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The Role of Time in the Structure of Chinese Logic

Jinmei Yuan
Philosophy East and West
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan., 2006), pp. 136-152
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4488004
Page Count: 17
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The Role of Time in the Structure of Chinese Logic
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Abstract

Ancient Chinese logicians presupposed no fixed order in the world. Things are changing all the time. Time, then, plays a crucial role in the structure of Chinese logic. This article uses the concept of "subjective time" and the Leibnizian concept of "possible worlds" to analyze the structure of logic in the Later Mohist Canon and in the logical reasoning of other early Chinese philosophers. The author argues that Chinese logic is structured in the time of the now. This time is subjective and "spreads out" to more than one possible world. Chinese logicians had to deal with relationships in not only a single world but also more than one "possible world." The aim of Chinese logical reasoning is not to represent any universal truth but to point out (zhi I') a particular-world-related truth, or, in other words, the harmony of relations among particulars in a particular field at a single moment. Therefore, a valid Chinese logical argument represents only the beauty of harmony among possible worlds at a given moment. The harmony represented by Chinese logic brings to light a high level of aesthetic order in a world that is always changing.

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