Applications of chinese philosophy in modern life

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Political considerations aside, such a vehement display of intolerance seems an unfortunate response to a widened philosophical playing field. This scenario of necessary conflicts concerns philosophy, which may be seen as part of culture, or as reflecting aspects of culture. A brighter outlook is taken by those thinkers who see the global situation as a positive challenge to design new philosophical projects and redefine philosophical parameters.

Some areas of philosophy seem to demand a global outlook more than others, moral philosophy being one of them. Examples are the attempts to establish a global ethics, as well as the increased interest in value inquiry on a global level.

Even talking about a global situation at all requires us to look beyond our own tradition. We can go about this in a number of different ways: One choice is to focus on differences between philosophical outlooks, which frequently entails the conclusion that different ways of thought are incommensurable, often a case for cultural relativism.

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In it, a very self-important little frog boasts about the magnificence of his habitat, a well, to a turtle which has come from the ocean. The little welldweller ends up confused and insecure when being told about the greatness of the ocean, of which it had been quite unaware. Here was a fulfilled and happy frog, content with his own picture of the world, and there seems to be no reason to puncture his complacency. But does not precisely the enterprise of philosophy itself require us to look beyond the confines of our own horizons?

Perhaps not. Though we are of course likely to end up with another partial and therefore ultimately flawed perspective, the flexibility of the exercise as such is instructive and inspiring. It depends on what you are looking for: Whoever reads Chinese philosophy with the expectation of finding ideas which neatly fit into a Western pattern will be disappointed: try and fit Chinese thought into a Western straightjacket, and you will get very little out of it indeed. In any case, China has more to offer than just one simple, uniform fashion of approaching philosophical problems.

Science and Chinese Philosophy

Though we cannot expect Chinese philosophy to fit Western parameters, in reading it we come across interesting philosophical concepts, some of which may strike us as strangely familiar from the Western context but argued and derived from a different perspective. Graham, one of the greatest experts in the field of Chinese philosophy, whose sensitivity to both language and philosophical contents I greatly admire, became fascinated with Chinese philosophy as it provided a new angle on certain philosophical problems with which he had been struggling, such as the is-ought gap.

Its study constantly involves one in important contemporary issues in moral philosophy, the philosophy and history of science, the deconstruction of established conceptual schemes, the problems of relating thought to linguistic structure, and correlative thinking to logic. It seems a widespread view that most of Chinese thought can be neatly folded into small piles and fitted into three drawers:Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, or at least certain variations of it.

Such an attempted cleaning-up job in Chinese thought will, as in most philosophical contexts, have messy consequences: none of the drawers will close properly, bits and pieces will be left lying around.

Furthermore, many of the concepts exploited by the classical thinkers either go back to earlier times or are shared by most of them, yet are given distinctly different meanings in each philosophical context.

What this actually means has been subject to millennia of fierce debate. The first great period of Chinese philosophical activity coincides with the later part of the Zhou Dynasty c. The wish for stability and the need to introduce an efficient social structure brought about a wealth of different schools of thought.

Confucius is the name that usually springs to mind when Chinese philosophy is mentioned. Not only Confucius but also the later philosophers Mencius and Xunzi, though very different in their outlooks, are subsumed under what is regarded as classical Confucianism. It devised an ethic resting on the most deep-seated social bonds, kinship and custom, the community being modelled on the family.

Legalism presented a rational political philosophy, with the techniques to organise a great empire and largely homogenise culture throughout it. Some of the early Chinese thinkers, whose concern rested in particular with the formulation and analysis of rational argumentation, are often called Logicians or Sophists.

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applications of chinese philosophy in modern life

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Reference Works.At first glance, there may appear to be little connection between Chinese philosophy and science. Stereotypes of Chinese philosophy as consisting almost entirely of Confucianism and claims that Confucians were not interested in science add to this perception.

For example, in a recent correspondence in the journal NaturePeng Gong, a research scientist at Tsinghua University and the University of California, Berkeley gives the following harsh assessment of the effect of Chinese philosophy on the development of science in China:.

Is this a fair account? Is Chinese philosophy in some sense anti-science? Or is the history of science in China part of a universal science? This essay addresses relations between science and Chinese philosophy in several ways.

It begins with a detailed argument by the influential historian of Chinese philosophy Fung Yu-lan almost one hundred years ago, claiming that there is no science in China because there is no need for any. The second section presents an opposing view from the history of science as presented by Joseph Needham and others, introducing a range of sciences that developed in China, with what might be called distinctive Chinese characteristics.

The third section addresses the particular problem of Needham's representation of Chinese science as significantly Daoist. The next two sections attempt to historicize and reconcile these two histories, one philosophical and one scientific, by turning to the intellectual and social contexts for the development of science in China.

