Language And Logic In Ancient China Pdf

language and logic in ancient china pdf

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Formal logic in China has a special place in the history of logic due to its repression and abandonment—in contrast to the strong ancient adoption and continued development of the study of logic in Europe , India, and the Islamic world. In China, a contemporary of Confucius , Mozi , "Master Mo", is credited with founding the Mohist school, whose canons dealt with issues relating to valid inference and the conditions of correct conclusions.

Language and Logic in Ancient China Chad Hansen

Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon e-mail: rc ontology. Ontology - Mirror Website. Western historians, confusing logic and theory of language, used the term 'logicians' to describe those philosophers whom the Chinese called the 'name school'. The best known of these were Hui Shi b. This group now also includes the Later Mohists and the term 'distinction school' translated as 'dialecticians' has become common.

The importance of the more detailed Mohist work came to light in modern times. The Confucian tradition had lost access to it. Rescuing that text rekindled a long-lost interest in Chinese theories of language. The restored Mohist texts give us a general theory of how words work. A term picks out part of reality. Some terms are more general than others; terms like 'dobbin' or 'horse' or 'object' might pick out the same thing.

When we use a term to pick something out, we commit ourselves to using the name to pick out similar things and 'stopping' with the dissimilar.

Thus, for each term we learn an 'is this' and an 'is not'. Chinese doctrine portrays disagreements as arising from different ways of making the distinctions that give rise to opposites. For any descriptive term, the thing in question will either be an 'is this' or an 'is not'.

Mohists were realistic about descriptions and the world. Real similarities and differences underlie our language. They rejected the claim that words distort reality; to regard all language as 'perverse', they noted, was 'perverse'.

The Mohists failed, however, to give a good account of what similarities and differences should count in making a distinction. Mohists also found that combining terms was semantically fickle. In the simplest case, the compound picked out the sum of what the individual terms did. Classical Chinese lacked pluralization so 'cat-dog' works like 'cats and dogs'. Other compound terms such as 'white horse' worked as they do in English.

The confusion led Gongsun Long to argue, on Confucian grounds, that we could say 'white horse is not horse'. He laid down three tests for the validity of a doctrine: ancient authority, common observation, and practical effect. At first the controversies of the various schools over moral and political principles led to increasing rigor in argument; then to an interest in dialectic for its own sake, as evidenced in Hui Shih's paradoxes of infinity and in Kung-sun Lung's sophism "A white horse is not a horse"; and still later to the antirationalism of the Taoist Chuang Tzu born c.

Logic of Mohism. In the third century b. Moist Canons. The "Canons" confined dialectic to questions of the form "Is it this or is it not? Dialectic excludes such questions as "Is it an ox or a horse? Its solutions are absolutely right or wrong; being or not being "this," unlike being long or short, is not a matter of degree, since nothing is more "this" than this is.

The Mohists further argued that it is self-contradictory to deny or to affirm all propositions: the statement "All statements are mistaken" implies that it is itself mistaken, and one cannot "reject rejection" without refusing to reject one's own rejection. Names are of, three types, distinguished by their relations to "objects," which are assumed to be particular.

Names "of kinds" such as "horse" apply to every object resembling the one in question. Whether a name fits an object is decided by appeal to a "standard. Some standards fit without qualification: a circle has no straight lines. Some fit only partially: in deciding whether someone is a "black man" it is not enough to point out his black eyes and hair.

The "Canons" began with 75 definitions, evidently offered as "standards," of moral, psychological, geometrical, and occasionally logical terms. The first of the series is "The 'cause' is what is required for something to happen. Major cause: with this it will necessarily be so. Thus, "same" is 1 identical "two names for one object" , 2 belonging to one body, 3 together, and 4 of a kind "the same in some respects".

Names indicating "number and measure" cease to apply when their objects are reduced in size; when a white stone is broken up it ceases to be "big," although it is still "white. The claim that one knows X only if one knows that an object is X applies only to names indicating "shape and appearance" "mountain," but not "Ch'i" or "county".

The Chinese never analyzed deductive forms, but the Mohists noticed that the formal parallelism of sentences does not necessarily entitle us to infer from one in the same way as from another, and they developed a procedure for testing parallelism by the addition or substitution of words.

For example, "Asking about a man's illness is asking about the man," but "Disliking the man's illness is not disliking the man"; "The ghost of a man is not a man," but "The ghost of my brother is my brother.

From: Angus C. IV pp. Borchert ed. Selected Bibliography on Ancient Chinese Logic. Zalta ed. Digital Library and Museum of Buddhist Studies. Van Norden. Chad Hansen's Chinese Philosophy Pages. Skip to main content. On the website "Theory and History of Ontology" www. Skip to the top of page.

Introduction: Chinese Philosophy of Logic

These normative views are especially clear in the writings of Xunzi, a Confucian scholar of the late Warring States period who attempted to assimilate the key insights of the Mohists on language and logic into a general Confucian theory of ethics Lin When with differences in expression and divergence in thought we communicate with each other, and different things are obscurely confounded in name or as objects, the noble and the base will not be clarified, the same and different will not be distinguished; in such cases intent will inevitably suffer from frustration and obstruction. Therefore the wise made for them apportionments and distinctions and instituted names to point out objects, in the first place in order to clarify noble and base, secondly to distinguish same and different. When noble and base are clarified, and same and different distinguished, intent is not hampered by failure to communicate and action does not suffer from frustration and obstruction. This is the purpose of having names.

Following the developments of symbolic logic in the late nineteenth century and mathematical logic in the twentieth century, philosophers in the trend of analytic philosophy have been interested in using logical and other analytical methods to deal with philosophical problems or issues, on the one hand, and in explaining logical concepts to disclose their philosophical implication or significance, on the other. Skip to main content. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available. Advertisement Hide. Introduction: Chinese Philosophy of Logic.

Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon e-mail: rc ontology. Ontology - Mirror Website. Western historians, confusing logic and theory of language, used the term 'logicians' to describe those philosophers whom the Chinese called the 'name school'. The best known of these were Hui Shi b. This group now also includes the Later Mohists and the term 'distinction school' translated as 'dialecticians' has become common.

Language and logic in ancient China : collected papers on the Chinese language and logic

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Logic and Language in Early Chinese Philosophy

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