Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chapter I Point III:
The directional development of thought in any particular culture is determined by the questions that come to the forefront. In western philosophy, there have been many such instances; the one and the many, empiricism and idealism and the like. Of course the questions Chinese thinkers and western thinkers pursued were different, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be any common ground from which to work. The German thinker Martin Heidegger proposed that the basic question any traditional addresses is that of being itself. That is to say what does it mean to exist at all. He added, however, that the question in itself was so radical that in order to lead the everyday lives we do, the question needed to be bracketed or put aside. The origin of individual cultures then was a response to that basic question, as there could be no definitive answer given. Taken in this way, it would make sense that there would be cultural differences, as we all tend to react to our own existence differently. On the other side, there also has to be some commonality among traditions to be able to recognize each others differences. That is to say, if there were nothing to compare, there could be nothing to contrast either; any cross-cultural dialogue would be incomprehensible if not for the basic starting ground of a shared humanity. With this in mind, we will proceed to look at some of the particular questions and methods used by Chinese thinkers to advance their particular response to the question of existence.

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