مرکزی صفحہ Philosophy Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought By Eric S. Nelson...
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Reviews particles! Doesn’t ‘awareness of awareness’ involve something like recognition of the content of one’s state, with discrimination of its various features, and doesn’t this involve a complexity of mentality that seems to make no sense for an elementary particle that wholly lacks further structure? Strawson does not, I think, discuss Berkeley’s treatment of the self, but Berkeley’s treatment of its elusiveness might be nearer to what Strawson wants than is Hume’s. Berkeley agrees that we cannot form an idea of the self, for things that are active cannot be captured in this way, we can only have what he calls notions of them. (Strictly speaking, we do not have ideas of things, because sensible things are ideas. It is unclear whether Berkeley would say, in a similar fashion, that the self, thinking, and other mental activities are notions, as opposed to saying that we have only notions of these things. ‘Notion’ would then be a name for an active mental thing.) Berkeley’s idea that the dynamism of the self makes it both elusive and implicit in all mental life seems very close to what Strawson wants. Galen Strawson’s originality and willingness to develop ideas in wholly unfashionable ways makes this a very valuable collection of essays. Few will agree with everything that he says, but everything is stimulating and provocative. Howard Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org This review first published online 20 November 2018 Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought By Eric S. Nelson Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017. 343pp., £85 ISBN: 978-1-3500-0255-5 doi:10.1017/S0031819118000426 Eric Nelson has written an important and sometimes riveting book. He draws upon and brings into dialogue philosophers from both the analytic and continental traditions; he is concerned above all to make connections between some familiar (and less familiar) German thinkers and Chinese and Buddhist philosophy; and he defends and exemplifies a conception of philosophy which exceeds the limits of a narrowly Europ; ean paradigm to embrace the insights of these non-Western forms of thinking. Philosophy thus conceived aspires 342 Reviews to be ‘intercultural’, it has an irreducibly spiritual dimension, and it poses a challenge to the ‘persistent myth and prejudice that philosophy is, and can only be, a unique and exclusive Western spiritual achievement’ – as if Western philosophy has a monopoly on reason and argumentation, and anything remotely Eastern is to be relegated to the poetic or the irrational. A similar prejudice once led analytic philosophers to question the philosophical credentials of those belonging to the continental tradition, and Nelson cites with approval Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s declaration that philosophy’s ‘center is everywhere and its circumference nowhere’. The individual chapters take us through a series of philosophical/ historical case studies in which the relevant ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ thinkers are brought into focus and dialogue, although Nelson is concerned equally to illustrate the lack and failure of such exchange. Chapter 1 offers an account of the mixed reception of Confucius and Confucianism in thinkers such as Martin Buber, Georg Misch, and Franz Rosenzweig. Rosenzweig took Confucius to be a rather tedious and mediocre ethical exemplar: ‘[i]t must be said to the honor of mankind that nowhere else except in China could such a boring man as Confucius have become the classical model of the human. Something quite other than character is the mark of the Chinese man’. Misch followed Diderot, Voltaire, and Kant in regarding him as the Chinese Socrates, and Buber lent emphasis to the position’s ethical and spiritual core, setting it against the will-driven approach which dominated much European philosophy. Chapter 2 describes the interaction between the New Confucianneo-Confucianist Zhang Junmai and the life-philosophers Rudolf Eucken and Hans Driesch, drawing out the implications for an understanding of the nature and scope of logical and scientific method and their place within a more encompassing vision of aesthetic-ethical life. Chapter 3 examines the issue of ‘resentment’ in Nietzsche and Max Scheler, finding a solution in early Confucian philosophy with its search for inner harmony. Chapter 4 takes us from Confucianism to Daoism, and in particular, the German interest in Laozi and Zhuangzi – ‘Lao-Zhuang Daoism’ – as exemplified, for example, in Buber and Heidegger, both of whom were attracted to its poetic and spiritual dimension, and the prospect it offered for tackling the problem of technological modernity from within an uncompromisingly this-worldly framework. Chapter 5 tackles the question of philosophy’s origins through the approaches of Heidegger and his successors (including Derrida and Rorty) versus the hermeneutical life-philosophers Misch and Dilthey. Heidegger and his successors are said to view philosophy as a predominantly Western enterprise, 343 Reviews whereas Misch and Dilthey take a