Thursday, August 4, 2011

Welcoming a New Member of the Blog Community: Hinges of Dao

Carl, a long-time friend and avid correspondent, has joined the blogosphere.  He is a scholar of Chinese Philosophy in particular and East Asian in general, esp. Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, as well as a pluralistic background in historic and contemporary philosophy East and West.

1 comment:

  1. Jason, thanks for the introduction, as well as for linking to the blog. I should warn readers, it's still in the delicate nascent stages of development. The early stages of any endeavor are important, as the DDJ suggests, and the more attention we pay to things when they are small, the more we can avoid watch our efforts grow to success and fruition.

    At the moment I'm concerned about issues of language, and the manner in which post 1960's linguistic pragmatism shaped the interpretation of classical Chinese thought and in particular its influence on Daoism. The appeal to linguistic pragmatism is a definite advance over viewing classic texts purely in terms of propositional statements, a strategy that renders most texts as fragmented collections of aphorisms or vignettes. Linguistic pragmatism provides a means to view these texts in terms of intelligent debate, with authors being clearly aware of the manner in which language is being used to make various points.

    However, the models of interpretation that have gained the most influence in this area are not without problem. Perhaps somewhat ironically, linguistic pragmatism saved Daoism from naive mysticism only to relegate it to strong relativism. Contrary to this, I do see positive ideals expressed in the texts. These ideals are perhaps best described as proscriptions of moral psychology, in which ethical attitudes are taken towards the problems of the senses, the condition of the heart-mind, and the manner in which we orient ourselves to language and desires.

    In this manner Daoist texts walk a narrow line between insisting on respecting the dynamic particularities of particular situations while at the same time advocating ideals that allow for the better handling of any situation. But then again, this is the whole point of a "way" of moral activity instead of a "what" of moral activity.