The Mutual Cultivation of Self and Things: A Contemporary Chinese Philosophy of the Meaning of Being

The Mutual Cultivation of Self and Things: A Contemporary Chinese Philosophy of the Meaning of Being

The Mutual Cultivation of Self and Things: A Contemporary Chinese Philosophy of the Meaning of Being

The Mutual Cultivation of Self and Things: A Contemporary Chinese Philosophy of the Meaning of Being

Synopsis

Yang Guorong is one of the most prominent Chinese philosophers working today and is best known for using the full range of Chinese philosophical resources in connection with the thought of Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Heidegger. In The Mutual Cultivation of Self and Things, Yang grapples with the philosophical problem of how the complexly interwoven nature of things and being relates to human nature, values, affairs, and facts, and ultimately creates a world of meaning. Yang outlines how humans might live more fully integrated lives on philosophical, religious, cultural, aesthetic, and material planes. This first English translation introduces current, influential work from China to readers worldwide.

Excerpt

Yang guorong is one of the most creative and prominent Chinese philosophers of our time. He is a truly “Chinese” philosopher not because of his citizenship, ethnicity, or workplace, but because of the nature of his work. Yang makes ample use of the complete range of sources provided by the Chinese philosophical tradition, including all its periods and all its schools (in addition to his reliance on the Western philosophical canon). Thus to call him, for example, a “Confucian” would not do justice to the breadth of his approach. More important, however, Yang is also truly a “philosopher,” because he does not only study the history of philosophy or engage in specialized debates within the academic discipline of philosophy but has developed his own comprehensive philosophical system.

The core of his philosophical work is an outline of his “Concrete Metaphysics” (juti de xingshangxue) published in three volumes in 2011: A Treatise on Dao (Dao lun), Ethics and Being: Treatise on Moral Philosophy (Lunli yu cunzai: daode zhexue yanjiu), and the present The Mutual Cultivation of Self and Things (Chengji yu chengwu: yiyi shijie de shengcheng). Taken together, these books present an elaborated and encompassing philosophy, addressing perennial ontological, epistemological, and ethical questions. Yang thereby follows the trend of major twentieth-century Chinese thinkers who tried to renew the Chinese philosophical tradition of Neo-Confucianism and its efforts to merge Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism into an overarching whole while at the same time incorporating the metaphysical, historical, and existential approaches of modern Western systemic philosophy as represented by authors like Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger. in short, Yang’s project establishes a unifying “grand philosophy” by combining traditional Chinese and Western conceptualizations into a systematic synthesis expressed in contemporary language.

Yang’s philosophy is called a “metaphysics” for two major reasons. First, he thereby connects with the systematic methodology of Western philosophy beginning . . .

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