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The Wiseman and the Sage: Metaphysics as Wisdom in Aristotle and the Neo-Confucian School of Principle

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Among scholars of classical philosophy in the West, it is not uncommon to hesitate about the existence of metaphysics in non-Western philosophical traditions. At times, the dilemma seems due to culture-specific ideas or standards about what metaphysics is or how it should be done. Other times the problem seems to lie in a general lack of awareness about the methods and approaches of divergent philosophical traditions. This article explores an often ignored Aristotelian notion of metaphysics: That it is wisdom. If we acknowledge wisdom to be a common value or ideal found in different cultures, then characterizing metaphysics as wisdom promises to be more inclusive than prevalent ideas about it, being broad enough to allow for the appreciation of metaphysical insights and achievements in non-Western schools. I first examine Aristotle’s account of what wisdom consists of. I shall then test the inclusivity of this conception of metaphysics by showing how its characteristic features are manifest in the Neo-Confucian ideal of sagely learning.

10.3868/s030-002-013-0008-1
/content/journals/10.3868/s030-002-013-0008-1
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/content/journals/10.3868/s030-002-013-0008-1
2013-01-01
2016-12-11

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