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Dao

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 305–330 | Cite as

Incongruent Names: A Theme in the History of Chinese Philosophy

  • Paul J. D’AmbrosioEmail author
  • Hans-Rudolf Kantor
  • Hans-Georg Moeller
Article

Abstract

This essay is meant to shed light on a discourse that spans centuries and includes different voices. To be aware of such trans-textual resonances can add a level of historical understanding to the reading of philosophical texts. Specifically, we intend to demonstrate how the notion of the ineffable Dao 道, prominently expressed in the Daodejing 道德經, informs a long discourse on incongruent names (ming 名) in distinction to a mainstream paradigm that demands congruity between names and what they designate. Thereby, we trace the development of the idea of the ineffable Dao quite differently from modern mystical interpretations. We show how, in an early Chinese context, it first gives rise to a sociopolitical critique of the incongruity underlying socially constructed names in the Zhuangzi 莊子, then to a discourse on the incongruity between moral virtues and names in Xuanxue 玄學 philosophy, and eventually to Sengzhao’s 僧肇 claim that a perceived congruence of names with things does not entail actual congruence between names and reality.

Keywords

Incongruity Names (ming 名) Zhuangzi 莊子 Xuanxue 玄學 Sengzhao 僧肇 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul J. D’Ambrosio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hans-Rudolf Kantor
    • 2
  • Hans-Georg Moeller
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Institute of Modern Chinese Thought and CultureEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Graduate Institute of Asian HumanitiesHuafan University, TaipeiNew Taipei CityTaiwan
  3. 3.Philosophy and Religious Studies ProgramUniversity of MacauMacauChina

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