, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 585-608
Date: 18 Nov 2011

Form and formless: A discussion with the authors of Anticipating China


Chinese culture is neither the first problematic thinking (analogy) claimed by the authors of Anticipating China, nor the second one (logical inference). On the one hand, analogies are one of the most remarkable aspects of Chinese thinking, while on the other hand, Yin-Yang, Dao and Fo are all universal codes that could neither be reached by analogy nor by logical inference. In fact, both the first and second problematic thinking share the same world view, taking the world as a composite, and the difference lies merely in whether the components are irreplaceable particulars or substitutable elements. Both build their knowledge on the components and how they combine. In the terms of this paper, both systems are constructed with spatially definable forms, real or nominal. The highest codes in Chinese culture are not built upon the physical properties of an object, and could never be found by analysing the object, physically or logically. Yin-Yang, Dao and Fo are names without form, and thus are thinking modes that cannot be described by a spatial concept. They are non-structural systems and a way of formless thinking.