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In: Studies on Contemporary Chinese Philosophy (1949–2009)

This essay reviews the Zhuangzian notion of zhen 真, often through the text’s advancement of the zhenren 真人 (“genuine person,” “true person”) or zhenzhi 真知 (“genuine knowledge,” “true knowledge”). Contemporary scholarship, in both Chinese and English, often presents zhen as analogous to the existentialist theory of authenticity, which correspondingly reflects on interpretations of the “self,” and thereby the zhen person. Much of the Zhuangzi is a reaction to the Lunyu, including an ironic response to the Confucian cultivation project. If we establish our interpretation of the “self” against this background then we find that zhen in the Zhuangzi is actually used to argue against the Confucian identification of the person and self through social roles or conventions. However, advocating zhen does not suggest that there is some essential or core “self” to refer to; instead, it implies a natural state of responsiveness where the person acts efficaciously by being in line with what is obvious or affirmed in the situation. This essay thereby presents a reading of zhen that is historically and culturally consistent, and sets up the Zhuangzi as an alternative, and not an echo, to some of the major issues dealt with by the existentialist movement.

In: Frontiers of Philosophy in China
Metaphysical Investigation in Chinese Philosophy
Author: Yang Guorong
Editor / Translator: Paul D'Ambrosio
Professor Yang Guorong is one of the foremost living philosophers in China, and is widely known for the development of his “concrete metaphysics.” In Philosophical Horizons Yang offers penetrating discussions of some of the most important issues in modern philosophy—especially those topics related to comparative and Chinese philosophy. Drawing freely and adroitly on Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist texts, while staging a dialogue with Western thinkers such as from Kant and Hegel to Marx, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, Yang shows how contemporary Chinese philosophy has adopted, localized, and critically developed Western ideas alongside traditional Chinese concepts.
Author: Qiyong GUO
Editor / Translator: Paul D'Ambrosio
Guo Qiyong’s edited volume on contemporary Chinese philosophy offers a detailed look at research on Chinese philosophy published from 1949-2009 in Mainland China and Taiwan. The chapters in this volume are broken down into either major themes or time periods in the history of Chinese philosophy. In each chapter after summarizing significant aspects of a particular theme or time period, lists are drawn up of the most important works, along with comments on their individual contributions.

This volume allows readers to both familiarize themselves with specific texts and become immersed in the more general philosophical discourse surrounding the history of Chinese philosophy. It provides an in-depth look into serious debates and major discoveries in Chinese language philosophical scholarship from 1949-2009.
With Contemporary Explication and Traditional Commentary
Author: Guying Chen
Editors / Translators: Paul D'Ambrosio and Ouyang Xiao
Chen Guying’s Laozi dissects different versions of the Laozi and provides close readings of traditional and contemporary commentaries, from Han Fei, Wang Bi, and Heshang Gong through to Shi Deqing, Xu Kangsheng and Ding Yuanzhi. This book completely changed Laozi studies in China, where no serious student or scholar can ignore Chen’s amazing work. It is the standard interpretation of the Laozi at nearly every Chinese university.

The English translation provided here seeks to accurately reflect the detail of Chen’s meticulous work by providing multiple English translations of key characters, allowing the reader to follow complex Sinological arguments. The close “word-for-character” translation of the Laozi text enables scholars to interact with the Laozi on a level previously unavailable in English.
Author: Guorong Yang
Translators: Paul J. D'Ambrosio and Sarah Flavel
In On Human Action and Practical Wisdom, Yang Guorong offers a description of his “concrete metaphysics.” This system seeks to overcome traditional metaphysical problems by providing a concrete basis - which serves as both the starting point and the final determining factor - for metaphysics. Yang gives a discussion of wisdom and practical action that begins in our everyday activities and social relationships, is extended to form universal principles, and finally refers back to actual situations for determining appropriateness.

Based on his unification of ontology, epistemology and axiology, Yang thus attempts to overcome the one-sided understanding of action in modern Western philosophy, targeting in particular the excessively linguistic, logical, and abstract focus found in the American analytic tradition.
In: The Annotated Critical Laozi
In: The Annotated Critical Laozi