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Feng Youlan’s Research into the History of Philosophy and Philosophical Creation

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With regard to the study of the general history of Chinese philosophy and the creation of a philosophical system, Feng Youlan (Fung Yu-lan) has still not been surpassed in the circle of contemporary Chinese philosophy. His text A History of Chinese Philosophy (in two volumes) has particular value not only because of its description of the history of Chinese philosophy, but also because of its historical linking of antiquity and modernity, and of China and the West, a feat realized through philosophy. His philosophical system, set forth in the Six Books of Zhenyuan 貞元六書 (six philosophical monographs) and widely known as the New Learning of Principle system, has ontologically established the primacy of Principle, and, culturally, has instantiated the process of modernization, all of which retains its significance even today. Feng’s thought on realms in his philosophy of life is centered around understanding-based self-enlightenment and has opened a new perspective for reflective thought about, and understanding of, Chinese philosophy. However, it falls short in its failure to acknowledge that “understanding-based self-enlightenment should also be a dynamic process of practice.” Feng showed his academic orientation, distinguished by syncretizing the Learning of Principle and the Learning of Mind, by integrating philosophical creation into the research on the history of philosophy in his late years; however, this syncretism can be pushed further with regard to the issue of unity between subject and object—continuity between the investigation of things before complete understanding and complete enlightenment of the mind after the complete understanding of things. Feng thinks in A Short History of Chinese Philosophy that the most significant contribution that Chinese philosophy has made to the world is in its philosophy of life, and, subsequent to this assertion, one can point out that Chinese philosophy can also make contributions in terms of methodology. In Chinese philosophy, benevolence has an ontological meaning, and is the ontological basis for man and all the other beings to exist in the oneness, as well as the ontological basis for man and the world to be united. Chinese philosophy contains valuable insights in overcoming the opposition between subject and object, establishing a new view of subjects, a new view of objects, and, consequently, creating a new type of subject-object relationship and realizing a second enlightenment of the world.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, Beijing 100091, China E-mail: 13910637825@163.com

10.3868/s030-007-018-0003-6
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/content/journals/10.3868/s030-007-018-0003-6
2018-05-02
2018-11-19

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