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C O U R S E 
Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science
Edward Slingerland, University of British Columbia
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Language Crisis in the Warring States Period
Notes taken on May 30, 2019 by Edward Tanguay
Warring States literature
Early Warring States
Tao Te Ching
the core part of Mohism (Mozi)
Late Warring States
concerned with language and how it relates to what we can know
two innovations that separate the early and late warring states literature
the language crisis
people are getting concerned about how words relate to reality
philosophical vocabulary
you are not philosophically sophisticated unless you know this vocabulary
a good marker
the physiological turn
influenced by medicine
once these terms are created, they are used universally and hence a good marker
the language crisis
the Mohists
221 BCE, no evidence that Mohism survived
the Mozi only comes down as a received text of the Daoist canon
why did the Mohist school not survive
1. people regarded them as un-Chinese
impartial caring
not favoring your father
yet what was Chinese really hadn't been decided yet in the Warring States period
2. activists
defending cities
highly organized
the first emperor of Qin [chin] didn't like the idea of these armed bands running around, and systematically stamped them out
they were seen as a threat
The Mohist canons
came down to us in a fragmentary form
late 19th century, Chinese scholars began to reconstruct them
1978, A.C. Graham, "Later Mohist Logic, Ethics and Science"
presents a reconstruction of the Mohist canon
plausible and made these text accessible
essay "Names and Objects"
people debating about which statements of reality are the proper one
establishing the truth of propositional statements
the one who fits the facts is the winner
making arguments about reality in a competitive way
mingshi [MING-shur]
matching up objects with reality
goal: to make sure that we are consistent
get clear with how language hooks up with reality
to have consistent, reliable and accurate teachings
a sense of rightness that you have when you are a cultivated gentleman
yet for the Mohists, rightness is about objective doctrine
Mohists had instead a concern with language
Names and Objects: 17
"He cares for people" requires him to care for all people without exception, only then is he deemed to care for people.
caring for people means doing it without distinctions
caring for all people
defining terms avoids moral confusion
Names and Objects: 15
"Although robbers are people, loving robbers is not loving people, not loving robbers is not loving people, killing robbers is not killing people."
killing refers to executing
how can we execute robbers if they are people
what was meant is that once someone has robbed, they are now in a different category
you have to get your definitions right, otherwise you won't know how to guide your behavior
category or kind
like Aristotle
there are conditions for putting something in a box
robbers are not in the people box
they are in a separate box
mingjia, later Mohists
The School of Names
logic and argumentation
impartial caring
group of people involved in logical distinctions, how sentences work
against offensive warfare
in later literature they are made fun of
known as silly, logical hair splitters
mingjia was sometimes translated as sophists
used words to confuse people
Gongsun Long
"the white horse is not a horse"
the noun horse modified by the adjective white makes a new kind of horse
the story is that he got his white horse through customs with this argument so that he didn't have to pay taxes
this saying was used to label people who would use language to confuse people
we don't have enough of his teaching to understand what he was trying to say
Hui Shi [way shur]
"heaven and earth count as one unit"
"let your care spread to all the myriad things"
because we are all one
all of the teachings we have of the mingjia are conveyed by their enemies and so they tend to get portrayed in this caricatured way