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Aesthetic judgment: The power of the mind in understanding Confucianism

In: Frontiers of Philosophy in China
Author: XIE Xialing
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Mou Zongsan incorrectly uses Kant’s practical reason to interpret Confucianism. The saying that “what is it that we have in common in our minds? It is the li 理 (principles) and the yi 义 (righteousness)” reveals how Mencius explains the origin of li and yi through a theory of common sense. In “the li and the yi please our minds, just as the flesh of beef and mutton and pork please our mouths,” “please” is used twice, proving aesthetic judgment is necessary to understanding Mencius. An analysis of Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming’s ideas will show that Confucianism should be interpreted by appealing to aesthetic judgment, and a discussion of Kant’s theory of judgment and Gadamer’s critique of Kant’s theory will support the same point. The conclusion is that Chinese moral philosophy should be interpreted through aesthetic judgment.

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