more pluralistic and interculturally sensitive approach. The final three chapters tackle the philosophical reception of Buddhism and dialogue with it. Husserl and Heidegger are the focus of chapter 6, both of whom exhibit an openness to Buddhism, albeit from within a framework which is said to impede the possibility of a truly intercultural perspective. Chapter 7 begins from Buber’s claim that the West is in need of learning from the East, raising the questions of how such learning is to be understood, and whether it can solve the West’s problem of technological modernity. The final chapter introduces the Chinese Chan Buddhist notion of emptiness, comparing it with Heidegger’s notion of the nothing, and making clear that it is ‘not a thing in any sense but is the practice of emptying’. The relevant approaches are said to involve ‘strategies of self-transformation within the worldly immanence of everyday life’. Nelson’s final task is to make explicit the implications of these casestudies for the articulation of a truly intercultural philosophy. How is the idea of a properly intercultural philosophy to be understood? He makes clear that it is not a form of multiculturalism, for it has nothing to do with simply ‘juxtaposing’ the differences between the relevant ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ thinkers; nor is it a matter of uncovering an underlying identity – an approach which has tended to weigh the dice in favour of Western philosophical categories. The task is, rather, ‘to reveal the multi-perspectivality and multi-directionality of thinking’, and Nelson makes clear that thinking is the issue, for philosophy is ‘thinking about the matter to be thought’, and ‘[t]he matter to be encountered and thought that philosophy would name is broader in scope than Western intellectual history or the history of Western metaphysics and onto-theology from ancient Greece to modernity’. A multicultural conception of philosophy would leave us with no way of relating and assessing the relevant approaches, and Nelson is right to reject a relativism along these lines. As for the idea that there could be some unifying essence, we can agree likewise that this is no good if the relevant unifying element is inimical to anything non-Western. The notion of thinking or reason might seem to be a peculiarly Western concept, particularly if we bear in mind the tendency there has supposedly been to relegate anything non-Western to the category of the irrational. However, Nelson’s conception of thinking/reason exceeds these parameters, and we are to suppose that it is expansive enough to accommodate the relevant Eastern thoughts. As he puts it, ‘[p]hilosophy occurs where thinking occurs 344 Reviews rather than being defined as a property of one historical tradition from ancient Greece to modern Europe’. But how is such thinking to be understood? Nelson talks at one point of the importance of moving beyond ‘modern Western theoretical and calculative means-ends thinking’. We can agree that there is more to rationality than the instrumental conception, and that modern Western theory must be transcended if defined in terms of these limits. However, these limits are not mandatory, and it was fundamental to Heidegger and his successors that we exceed these strictures to embrace a conception of reason which is broad enough to accommodate a non-instrumental dimension (an analogous move has been enacted in analytic philosophy). They also register a distaste for the Western tradition of metaphysics and onto-theology, and take the task of philosophy to be bound up with one’s spiritual transformation. We know also that many of them are receptive to Eastern ways of thinking, as Nelson himself concedes and illustrates. There is a question then of what it could mean to describe their approach as Eurocentric, and, as far as Heidegger is concerned, whether this label isn’t just a way of acknowledging his (perfectly reasonable) insistence that a truly radical philosophy must begin with an interrogation of its own historical roots and trajectory. Heidegger’s attraction to Eastern philosophy arises in part because it offers the prospects for defending a this-worldly spirituality, and much of Nelson’s discussion is devoted to the question of what it could mean to dwell immanently and poetically within the world. Some of the issues and solutions are familiar from similar debates within Judeo-Christian theology and philosophy of religion, and Nelson illustrates the interactions and conflicts between the relevant traditions. Heidegger makes clear that a focus upon this world is not intended to imply a contrast with something heavenly or spiritual – as if dwelling immanently in the world means that we are cut off from what really matters. The point is rather to undermine the way of thinking which leads us to suppose that what really matters lies in some inaccessible other-worldly realm so as to allow that the world in which we dwell – the only world there is – is already open to this supposedly ‘other’ dimension. Analogous moves have been made in theology, and the position has important implications for an understanding of the relation between immanence and transcendence, and the limits of humanism and spirituality. It means for a start that one can reject ‘other-worldly’ realities without being an atheist. The more radical implication is that the atheist is complicit in the offending dualistic framework. 