International Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 45, No. 4, December 2005

Article excerpt

Praxis of the Middle: Self and No-Self in Early Buddhism, JOHN W. M. KRUMMEL

This paper considers the controversy surrounding the Buddhist doctrine of ino-selfi (anatt, an, tman), and especially the question of whether the Buddha himself meant by it unequivocally the ontological denial of the self. The emergence of this doctrine is connected with the Buddha's attempt to forge a "middle way" that avoids the extreme views of "eternalism" in regards to the soul and "annihilationism" of the soul at bodily death. By looking at the earliest works of the Pli canon, three of the five Nikyas (Dogha, Majjhima, and Sayutta) along with later Abhidharmist developments, this discussion shows that its original intent was not explicitly ontological. The intent was more practical than theoretical, with the aim of bringing about a freedom from attachment to such theories as eternalism and annihilationism. The Buddha's "middle" position was hence a praxis toward freedom rather than a theoria about the existence or nonexistence of the self.

Religion and its Modern Fate: The Shaping of the Concept Between the West and China, THIERRY MEYNARD

"Religion" is usually thought of as a Western concept that has penetrated into China in the modern era. This paper, however, argues that the modern concept of religion was in fact shaped through the mutual exchange between the West and China. Three moments of this exchange are examined: (1) the late-Ming and early-Qing periods, when Western missionaries discovered in China a reality that compelled them to invent the term of "civil religion"; (2) the Enlightenment in Europe, which seized and transformed the new concept; finally, (3) the end of Qing dynasty and Republican era in China, when the concept of religion was reintroduced. This historical enquiry may help us to examine critically the boundaries usually fixed between the secular and the religious.

Cultural Crossings Against Ethnocentric Currents: Toward a Confucian Ethics of Communicative Virtues, SOR-HOON TAN

Despite contemporary Confucianism's aspirations to be a world philosophy, there is an ethnocentric strand within the Confucian tradition, most glaringly exemplified in Han Yu's attacks on Buddhism. This paper reassesses Confucian ethnocentrism in the context of contrary practices that indicate a more pragmatic attitude among Confucians toward cross-cultural interactions. It argues that while the ethnocentric tendency serves as constant reminder of the need for vigilance and for recognition of the difficulties of crossing cultural boundaries, there are nevertheless resources within Confucianism for constructing an ethics of communication that is urgently needed to deal with the moral problems of cultural pluralism. The paper analyzes the role of various common Confucian virtues such as ren (benevolence, cohumanity), yi (appropriateness), li (ritual), and zhi (wisdom) in communication, and it argues that a virtue of flexibility is implicit in Confucius's insistence of bugu, and could contribute significantly to a Confucian ethics of communicative virtues.

Real Apprehension in Newman's "An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent", R. MICHAEL OLSON

In An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, John Henry Newman articulates his fundamental philosophical orientation by giving priority to real apprehension over notional apprehension. He distinguishes between the two by saying that notional apprehension has to do with things internal to the mind and admits of exactness and clarity, whereas real apprehension has to do with things external to the mind and does not admit of the same degree of clarity and exactness. …