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Liangzhi and the Interpretative Obfuscation Regarding Knowledge

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This article aims to argue that interpreting liangzhi 良知 as innate, original, or cognitive knowledge is likely to fall into “interpretative obfuscation regarding knowledge.” First, for Wang, what is inherent in mankind is moral agency rather than innate or original knowledge. Therefore, the focus of zhizhi 致 知 and gewu 格物 is instead on moral practice and actualization of virtue rather than on either “the extension of knowledge” or “the investigation of things.” Apart from that, drawing support from cognitive knowledge to explicate liangzhi also leads to three related but distinct misconceptions: liangzhi as perfect knowledge, the identity of knowledge and action, and liangzhi as recognition or acknowledgement. By clarifying the above misinterpretations, the meaning and implication of liangzhi will, in turn, also become clearer.

Affiliations: 1: School of Philosophy, Fudan University


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