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Wang Qingjie

After having discussed three main features of Ni Peimin’s understanding of the gongfu orientation in reading the Analects, this essay examines the first of the key terms in the whole of the book, i.e., xue/”learning” (學) and critically elaborates how our understanding of Confucius could be deepened and enriched under the guidance of this new orientation which Ni calls the “gongfu finger.”

Emilio Mazza

David Hume seems to receive several stereotypes and commonplace sentiments about China regarding its religion, national character, government, practices and economy, that he goes on to dismantle. Doing so, he allows the eighteenth-century reader to look at China from a different perspective. This perspective can still be useful especially today, when the “immense distance” between China and Europe has been reduced and, as Hume would say, almost everything we use is Chinese. In the name of an ambivalent European tradition, we are often inclined to revive these commonplace sentiments (for example, the uniformity of Chinese character) and neglect that part of our own tradition that tries to understand what is behind them and that also offers us the tools to go beyond them. This study endeavors to assemble an array of Hume’s scattered remarks, consider them in their context, and explore their possible sources in order to obtain not only a more Humean China, but also a more Chinese Hume.

Editors Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Yao Xinzhong

Learning to be human is a highly important concern in Confucian philosophy. This paper is intended to provide a special perspective on this theme through an attempt to reinterpret Mengzi’s views on the heart-mind (xin 心) as “learning to be human” and to reconstruct these views into a multi-staged process of moral development. Through an intentional interpretation of various arguments advanced by Mengzi, we seek to justify that his views on the heart-mind and moral virtues can be seen as a learning process and that he subjects the inborn beginnings of goodness to a delicate development before they can actually qualify a person as fully human. Having examined the three dimensions of Mengzi’s learning, the intellectual, the practical and the spiritual, we will come to the conclusion that whether innate or a posteriori, initial good senses and knowledge require a moral and spiritual process of learning to develop which is, to Mengzi, crucial for one to become a genuine human being.

Editors Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Fan Ruiping

This essay provides a few critical points of view on Ni Peimin’s recent English translation of the Analects. It shows that his translations of ren into “human-heartedness” and of li into “ritual propriety” may indicate a willingness to recast these Confucian concepts in the modern ideology of western subjectivism or individualism, whereas Confucianism is not in the direction of such ideologies. Moreover, while Ni seems to offer a “no-rule” view of Confucian virtue ethics, he cannot deny the existence of moral rules and principles in the Confucian system. It is insufficient for him to emphasize the importance of Confucian “instructions” or “methods” as he does without explicating their relations to Confucian rules. Additionally, Ni’s gongfu Confucianism provides a necessary and healthy step back from the contemporary principlism that has been dominant and popular in contemporary politics, ethics, and applied ethics, but Ni goes too far in denying the importance of the moral rules and principles that are implicit or explicit in the Confucian ritual practices and upheld in Confucius’s Analects.