Michele Ferrero

The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義) is a Chinese text of the 17th century written by the Italian sinologist and missionary Matteo Ricci. It contains, among other topics, a discussion between a Confucian scholar and a Christian about the motivation to act. For Confucianism a good action should be performed for its own sake, without any thought of future reward. For Christianity it seems that good actions are performed in order to go to Heaven. Ricci argues that human actions are complex. The ultimate motivation for goodness comes from a relation with God. The Confucian scholar claims that actually not all actions need a motive. Sometimes things “just happen.” Also, a good tradition can move people to behave properly. Dealing with topics such as soul, eternal life, causes, descendants, tradition, happiness and proper behavior, this dialogue offers a great insight of the meeting of two great traditions: Confucianism and Christianity.

Jiang Niling and Zhou Jing

William James’s understanding of the concept of experience has much in common with ideas in Chinese traditional philosophy. This connection, however, has remained unexplored. Here we introduce the idea of ontological epistemology as a way to bring these important commonalities into view. By highlighting two features of the concept of experience in Chinese philosophy, we suggest that the perspectives of holism and relationism are common to both James and the Chinese tradition. With regard to the personal and impersonal characteristics of radical experience and its commensurability with Chinese philosophy, we will pay attention to the self-dissolving aspect of both. However, there are still some theoretical complexities that remain unresolved, which clearly show the possibility of further research in the comparative study of contemporary pragmatism and Chinese philosophy.

Editors Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Wang Niecai

The Four Books were a frequent point of reference in publications during the Chinese Rites Controversy. In the Tian Ru Yin (1664), the Franciscan Antonio de Santa María Caballero (1602–69) used an allegorical approach, interpreting the true meaning of the Chinese Classics as Christian revelation while rejecting the traditional reading of the Confucian Classics. On the contrary, the Jesuits in the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687) used a rationalistic approach, harmonizing Western intellectualism with Confucianism. We shall show how these two interpretations are rooted in different theological traditions, leading the two sides to take opposite stances in the Chinese Rites Controversy.

Daniel Canaris

On 29 September 1584, the first Catholic catechism was printed in China under the title The True Record of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shilu 天主實錄). Written primarily by the Jesuit missionary Michele Ruggieri (1543–1607) with the assistance of at least two other Jesuits and Chinese interpreters, the catechism inaugurated the rich cultural exchange between China and Europe for which the Jesuit China mission would be renown. Despite the pioneering role of this catechism, it has been viewed for the most part by posterity as a pale forerunner of the later catechism by Ruggieri’s confrère, Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義). This article attempts to skirt the anachronistic comparison with Ricci’s Tianzhu Shiyi by proposing the Tianzhu Shilu as an autonomous text expressive of a cogent strategy for tailoring Western scholasticism to the contingencies of the Chinese cultural context.

Thierry Meynard

The Mingli Tan is recognized as the first Chinese-language treatise introducing Western logic in China. First published in the final years of the Ming dynasty, the work was presented to Emperor Kangxi in 1683. Despite its sophisticated thought and innovation, the work failed to gain support among intellectuals and court officials. By analyzing the objectives of the Mingli Tan in tandem with its companion work, the Coimbra commentary, this paper explores some of the important philosophical, pedagogical, and historical reasons that can help to explain this failure. Through this historical failure, we can gain some insights about the nature of logic and its current position in China.

Puttipong Oungkanungveth

Natawan Wongchalard

This paper contextualises a cultural construction of hegemonic masculinity and discusses ways in which Thai action film heroes in historical and Muay Thai films are represented. Traditionally, the quality of nakleng is desirable for Thai action heroes along with having mastery in a particular skill. In the moral realm, the idea of gratitude or khwam-katanyu in Thai, is prioritised and highly regarded to be the inevitable requisite for good men, which includes action heroes. This sense of gratitude extends to one’s ideological obligations to one’s motherland or matuphum, which is often thematically portrayed in Muay Thai and historical films through the struggle of the hero. Based on a reading of the two exemplar films, Ong Bak (Muay Thai Warrior 2003, dir. Prachya Pinkaew) and The Legend of King Naresuan: The Elephant Duel (2014, dir. Chatri Chalerm Yukol), the different social backgrounds of the two heroes, their hegemonic masculinity, autonomy and lack can be explained in relation to the discourse of Buddhist spirituality. In addition, the ways in which the two heroes are differently depicted is a cinematic device with the aid of which, in addition to the observance of filmic verisimilitude, the representations are designed to cater to segmented subject/citizen audiences. In psychoanalytic terms, each hero from the two films is similarly made to acquire autonomy and experience ‘lack’ in different realms of the symbolic order.