Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ziporyn on Xunzi VII

Scott Bradley

In this, the final post of this series, I return again to the more general issue that I raised in the second post of the series, namely, how do I engage Xunzi, not in a confrontational manner, but in one that is able to affirm his thought despite my disagreements.

Were I strictly scholarly (within my limits) this would probably not be an issue; the scholar takes neutral ground and simply wishes to understand. But I must admit to being sectarian as an advocate for the position of Zhuangzi whom Xunzi set about to refute. But Zhuangzi's position is one that aims at ending sectarianism. The challenge, therefore, is not to defend Zhuangzi in a refutation of Xunzi, but to realize the freedom from sectarian opinion that Zhuangzi advocated.

Assuming that Zhuangzi in some way approximated his own ideal, at least in his writing, if not in his life, then we can say that disagreement and refutation are not inconsistent with his philosophy, since he often does just that to make his points. This leaves us with the more subtle and difficult possibility of a simultaneity of refutation and affirmation. Or put simply: it's the attitude that matters.

Keeping this in mind, I find comments on the back face of Ziporyn's Ironies of Oneness and Difference quite helpful:
Mere awareness of how many different ways human beings can think and have thought about these categories is itself a game changer for our own attitudes toward what is thinkable for us. The actual inhabitation and mastery of these alternative modes of thinking is an even greater adventure in intellectual and experiential expansion.
I cannot think of a better apologetic for this present enterprise.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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