Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China

By A. C. Graham | Go to book overview

II
FROM SOCIAL TO METAPHYSICAL CRISIS: HEAVEN PARTS FROM MAN

The trends which we have so far considered may be seen as responses not to philosophical but to social crisis, Confucians from the old knightly class trying to renovate the old order, Mohists entering it from the crafts formulating a programme for the new, hermits disillusioned with politics experimenting with a social Utopia or developing a rationale for withdrawal to private life. Already however the sharpening of controversy has generated Sophists fascinated by logical puzzles, and Sung Hsing has been moved by the problems of converting rulers to attend to the inside of man.

Towards the end of the 4th century B.C. we begin to find ourselves in a quite different intellectual climate. The Confucians, who had seemed incapable of debating any issue more momentous than "Did Kuan Chung understand ceremony?", are now obsessed by the question whether human nature is morally good, or a mixture of good and bad, or neutral, or good in some but bad in others. The Mohists, who had been content to judge a heterogeneous mixture of moral and political issues by a utilitarian rule-of-thumb, are using the tools of the Sophists to build a utilitarian ethical system which will be logically impregnable. Chuang-tzu, who seems to have begun as a Yangist with the simple aim of protecting his own life, is seeking a view of man's place in the cosmos which will reconcile him to death. At the back of all three is a profound metaphysical doubt, as to whether Heaven is after all on the side of human morality. Mencius as a Confucian tries to dissolve it by confirming that the nature with which we have been generated by Heaven is indeed morally good; the Later Mohists escape it by shifting the justification of morality from appeal to Heaven's Intent to a priori demonstration; Chuang-tzu welcomes it, and throws away all conventional conceptions of the good for an ecstatic surrender to the spontaneity which irradiates us from Heaven.

The dichotomy of Heaven and man is one of the constants of Chinese thought. Whatever is within the control of deliberate action derives from man, whatever comes from outside it derives from Heaven.

"'What is it you call "Heaven", what is it you call "man"?'

-107-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 508

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.