The fourth section focuses on concepts shared by the practitioners and texts of early philosophy and science. The fifth section turns to an intellectual divergence between generalist and technical specialist knowledge through the categorization of texts in a chapter of the dynastic history of the Han dynasty Han shu.

The sixth section takes up the social context of the practitioners of the early sciences and their relations to philosophical texts and traditions. The last section surveys the early sciences, with specific interest in areas of close relationship between the sciences and Chinese philosophy, especially in the areas of cosmology, astronomy, mathematics and medicine.

On his account, the Warring States period — BCE developed two philosophies, Daoism and Mohism respectively, which followed these two tendencies to extreme, and a third, Confucianism, which he represents as a compromise between them.

On Fung's explanation, the Daoists considered nature perfect while the Mohists sought to improve on it— Mohism, as he puts it, stood for art as over against nature— It is better to control nature and use it than to follow and admire it. For a study of this chapter see Machle In the tenth century CE the Song Neo-Confucians combined Daoist, Confucian and Buddhist teachings into a new philosophy that has persisted to the present.

Fung points out that the Song dynasty — corresponded to the period of the development of modern science in Europe, but Europeans developed techniques for understanding and controlling matter, while the Chinese Neo-Confucians developed techniques for understanding and controlling mind— But, Fung argues, China did not discover the scientific method because Chinese thought started from the mind, and did not require proof or logical or empirical demonstration. In summary, although Fung Yu-lan's account of Warring States philosophy is open to question, he gives a compelling version of a type of claim for philosophical reasons why science did not develop in China.

The question of the relation of Chinese philosophy and science is complicated by several factors. One is the need to define what we mean by science in the context of early China and early Chinese philosophy. These questions partake of an ongoing debate on the nature of Chinese science, which initially arose from the pioneering work of Joseph Needham. This debate focuses on the problematic question of why or whether the revolution that transformed scientific disciplines in Europe did not take place in China.

It has tended to focus on the mathematization of science and on the activities of court astronomical officials Needham b, But these debates do little to clarify the relations between the origins and development of the sciences in China and Chinese philosophy.

In Needham's terms, the answers lie in the history of Chinese science itself, but Fung Yu-lan's argument provides an answer of a very different kind, which Needham would probably not entertain at all. Although Needham's b own account of the history of Chinese philosophy and science repeatedly cites the scholarship of Fung Yu-lan, especially Funghe makes no mention of Fung Needham, himself an eminent embryologist Needhamwas the primary author of the multi-volume ongoing Science and Civilisation in China His approach to the problem of the history of science in China was to try to fit the Chinese scientific tradition into the categories of twentieth-century western science.

On the one hand, this approach enabled Needham and his collaborators to engage the wealth and variety of the many Chinese sciences from a perspective that took them seriously as contributors to an ongoing and universal history of science.

As Nathan Sivin and has argued, Chinese accounts focused on specific sciences, rather than on one unified notion of science. These Chinese sciences were both quantitative and qualitative.Skip to content. Skip to navigation.


Present day Chinese culture is an amalgamation of old world traditions and a westernized lifestyle. The two co-exist like the traditional Yin Yang formula of balance. This can be seen in the juxtaposition of towering skyscrapers with heritage buildings, the contrast of western fashion with the traditional Chinese Qipao dress, the people's paradoxical affinity for both dim sums and McDonald's.

Ancient Chinese Culture is older than years. Chinese cultural history has enormous diversity and variety. The sophisticated Chinese civilization was rich in the Arts and Sciences, elaborate Painting and Printing techniques and delicate pottery and sculpture. Chinese architectural traditions were much respected all over the world.

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Chinese language and literature, philosophy and politics are still reckoned as a strong influence. Chinese culture managed to retain its unique identity till the advent of Western culture in the midth century.

Chinese Religion, Philosophy and Politics: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have left a collective and lasting impression on Chinese culture and tradition. Taoism advocated the controversial philosophy of inaction.

Buddhism emphasized on the need to attain self- emancipation through good deeds. China, a large united multi-national state, is composed of 56 ethnic groups. Han Chinese account for These numerous ethnic groups share China's vast lands but at the same time many live in their individual communities.

The relationships between the different ethnic groups have been formed over many years. While hundreds of Chinese dialects are spoken across China, a minority language is not simply a dialect. Rather, it is a language with distinct grammatical and phonological differences from Chinese. Twenty-one ethnic minority groups have unique writing systems.

