Discussion

As the categorical system of traditional Chinese philosophy is a rather broad and complicated issue, it calls for an earnest and extensive discussion. The following are only preliminary views on some of the questions:

(1) Should the categories in the categorical system be in pairs?

This question should be discussed in two aspects. On the one hand, in the history of philosophy, the philosophical categories used by a philosopher may not be in pairs. For example, the concept "spontaneity" used by Laozi (Lao Tzu) seems not to have its opposite in the book Laozi (Lao Tzu). The concept qi used as the most general concept in the "White Heart" chapter of Guanzi did not seem to have its opposite either. However, taking the development of traditional Chinese philosophy as a whole, the categories are in pairs. For example, the concept "spontaneity" is paired with "ethics" and "principle" with qi. On the other hand, everything is contradictory, with two contradictory aspects, of which one does not exist without the other. Therefore, the categories which reflect the essential relationships of things must be in pairs of opposites. Some of the philosophical concepts and categories of traditional Chinese philosophy indeed seem to have no pairs of opposites, such as the "mean." We certainly cannot say there is a "counter-mean." Yet an analysis of the meaning of the mean may possibly lead to the solution of this question. Confucius advanced his "doctrine of the mean" to oppose "excess"; he said: "Excess amounts to insufficiency." Thus, the "mean" has the sense of

"middle" or "correct." Therefore it would be sufficient to have the concepts of the "positive" and the "negative" in traditional Chinese philosophy since "mean" is included in the meaning of "positive."

Not all the categorical systems used by Western philosophers necessarily reflect the unity of opposites. Among the ten categories used by Aristotle, some can be paired up as opposites such as "quality" and "quantity," but "substance" has no specific opposite, though the other nine categories might be considered to be the opposites of "substance." The twelve categories used by Kant and the categories of the categorical system of Hegel's Logik are mostly pairs of opposites. Though divergent in their views on the categorical system, all Marxist philosophers agree that categories are in pairs, for instance, essence and phenomenon, content and form, necessity and chance, possibility and actuality, etc. Marxist philosophy holds that categories must be pairs of opposites; this is certainly a correct view and reflects the reality of things. Thus when we today study the categorical system of traditional Chinese philosophy and try to make it more systematically and scientifically reflect the characteristics and level of traditional Chinese philosophy, we should try to find out the law of unity of opposites in its categorical system.

(2) How many categories should the categorical system of traditional Chinese philosophy contain in order to be sufficient to indicate "the basic pattern of being" or "the basic concepts that reflect the most fundamental characteristics, aspects and relationships of the phenomena and knowledge of the reality"?

The twenty pairs of opposite basic concepts of the categorical system of traditional Chinese philosophy are merely a tentative proposition. They indicate mostly what the "world" and "man" are; for example, the existence of the "world" comprises "principle" and qi and the existence of "man" comprises "spirit" and "form." The categories used by Western philosophers, however, generally show the mode of existence and the "principles of knowledge." The contemporary categories of Marxist philosophy as a whole also show the characteristics and aspects of being and do not include the most basic concepts such as "mind" and "thing" in the categorical system. By this criterion, some of the categories listed above should not be included in the categorical system of traditional Chinese philosophy and some other concepts should be added. However, the way we have indicated the system of traditional Chinese philosophy might be just one approach, for the various categories listed in the diagram do indicate the "basic mode of existence" so far as their contents are concerned, and are also "focal points in the web" of man's knowledge. Would not, then, our way seem to be better suited to reflect the characteristics and level of traditional Chinese philosophy? Of course it would be even better if we could use less basic concepts to indicate traditional Chinese philosophy, such as the diagram on the next page.

(3) Can "the categorical system of traditional Chinese philosophy" reflect its characteristics and level?

This is a major question because serious research and thorough quiescence

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment