happiness of a fish is slippery; some other think that Zhuangzi provides a convincing argument of self-refuting to reject Hui Shi’s view and thus to prove that he does know the happiness of a fish. In contrast, in this article, I want to demonstrate that Zhuangzi’s argument is aiming at the deconstruction of the thesis of the inaccessibility of other minds which is presupposed in Hui Shi’s view.
In addition, I think, through the debate, Zhuangzi is trying to go beyond the epistemic approach in the sense that his idea of “knowing” as a special kind of mental state is essentially different from that of “knowing” in terms of cognition. This idea is closely related to his ideas of “wei-yi,” “hun-dun,” “nothing,” and “dao.” Moreover, in this article, I want to criticize Graham’s view about his assimilation of Zhuangzi’s “wei-yi” to Hui Shi’s “yi-ti” and to demonstrate that Zhuangzi’s vision of wei-yi is entertained by one who has zhen-zhi which cannot be appreciated by Hui Shi’s epistemic approach.
Topic: Intellectual Seemings Are Methodologically Irrelevant
Prof. Max Deutsch, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Hong Kong
Date: 21 September 2015, MondayTime: 4:30 – 6:30 pmVenue: Room 220, Fung King Hey Building
Abstract: Some philosophical methodologists claim that intuitions are "intellectual seemings" and that conceiving them as such makes the view that intuitions are treated as evidence in philosophy more palatable. I will argue in this talk that there are no good reasons to believe in intellectual seemings, and that, even if they existed, they would be methodologically irrelevant.