Buddhism in China. Buddhism is the most important religion in China. During its development in China, it has a profound influence on traditional Chinese culture and thoughts, and has become one of the most important religions in China at that time. Three different forms of this religion evolved as it reached the centers of population at varying times and by different routes. The social and ethnic background in each location also affected the way in which each of these forms developed and eventually they became known as Han, Tibetan and Southern Buddhism.

Over its long history, Buddhism has left an indelible impact on Chinese civilization. Many words and phrases have root in a Buddhist origin. Take a colloquial phrase as an example, 'to hold the foot of Buddha at the moment" means "to make a last minute effort".

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This reveals in a sense the true attitude of the Chinese toward the utilitarian aspects of belief. Many people kowtow to whatever gods they encounter and will burn incense in any temple.

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In literature traces of Buddhism and Zen are obvious. Quite a few famous poets in Tang Dynasty like Bai Juyi were lay Buddhists but this did not prevent them from indulging in a little from time to time.

Just as today's white collar classes go to bars, the Tang scholars went to restaurants to drink and flirt with the almahs. In today's China, Buddhist temples, Buddhist caves and grottoes and Buddhist Holy Mountains, especially the ones listed in the national or provincial historical and cultural relics, have become the hot spots for tourism. It is not uncommon for the income of a temple to cover the expenses of a whole county or district.Daoism Persons. Hundred Schools of Thought. Vedic philosophy.

Even in modern society, Confucianism is still the creed of etiquette for Chinese society. Early Shang dynasty thought was based upon cycles. This notion stems from what the people of the Shang Dynasty could observe around them: day and night cycled, the seasons progressed again and again, and even the moon waxed and waned until it waxed again.

Thus, this notion, which remained relevant throughout Chinese historyreflects the order of nature. In juxtaposition, it also marks a fundamental distinction from western philosophyin which the dominant view of time is a linear progression. During the Shang, fate could be manipulated by great deities, commonly translated as gods.

There was also human and animal sacrifice. When the Shang were overthrown by the Zhoua new political, religious and philosophical concept was introduced called the " Mandate of Heaven ".

This mandate was said to be taken when rulers became unworthy of their position and provided a shrewd justification for Zhou rule.

During this period, archaeological evidence points to an increase in literacy and a partial shift away from the faith placed in Shangdi the Supreme Being in traditional Chinese religionwith ancestor worship becoming commonplace and a more worldly orientation coming to the fore. Confucianism developed during the Spring and Autumn period from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius — BCEwho considered himself a retransmitter of Zhou values.

His philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. Confucianism largely became the dominant philosophical school of China during the early Han dynasty following the replacement of its contemporary, the more Taoistic Huang-Lao.

Mohism, though initially popular due to its emphasis on brotherly love versus harsh Qin Legalism, fell out of favour during the Han Dynasty due to the efforts of Confucians in establishing their views as political orthodoxy.

By the time of the Tang dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism's arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became highly popular during the Song dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Chinese philosophy integrated concepts from Western philosophy. Anti- Qing dynasty revolutionaries, involved in the Xinhai Revolutionsaw Western philosophy as an alternative to traditional philosophical schools; students in the May Fourth Movement called for completely abolishing the old imperial institutions and practices of China.

During this era, Chinese scholars attempted to incorporate Western philosophical ideologies such as democracyMarxismsocialismliberalismrepublicanismanarchism and nationalism into Chinese philosophy. Although the People's Republic of China has been historically hostile to the philosophy of ancient China, the influences of past are still deeply ingrained in the Chinese culture.

In the post- Chinese economic reform era, modern Chinese philosophy has reappeared in forms such as the New Confucianism. As in Japanphilosophy in China has become a melting pot of ideas.

It accepts new concepts, while attempting also to accord old beliefs their due. Chinese philosophy still carries profound influence amongst the people of East Asiaand even Southeast Asia.

This period is considered the golden age of Chinese philosophy. Of the many schools founded at this time and during the subsequent Warring States periodthe four most influential ones were ConfucianismDaoism often spelled "Taoism"Mohism and Legalism. Confucianism is a philosophical school developed from the teachings of Confucius collected and written by his disciples after his death in The Analectsand in the Warring States periodMencius in The Mencius and Xunzi in The Xunzi.This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

On the problem of the meaning of life in “Chinese Philosophy”

Chen Chun Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju. Google Scholar. Cheng Shude Chen Yinque Beijing: Sanlian Shudian. Deng Xize a. Huanan Shifan Daxue Xuebao6: 15— Deng Xize b.

Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe. Deng Xize c. Xueshu Jie6: — Feng Youlan Zhengzhou: Henan Renmin Chubanshe. Guo Qingfan Kong Yingda Beijing: Beijing Daxue Chubanshe.

applications of chinese philosophy in modern life

Laozi Levenson, R. Mou Zongsan Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe. Ni Liangkang Zhejiang Xuekan2: 22— Tang Yongtong Shijiazhuang: Hebei Renmin Chubanshe. Wang Yangming Download references. Correspondence to Xize Deng. This paper is supported by the academic fund for young talents of Sichuan University Project Number: skqx Deng, X.

China 6, — Download citation. Received : 09 October Published : 18 November Issue Date : December As an ancient cultural entity, China seemed to be frozen in a time capsule for thousands of years until it suddenly defrosted as a direct result of military invasions and exploitation by the West and Japan since the Opium War of Modern Chinese philosophers typically responded to critiques of their heritage by both Chinese and Western thinkers either by transforming Chinese tradition as in the efforts of Zhang Zhidong and Sun Yat-sendefending it as in the work of traditional Buddhists and Confuciansor opposing it altogether as in the legacy of the May Fourth New Cultural Movement, including both its liberal and its communist exponents.

In spite of this, a striking feature of most modern Chinese philosophy is its retrieval of traditional Chinese thought as a resource for addressing 20th century concerns. As an antique, independent cultural entity, China seemed to be frozen in a time capsule for thousands of years until it suddenly defrosted as a direct result of military invasions and exploitation by the West and Japan since the Opium War of With this demarcation in mind, the history of Chinese philosophy can be divided into five phases: the ancient ca.

Roughly speaking, many parallels to the history of Western philosophy can be discerned in this division. Like Greek philosophyancient Chinese philosophy was dominated by a spirit of fundamental humanism rather than theistic enthusiasm. Like Christian scholasticismmedieval Chinese philosophy was dominated by a religious concern displayed in the teachings of the multifarious Buddhist schools. The Renaissance of Chinese philosophy may be found in the Neo-Confucian movement that lasted for one thousand years through four dynasties: the SongYuanMing and Qing Finally, all schools of modern and contemporary Western thought have prompted modern and contemporary Chinese philosophy to respond to their profound challenges.

These various modes of response include the affirmation of tradition, the transformation of tradition, and the abandonment of tradition, once and for all. Collectively, these three modes of response function as the background to the development of modern Chinese philosophy and also help identify three of its major trends: the transformational trend represented by Zhang Zhidong and Sun Yat-senthe traditional trend represented by traditional Buddhism, classical Confucianism, and Neo-Confucianism, respectivelyand the anti-traditional trend represented by the Liberalism and the Communism fostered by the May Fourth New Cultural Movement.

While there have been various developments within other minor schools, only the major strains of thought will be treated briefly here. Their criticisms of Neo-Confucianism are still wielded with some force by those who critique Neo-Confucian thought today.

applications of chinese philosophy in modern life

Another major intellectual trend that had exercised great influence on modern Chinese philosophy was Buddhism, a foreign religion that first came to China in the late Han dynasty.

From then onward, Buddhism became popular with ordinary people as a folk belief for its promise to satisfy their secular needs, and gradually became attractive to scholars for the complexity and intricacy of its metaphysical and psychological theories.

After the intellectual renaissance ofthe movement advanced at a rapid pace. In the following decade, important works of Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, James, Bergson, and Marx, and others became available in Chinese. Dewey, Russell, and Dreisch came to China to lecture, and special numbers of journals were devoted to Nietzsche and Bergson… Almost every trend of thought had its exponent.

Creen, Carnap, and C. Lewis had their own following. For a time it seemed Chinese thought was to be completely Westernized. From the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, China suffered from ruthless exploitation and invasions by the Western powers and Japan.

Trammeled by many unfair treaties signed by the defeated Qing government, China experienced a crisis of cultural self-confidence as its traditions shattered, its society disintegrated, and its empire perished.

This can be regarded as the first instance of the transformational trend in modern Chinese philosophy before the birth of modern China in Sun Yat-senthe Nationalist founder of the Republic of China, led the overthrow of the Qing regime in after a long series of revolutionary campaigns. Inspired by U. According to Sun, his Nationalism promoted eight kinds of national virtues: loyalty, fidelity, benevolence, love, honesty, justice, harmony, and peace, all of which have their origin in Chinese traditional culture but must be transformed to meet with the urgent needs of modern society.

Thus, Sun urged all Chinese to stand up for their rights, and to fight for their freedom and equality by joining the course of revolution.

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Influenced by the meritocratic Confucian civil service system of traditional China, Sun urged that most of the executive offices of the government be assigned by way of examination, instead of election. Accordingly, the government should monopolize ownership and management of electricity, banking, mass transportation, and so forth, and leave medium- and small-sized businesses free room for their own development.


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