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(2016) Phenomenology and intercultural understanding, Dordrecht, Springer.

Self-transformation and the ethical telos

orientative philosophy in Lao Sze-Kwang, Foucault and Husserl

Kwok-Ying Lau

pp. 125-151

Is philosophy essentially a purely cognitive and theoretical enterprise? This is one of the central issues in the recent debate around the so-called "problem of the legitimacy of Chinese philosophy" in the academic community of Cultural China. Those who contest the legitimacy of the expression "Chinese philosophy" argue mainly from the observation that traditional Chinese thought is basically ethical and practical in orientation. Such standpoint is grounded on a determinate Idea of philosophy which prescribes that philosophy is essentially a cognitive and theoretical enterprise. Thus traditional Chinese thought, owning to its overwhelming ethico-practical interests, does not have the right to claim to be philosophy. This is a position in echo with that of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, who declared in his famous Vienna Lecture of 1935, "Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity", that "it is a mistake, a falsification of their sense, for those raised in the scientific ways of thinking created in Greece and developed in the modern period, to speak of Indian and Chinese philosophy." Husserl's judgement is based on his own predetermined Idea of philosophy as "pure thêoria", which is in turn based on his own understanding of the philosophico-scientific attitude of the Greeks as a "purely theoretical attitude". Any form of thinking which does not conform to this Idea cannot be claimed to be genuine philosophy. Such a position is obtained by making a determining judgment in the Kantian sense. This is a judgement operated in a top-down way out of a certain idea which has a quasi a priori status, thus rendering it undisputable. In consequence it has a strong tendency to exclude and exhibits a somewhat hegemonic character.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-44764-3_8

Full citation:

Lau, K.-Y. (2016). Self-transformation and the ethical telos: orientative philosophy in Lao Sze-Kwang, Foucault and Husserl, in Phenomenology and intercultural understanding, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 125-151.

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