Speech and nature: An introduction to the study of traditional Chinese scholarship
Posted on 16. Aug, 2010 by James Miller
|Title||Speech and nature: An introduction to the study of traditional Chinese scholarship|
|Year of Publication||2008|
|Authors||Andreacchio, Marco Antonio|
|ISBN Number||9780549643692, 0549643699|
|Keywords||Asian literature, Philosophy, Political science|
An authentic introduction to the scholarship of traditional China must proceed through an uprooting of the ideological obstacles or peculiarly modern biases ordinarily preventing us from understanding writers of the pre-modern past as they understood themselves. As the upshot of the unfolding of modernity, our age is dominated by the systematic rejection (not merely a fateful forgetfulness) of the very possibility--explored in all seriousness throughout China's pre-modern past--of a form of scholarship that attains to permanent features of reality underlying the "external," spatio-temporal "life-world" ( Lebenswelt ) 1 of experience. This dissertation argues that in order to understand pre-modern scholarship as it understands itself we must first recover what the early-modern Enlightenment abandoned for us--namely a pre-modern understanding of free inquiry (reason) and its ultimate foundations. Given the modern understanding of reason and its foundations, the general problem of "evidence"--as of the "authority" standing over and above inquiry--is often felt to be impervious to reason. If reason cannot penetrate evidence (authority) to its "essence/heart," then reason must rely on some standpoint "external" to evidence from which to judge of evidence: it must rely on either norms or feelings. Here we find the basis for the enduring tension between the conventionalist ("positivist") and the antinomian ("existentialist") impulses of contemporary scholarship. On the one hand, the conventionalist appeal to established norms fails to contain antinomian forces expressing deep-seated dissatisfaction with the positivistic or legalistic elevation of fixed rules to the highest standard of right. On the other hand, antinomian thought fails to illuminate a basis for civil society. If our understanding of "evidence" is to escape both dogmatic conventionalism and nihilistic antinomianism, we must regain access to an inquiry that is not banned from the "interiority" of evidence: is there a civil freedom that does not forsake the possibility of discovering its own foundation as it is in itself ? This dissertation responds to the threat of antinomianism, not by appealing to conceptual constructs or reinvented/re-appropriated traditions, but by reading Chinese pre-modern scholarship in search for a pre-modern understanding of the interplay of evidence/authority, reason/free-inquiry, and their ground. 1 Cf. Edmund Husserl. 1970 . The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology [ Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie ]. Northwestern UP: Evanston; esp. Part III: "The Clarification of the Transcendental Problem and the Related Function of Psychology," §29, 34, 37, 38, 44, 51.