The question of the origin of badness is a core problematic in New Confucian philosopher Xiong Shili’s 熊十力 (1885–1968) Ming Xin Pian 明心 篇 (Explaining the Mind; 1959), a work representative of his thought towards the end of his life. In this essay, I examine how Xiong uses the concepts of the nature (xing 性) and the mind (xin 心) to explain the origin of moral badness. Xiong asserts that the Buddhists never concerned themselves with the problem of the origin of ignorance and delusion, afflictions that in turn lead to suffering and wrongdoing. Xiong sets out to redress what he claims the Buddhists had failed to do. I argue that the conceptual structure of both Xiong Shili’s and Zhu Xi’s 朱 熹 (1130–1200) theoretical approaches to this problem are isomorphic. The isomorphism is significant because it suggests that Xiong consciously drew on Zhu Xi and/or the Buddhist models that Zhu in turn drew on. I provide evidence to show that even as late as 1959, and despite his increasingly entrenched criticisms of Buddhism, Xiong continued to draw on key concepts and models drawn from Buddhist philosophy of mind.
Historians generally describe Zhang Taiyan 章太炎 (Binglin 炳麟, 1869–1936) as an anti-Manchu revolutionary and treat his Buddhism as subordinate to this larger political project. Far less commonly understood is Zhang’s role in preparing the groundwork for the establishment of Chinese philosophy as an academic discipline. Against the backdrop of an intellectual climate in Japan and China during the decades either side of 1900, in which a premium had come to be placed on logic as a precondition for the development of philosophy, Zhang was one of the first Chinese intellectuals to follow the lead of Japanese scholars in maintaining that classical Chinese philosophers had developed indigenous forms of logic. Significantly, he further argued that Chinese versions of Yogācāra texts on Buddhist logic and epistemology (yinming 因明; Skt. hetu-vidyā) made it possible once again to gain a proper understanding of China’s earliest writings on logic. In this paper I argue that Zhang sought to establish that early Chinese texts “bear witness” to insights into realities that transcend individual cultures but are most fully and systematically articulated in Yogācāra systems of learning; and that classical Chinese philosopher-sages had attained an awareness of the highest truths, evidence of which can be found in their writings. In short, I will show that Zhang used Yogācāra to affirm the value of “Chinese philosophy” and, in doing so, helped shape its early definition.
Edited by John Makeham
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