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Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

A core concept of Chinese philosophy, dao 道 (“way” “method”) refers both to the tian dao (天道), “heavenly dao” or “dao of heaven,” and the ren dao (人道), “humanistic dao” or “dao of humans.”1 As opposed to skills or techniques, dao transcends the realm of experience and manifests itself in the metaphysical realm of wisdom. Correspondingly, achieving Dao by means of skill not only indicates a transcendence of boundaries, and an integral understanding of the real world, but moreover implies a shift from knowledge to wisdom.

Such an understanding is expressed through the process of “observation through dao.” The intended result of this process is a unified vision of dao, one that has overcome unilateral understandings and achieved the wisdom of dao. In Chinese philosophy, dao contains a variety of meanings, each of which can only be known and realized in the self.

The link between dao and human beings manifests itself as practical wisdom. According to the notion of “setting the will in dao,” dao concerns personal growth and development and the cultivation and perfection of one’s personality.

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Governing the country through meritocracy, that is to say, through the “capabilities of the worthy” (xianneng 贤能), can be seen as a Confucian political idea.1 Confucianists accorded different positions to “worthiness” (xian 贤) and “capability” (neng 能), while also paying attention to their unity. In comparison to the systems and procedures we find in the field of politics, meritocracy is more closely tied to the inner moral character and the capabilities of human beings. As such, it is clear that affirming the role of meritocracy in political practice can make a positive contribution to avoiding the reduction of politics to its systematic and procedural forms. Of course, since meritocracy refers to the moral character and the capabilities of individual human beings, it is impossible to completely separate its impact from systems, norms, procedures and the like. Additionally, the introduction of worthiness and capability into the field of political practice and the checks put in place on the negative effects this might have, needs to be guaranteed on a systematic and procedural level amongst others. In this sense, the worthiness and capability of the subject of practice and the systems and procedures on the level of the political system are far from mutually exclusive.

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

In the philosophical system of the Laozi 老子 (“Book of Master Lao”),1 2 3 metaphysical principles observed from the perspective of the way of heaven (tiandao guan 天道观) and principles of value within the perspective of the way of humanity (rendao guan 人道观) appear as intrinsically interrelated. As far as the perspective of the way of heaven is concerned, we know that the Laozi takes dao 道 (“way” “method” “principle”) as its first principle. As the ultimate basis of existence, the way is not an anthropomorphic or teleological kind of being, but rather has ziran 自然 (“self-so,” “natural,” “spontaneity”) as its fundamental mode of existence. The idea that “the way follows the example of nature” (dao fa ziran 道法自然)4 serves to make this clear. Following the example of nature within the perspective of the way of heaven becomes concretized within the observational stance provided by the way of humanity, where it counts as a principle of natural spontaneity on an axiological level. The line of thought outlined in the above, centered on the concepts of dao and ziran, reflects the correspondence between the way of heaven and the way of humanity, and also reveals the interpenetration of metaphysical and axiological principles.

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

Series:

Guorong Yang

Editor/translator Paul J. D’Ambrosio, Daniel Sarafinas, Sharon Small, Ady van den Stock and Stefano Gandolfo

The study of philosophers began in pre-Qin times.1 2 It was a glorious era in intellectual history. Large quantities of thinkers rich with original ideas cropped up everywhere in a historical spectacle. As for their social status, the philosophers were considered shi 士 (“scholars”) in the broad sense. In terms of their ideological and cultural characteristics, the philosophers were the first to form systematic thinking in Chinese intellectual history. In the narrow sense, the study of philosophers began in the pre-Qin era; in the broad sense, philosophers, as well as the related study of philosophers, are a constant in the historical evolution of Chinese thinkers, a process that has yet to reach its conclusion.