, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 177-193
Date: 29 May 2008

On “viewing things” and “viewing nothing”: A dialogue between Confucianism and Phenomenology

Abstract

In traditional Chinese expressions, guannian 观念 (ideas) are results of guan 观 (viewing). However, viewing can be understood to have two different levels of meanings: one is “viewing things,” that is, viewing with something to view; another is “viewing nothing,” that is, viewing with nothing to view. What are viewed in “viewing things” are either physical beings—all existing things and phenomena—or the metaphysical being (for example, the “Dao as a thing”). In both cases, something is being viewed. What is viewed in “viewing nothing” is the being itself, or “nothing,” in which there is nothing to view. According to Confucianism, the existence of “nothing” manifests itself as life sentiments, especially the sentiment of love, which is the very root and source of benevolence; moreover “viewing nothing” is, in essence, a perception of life. Life sentiments or the perception of life is “the thing itself ” prior to any being or any thing.

摘要

在汉语所表达的中国人的思想中, 一切 “观念” 皆出于 “观”。 “观” 有两层不同的意义: 一是 “观物”, 是有所观之观; 二是 “观无”, 是无所观之观。 “观物” 之所观者, 或者是形而下的存在者、 “万物”, 或者是形而上的存在者、 “道之为物”, 故有所观; 而 “观无” 之所观者, 则是存在本身, 是 “无物”、 “无”, 故无所观。 在儒家, 这种 “无物” 的存在本身, 就是作为大本大源的生活情感, 尤其是爱的情感; 而 “观无” 作为无所观之观, 实质上是一种生活领悟。 这样的生活情感、 生活领悟, 是先行于任何存在者、 任何物的 “事情本身”。

Translated by Liu Huawei from Sichuan Daxue Xuebao 四川大学学报 (Journal of Sichuan University), 2006, (4): 67–74