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PHL237H1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Antinomy, Taoism, Huayan

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Vincent Shen
Study Guide

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Some Major Questions in the History of Chinese Philosophy (Extra questions besides those of
Lectures 14-16. For these please see “questions to study” at the end of each lecture.)
About Classical Confucianism
1.Explain the meaning of ren, yi, li according to Confucius and their relationship.
2.In Confucius, what is a negative golden rule? What is a positive golden rule? Explain them in term
of ‘reciprocity.”
3.Explain Mencius’ the following three distinctions: “human vs animal”, “yi (righteousness) vs li
(profit)”, and “despot vs king”.
4.Your critical comments on Fung’s putting yi(righteousness) and li(profit) into opposition in both
Confucius and Mencius. Is it true that Confucius and Mencius have opposed righteousness to profit?
Explain why.
5.Explain what does Xunzi mean by “realizing the distinctive function of Heaven and man”.
About Daoism
1. Explain the concept of de (power or virtue) in Laozi and compare it with the Confucian concept of
2. Explain Zhuangzi’s solution to the antinomy of “There is a first cause” and “There is no first
cause” of the universe.
3. How does Zhuangzi see how human self is constituted, or, in other words, the constitution of
human subjectivity? Empirical ego? Authentic self?
4. Explain the meaning of Zhuangzi’s dream of becoming a butterfly.
5. Explain Zhuangzi’s dynamic ontology of relation, and the dialectics between freedom and relation
in the narrative of the Butcher Ding.
About Chinese Mahayana Buddhism
1.What is the meaning of Tiantai’s doctrine of “perfect harmony of three levels of truth”?
2.Explain the relation between one and many according to Huayan Buddhism.
3.What is the meaning, with your criticism, of shouting and beating in Chan Buddhism after Linji?
About Neo-Confucianism
1. Explain how Confucianism is revived as Neo-Confucianism in Song Dynasty after eight centuries
of silence.
2. Explain the basic philosophical ideas in Zhou Dunyi’s Explanation of the Diagram of the Great
3.Explain Zhu Xi’s concepts of li and the different layers of its meaning (and criticize its possible
confusion from the point of view of philosophy of language).
4.Explain Zhu Xi’s philosophy of religion( issues like ghost and spirit, offering to ancestors, Lord of
5.Criticize Fung’s naming Zhu Xi’s thought as “the School of Platonic Ideas” and his understanding
that Zhu Xi has given a metaphysical justification to Mencius’ psychology.
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