This book is a study of the methodological, metaphysical, and epistemological work of the Eastern Han Dynasty period scholar Wang Chong. It presents Wang’s philosophical thought as a unique and syncretic culmination of a number of ideas developed in earlier Han and Warring States philosophy. Wang’s philosophical methodology and his theories of truth, knowledge, and will and determinism offer solutions to a number of problems in the early Chinese tradition. His views also have much to offer contemporary philosophy, suggesting new ways of thinking about familiar problems. While Wang is best known as a critic and skeptic, Alexus McLeod argues that these aspects of his thought form only a part of a larger positive project, aimed at discerning truth in a variety of senses.
Table of Contents
Introduction—Wang Chong and Philosophy in Early China
1. Background, Writings, and Influence
a. Life and Historical Background
c. Intellectual Background and Han Thought
e. Later Influence
2. Philosophical and Critical Method
a. Creation and Transmission
b. Method and Application
c. Application of the Critical Method: Appraising Han Feizi
d. Epistemology—How Do We Gain Knowledge?
e. Selection from Wenkong (Questioning Confucius)
3. Truth—Properties and Pluralism
a. The Development of Shi as a Central Concept of Truth
b. Wang’s Contribution—A Pluralist Theory?
c. Dealing With Objections to Pluralism
d. Substantive Pluralism
e. The Correspondence Intuition
f. Non-linguistic Truth in Wang’s Pluralism
4. Naturalism—Tian and Qi
a. Nature and Naturalism in Early Chinese Thought: Was Wang a “Naturalist”?
b. Tian and Ziran in Early Chinese Thought and the Lunheng
5. Free Will, Allotment, and Inborn Characteristics
a. Human Agency and Free Will
b. De (Potency)
c. Xiu (Cultivation)
d. Ziran (Spontaneity)
e. Zhi (Will/Intention)
f. Three Kinds of Allotment and Inborn Characteristics
Conclusion—The Significance of Wang Chong’s Philosophical Thought