Both ‘sign’ and ‘symbol’ are words with a long and polysemic history in Western culture. Moreover, the 120-year history of the modern semiotics movement has failed to provide a highly needed definition of these most basic terms, thus resulting in ambiguity of the definition of the discipline itself. This paper proposes defining ‘sign/symbol’ as ‘a sensuous entity to be regarded as carrying meaning’. Furthermore, the terminological chaos that arises between ‘sign’ and ‘symbol’, which originated in Western languages, has caused chaos for translators in selecting the appropriate Chinese term from the options Fuhao and Xiangzheng, since a phonetic rendition is hardly possible in Chinese. On this basis, the paper attempts to define ‘semiotics’ as ‘the formal study of meaning-making’. In this understanding, semiotics covers not only signification but also communication and interpretation of meaning.
This article discusses new developments in the field of literary theory and literary praxis in the era of new media from the perspectives of media theory and interology. It takes new media as a McLuhanesque formal cause and holds that a conspicuous characteristic of literary works in the era of new media lies in the salience and normalization of interality. This development means art forms like mosaic and Pointillism have acquired a paradigmatic significance as a result. In revealing this new paradigm, the article also points to some current social maladies that have come with new media. It holds that literary writing should go beyond the mere embodiment of symptoms and make an intervention in media-induced maladies. The article affirms the irreplaceability of experimental literature and serious literature in an era of attention deficit, and points out that form should occupy a paramount position in literary theory, literary criticism, and literary praxis.
Mencius’s account of the yi-li (righteousness-benefit) distinction is important in his moral philosophy, and is often compared with consequentialism or deontology in Western moral philosophy. After showing the problems with a naïve deontological reading and a sophisticated consequentialist reading of Mencius, I will argue that both a really sophisticated consequentialist reading and a non-Kantian deontological reading are more defensible. But they couldn’t address the inequality hidden in Mencius’s moral philosophy, making a Nietzschean reading possible. However, Mencius embraced compassion as a key virtue, which Nietzsche would reject. Mencius’s moral philosophy is doubly bifurcated and different from consequentialism, deontology, and also Nietzsche’s philosophy.
This essay offers a comparative analysis of aspects of classical Chinese philosophy with those of Reformational (Neo-Calvinist) philosophy. Such aspects form a shared root in prioritizing temporal experience (over abstract reasoning) and conceptualizing the entirety of reality as contingent and relationally dependent. At the same time, however, what marks the divergence between the two philosophies is the underlying assumptions as to what this integral reality points toward – a directionality that is critical to meaning and being. For classical Chinese philosophy, the source and meaning of reality is found within reality itself, not beyond it, construing such reality not as independent and self-contained but necessary and sufficient. This conflicts with the notion of reality as contingent and dependent. From a Reformational perspective, on the other hand, reality (i.e., all of creation) is constituted as it stands in relation to an independent and necessary Creator. The crux of Reformational philosophy is that the origin and meaning of all reality must point outside of itself to its origin in God.
Theology and philosophy are strange bedfellows: although they share many similar interests and constantly influence each other, their relationship is fraught with suspicion or even enmity. This problem is especially acute for those who want to harmonize their commitment to sola Scriptura with the use of philosophy in their theology. Drawing insights from Herman Bavinck’s Neo-Calvinist worldview, I argue that this apparent competition is mainly caused by the failure to recognize the organic unity between both disciplines. Without theology, all disciplines would be meaningless, but without philosophy, all disciplines would be unintelligible. Portraying the harmony between theology and philosophy depends on the success of locating the difference and relationship between the universality of theology and that of philosophy. Further, the organicity that suffuses all things and affirms the primacy of special revelation reflects the Neo-Calvinist belief in both sola Scriptura and the sacredness of all vocations.
This article aims to retrieve Abraham Kuyper’s theology to develop Reformed theology in mainland China. It shall argue that Kuyper’s concern about the varying contexts where theology is practiced shows an underdeveloped proto-Reformed contextual theology. Nonetheless, his idea of common grace serves as a conceptual apparatus through which his proto-Reformed contextual theology can underpin the construction of Sino-Reformed theology, a Reformed theology that is organically united with the history of Christianity while taking root in Chinese culture and interacting closely with the Chinese context. Such a contextualised Reformed theology can make Reformed faith an indigenous plant in the garden of Chinese Christianity on the one hand and prove conducive to the development of an organic Reformed community and theology on the other.