345 Reviews It is unsurprising in the light of these issues that the question of how best to classify a figure or position from within these parameters can be wholly unclear – witness the relevant interpretative conflicts in the history of philosophy. The case of Confucius yields a similar aporia, and Nelson describes the way in which certain ‘secularists’ (Voltaire, Popper-Lynkaeus, Neurath, among others) enlist him to the project of developing a ‘purely immanent’ ethics. Others (Leibniz, Wolff, Misch, Buber) lend emphasis to the religious dimension of his position, and Malebranche makese a link with Spinoza’s pantheism. Spinoza’s pantheism raises similar interpretative difficulties, and there is a question of how this ‘unity of the natural and the divine’ is to be understood. Spinoza is not happily classified as an atheist, and there are important implications here for an understanding of the disagreements with which Nelson is concerned. The idea of a ‘purely immanent’ ethics suggests the kind of framework it was Heidegger’s purpose to undermine, and an interpretation of Confucius along these lines could be as wide of the mark as an analogous reading of Spinoza. Nelson puts paid to the idea that philosophy is an exclusively Western spiritual achievement, but there is a question of where this leaves the distinction between Chinese and Western philosophy. The distinction is central to his argument given his wish to expose and to correct the tendency to reduce everything to a single Western paradigm. Yet he acknowledges that philosophy concerns the universal rather than the cultural, and this might be thought to imply that our real concern should be philosophy itself rather than anything specifically Chinese or Buddhist or European – after all, we don’t distinguish between Chinese and European physics or biology, and science is similarly universal in its scope. Granting a distinction between philosophical approaches allows us to acknowledge difference as well as similarity. As Dan Zahavi has recently put it, ‘[a]n increasing number of philosophers are now active bridge-builders. They work in and with different traditions, and are actively pursuing philosophical insights wherever they are to be found’.1 A panacea for the drive to reduce philosophy to a single idea, and one such idea – prevalent both now and at the time of Heidegger – is that philosophy is continuous with natural science. There is a question of what such a claim really amounts to, but it ‘Analytic and Continental Philosophy: From Duality through Plurality to (Some Kind of) Unity’, Analytic and Continental Philosophy: Methods and Perspectives, Proceedings of the 37th Wittgenstein Symposium (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016). 1 346 Reviews threatens to compromise Nelson’s intercultural approach – assuming that there is no peculiarly Chinese or European science. The claim cannot be that philosophy is reducible to natural science lest we be saddled with a self-refuting position, and assuming that the two disciplines can be distinguished it remains open that an intercultural approach is more conducive to philosophy’s aim. It remains to be seen where this leaves the enigmatic sounding ‘matter to be encountered and thought’, but we can agree that the thinking in question must press on beyond the limits of any particular philosophical approach. Fiona Ellis Fiona.Ellis@roehampton.ac.uk This review first published online 11 October 2018 Spirituality and the Good Life: Philosophical Approaches Edited by David McPherson Cambridge University Press, 2017. 248pp., £75 ISBN: 9781316459461 doi:10.1017/S0031819118000438 In this volume, David McPherson has gathered a diverse group of philosophers to address what role the concept of spirituality ought to play in our account of good human lives. The volume should be of great interest to those working in both religious and secular ethics. For those working within a particular religious tradition, the volume deals with concepts of obvious importance, such as piety, transcendence, spiritual practice, prayer, religion, and the spiritual and spirituality more broadly. For those working within a secular vein, the volume addresses aspects of human life that have long been recognized across cultures as very important, if not essential, to our account of the good life, which secular theorists either tend to ignore or are very hard pressed to explain. At the very least, this volume helps both parties to address in a more serious way the increasing identification of secular persons with the spiritual, all the while distancing themselves from religion. It deserves to be widely read and carefully considered. The essays in the volume are susceptible to multiple categorizations, but for the purposes of this review can be carved into the following broad categories: (1) how the good of spirituality is theorized within specific religious traditions; (2) how to define and place the spiritual dimension of human life generally; (3) how secularism might make room for spirituality. 347