Can the Subaltern Speak?

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Chapter 5

Case Analysis IV: A Cross-Tradition Examination—Philosophical Concern with Truth in Classical Daoism

It is philosophically interesting and significant to explore the philosophical concern with truth from a vantage point that crosses traditions, instead of looking at it exclusively within one single philosophical tradition (i.e., the Western philosophical tradition). Such exploration can not only enhance our understanding of the nature, scope and characteristics of the philosophical concern with truth but also provide alternative perspectives to our treatment of some of the involved issues. Clearly, the current essay has neither space nor capacity to exhaustively examine all the relevant endeavors in various philosophical traditions. I will focus on the case in the Chinese philosophical tradition. This focus has one more reason: it is especially philosophically interesting and significant to explore the case in Chinese philosophy for the following consideration. As I will introduce below, some scholars argue that the dominant concern in classical Chinese philosophy is the dao ( ) concern which is essentially different from the truth concern and thus that there is no significant truth concern in classical Chinese philosophy. In view of this challenge, I focus further on the case of philosophical Daoism whose dao concern is a trademark of the dao concern of classical Chinese philosophy. Arguably, the exploration of the relation between the truth concern and the dao concern of philosophical Daoism will substantially contribute to our understanding of the nature, scope and characteristics of the philosophical concern with truth. As far as the relation of the current chapter to the preceding chapters is concerned, on the one hand, the discussions in the preceding chapters provide necessary theoretical preparation in several ways to be explained. On the other hand, as I will argue in the subsequent sections, the examination in the current chapter will not only enhance our understanding of, and illustrate, some relevant points made in the preceding chapters, but also contribute to our understanding and treatment of the philosophical concern with truth in some philosophically interesting connections. In the following, in Section 5.1, I will give a background introduction regarding the truth concern and the dao concern. This will involve referring to some seemingly plausible observations related to evaluating the due status of the truth concern in Chinese philosophy, presenting some relevant challenging questions, and explaining my strategy of treating what is at issue. In Sections 5.2 and 5.3, I examine the relation of the dao concern and the truth concern in classical Daoism. In Section 5.2,

B. Mou, Substantive Perspectivism, Synthese Library 344, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2623-1_5, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

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5 Case Analysis IV

I focus on Lao Zi’s case in the Dao-De-Jing, while in Section 5.3, I focus on Zhuang Zi’s case. In Section 5.4, I explore the situation of the truth-predicate-like phrases in the classical Chinese language in view of those reflective points previously made regarding the truth concern in philosophical Daoism. With a due background introduction in Section 5.1, I will further elaborate my strategy at the end of that section.

5.1 Truth Concern and Dao Concern
It seems that the truth concern, generally speaking, and the truth pursuit, specifically speaking, is a dominant concern and pursuit in the Western tradition while the dao concern, generally speaking, and the dao pursuit, specifically speaking, is a dominant concern and pursuit in the Chinese tradition. What is the relation between the truth concern and the dao concern? Are they dramatically and totally different reflective concerns in philosophy? It seems to some authors1 that traditional Chinese philosophy, especially the pre-Han Chinese philosophy,2 is not concerned with truth. This conclusion has been...
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