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postgraduate thesis: Nature and value in early Chinese philosophy

TitleNature and value in early Chinese philosophy
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Fraser, CJ
Issue Date2018
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Saunders Jr, F. P.. (2018). Nature and value in early Chinese philosophy. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractMany Warring States (WS) philosophical texts are deeply committed to the idea that nature and human nature have much to teach us about what to value, how to live, and how to organize society. Similarly, some ethical and metaethical theorists today maintain that nature and human nature shape our ethical lives. The goal of this dissertation is to offer WS contributions to this ongoing, cross-cultural discussion by reconstructing WS views with the following question in mind: “What can nature teach us about how to live?” Reconstructing WS philosophical views with a specific question in mind requires that I first motivate the question itself as one to be asking the texts. To accomplish this, I will first offer a brief account of some of the key terms in the WS philosophical vocabulary. I will then discuss the core nature concepts utilized in these philosophies. This discussion establishes the possibility space for WS ethical views I will discuss in the chapters that follow. In chapter 3, I explore three prominent WS views on the relationship between nature and value. The chapter is divided into sections on the Mozi, Mengzi, and Xunzi. For each group’s moral philosophy, I discuss the role of nature concepts therein. The next three chapters of the dissertation reconstruct three views within the classical Daoist texts, Daodejing and Zhuangzi, each which speak directly to the question of what nature can teach us about how to live. Chapter 4 focuses on a view I will call primitivism found in the Laozi. This view rejects conventional, artificial WS political and ethical values in favor of a conception of society based in non-interference with people’s natural, spontaneous flourishing. Primitivism is especially apparent in Daodejing chapters 3, 18, 19, 25, 28, 32, 37, 57, 65, and 80. The view is a natural extension of the metaphysics and cosmology found in the Daodejing. Chapter 5 reconstructs the thought of the primitivist writings in the Zhuangzi. The general spirit of the project has deep affinities with the sections of Daodejing singled out in chapter 4, but with one fascinating development: a robust, normative conception of nature and human nature to serve as the project’s foundation. Chapter 6 reconstructs a view found primarily in books 1-7 of the Zhuangzi. The view holds that the myriad, naturally occurring ways of living do not admit of absolute normative rankings. There is no one best way to live given the irreducible diversity of nature and the ways of life found therein. However, we can apply a number of insights in light of these facts to our own way of being such that we may lead better lives. Chapter 7 briefly concludes with summaries of the WS views discussed and suggests some ways in which they may be developed in contemporary philosophical discussions.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectPhilosophy, Chinese
Nature
Value
Dept/ProgramPhilosophy
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/268431

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorFraser, CJ-
dc.contributor.authorSaunders Jr, Frank Patrick-
dc.date.accessioned2019-03-21T01:40:23Z-
dc.date.available2019-03-21T01:40:23Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationSaunders Jr, F. P.. (2018). Nature and value in early Chinese philosophy. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/268431-
dc.description.abstractMany Warring States (WS) philosophical texts are deeply committed to the idea that nature and human nature have much to teach us about what to value, how to live, and how to organize society. Similarly, some ethical and metaethical theorists today maintain that nature and human nature shape our ethical lives. The goal of this dissertation is to offer WS contributions to this ongoing, cross-cultural discussion by reconstructing WS views with the following question in mind: “What can nature teach us about how to live?” Reconstructing WS philosophical views with a specific question in mind requires that I first motivate the question itself as one to be asking the texts. To accomplish this, I will first offer a brief account of some of the key terms in the WS philosophical vocabulary. I will then discuss the core nature concepts utilized in these philosophies. This discussion establishes the possibility space for WS ethical views I will discuss in the chapters that follow. In chapter 3, I explore three prominent WS views on the relationship between nature and value. The chapter is divided into sections on the Mozi, Mengzi, and Xunzi. For each group’s moral philosophy, I discuss the role of nature concepts therein. The next three chapters of the dissertation reconstruct three views within the classical Daoist texts, Daodejing and Zhuangzi, each which speak directly to the question of what nature can teach us about how to live. Chapter 4 focuses on a view I will call primitivism found in the Laozi. This view rejects conventional, artificial WS political and ethical values in favor of a conception of society based in non-interference with people’s natural, spontaneous flourishing. Primitivism is especially apparent in Daodejing chapters 3, 18, 19, 25, 28, 32, 37, 57, 65, and 80. The view is a natural extension of the metaphysics and cosmology found in the Daodejing. Chapter 5 reconstructs the thought of the primitivist writings in the Zhuangzi. The general spirit of the project has deep affinities with the sections of Daodejing singled out in chapter 4, but with one fascinating development: a robust, normative conception of nature and human nature to serve as the project’s foundation. Chapter 6 reconstructs a view found primarily in books 1-7 of the Zhuangzi. The view holds that the myriad, naturally occurring ways of living do not admit of absolute normative rankings. There is no one best way to live given the irreducible diversity of nature and the ways of life found therein. However, we can apply a number of insights in light of these facts to our own way of being such that we may lead better lives. Chapter 7 briefly concludes with summaries of the WS views discussed and suggests some ways in which they may be developed in contemporary philosophical discussions.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshPhilosophy, Chinese-
dc.subject.lcshNature-
dc.subject.lcshValue-
dc.titleNature and value in early Chinese philosophy-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePhilosophy-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2019-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044091311303414-

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