PHIL3541 Mind and Language in Chinese Thought

Issues in the philosophy of mind and language played a crucial role in the philosophical discourse of classical China. This course will guide students in reconstructing this role and exploring its philosophical significance by interpreting and critically evaluating selected early Chinese philosophical texts that treat mind, language, and interrelated aspects of psychology. Topics to be discussed include the nature and functions of names and speech; the role of “correcting names”; semantic theory and argumentation; perception and knowledge; the role of language in knowledge and action; and the ontological grounds of linguistic distinctions. Texts to be discussed include the Analects, Guǎnzǐ, Mòzǐ, Mèngzǐ, Dàodéjīng, Xúnzǐ, Zhuāngzǐ, and Lǚ's Annals.

Lecture Topics

1. Introduction: Language, Mind, and the Way
2. “Correcting Names” and Core Features of Early Discourse on Language
3. Distinctions, Models, and Statements in Early Mohism
4. Language and Meaning: Some Comparative Remarks
5. Semantic Theory in the Mohist Dialectics
6. Distinction-Drawing, Models, and Argumentation in Mohism
7. Language and Logic in Xúnzǐ
8. Truth in Mohism and Xúnzǐ
9. Knowledge and Error in Mohism and Xúnzǐ
10. The Dàodéjīng and Skepticism About Language
11. Language and the Way in Zhuāngzǐ
12. Zhuāngzǐ: Mind and Action Beyond Language