Interview with Liu Jiahe: Rational Structure-Comparing the Fundamental Similarities and Differences of Chinese and Western Thinking

2020-06-23 | By Historian | Filed in: World.





[Collection of Views]


Rationality has different contents and categories, and different types of rationality form different rational structures. Although the outbreak of rationality is the common feature of Chinese and Western civilizations in the axial era, their rational structures are not the same.

 

Logical rationality dominates western thinking, while historical rationality leads Chinese thinking. This difference in rational structure is the fundamental reason for the difference in thinking between China and the West. The key to the difference between Chinese and Western civilizations lies in the difference in rational structure.

 

Logical rationality dominates in western civilization and historical rationality dominates in Chinese civilization, which lies in the difference of dichotomy. Part of the reason for the difference in dichotomy between China and the West can be traced back to the difference in their respective languages. Different language features are the source of different Chinese and Western cultures.


[Abstract]

Regarding the characteristics of the deep structure of Chinese culture, from Hegel to Derrida, western academic circles have formed a prejudice that China has no reason and no philosophy. Previous Chinese scholars have found some similarities and differences between Chinese and Western cultures in terms of material, system and ideology, but they have neglected the role of rationality in Chinese and Western civilization. Rationality has different contents and categories. Different rational categories form different rational structures. Although the outbreak of rationality is the common feature of Chinese and Western civilizations in the axial era, their rational structures are not the same. The rational structure in the ancient west includes logical rationality, natural rationality and practical rationalityMoral reason, aesthetic reason,However, there is a lack of historical rationality. Its rational structure is dominated by pure rationality and logical rationality occupies a dominant position. China’s rational structure includes historical rationality, natural rationality, moral rationality and logical thinking, but it has not developed logical rationality, of which historical rationality occupies a dominant position. Logical rationality dominates western thinking, while historical rationality leads Chinese thinking. This difference in rational structure is the fundamental reason for the difference in thinking between China and the West. The key to the difference between Chinese and Western civilizations lies in the difference in rational structure. Logical rationality dominates in western civilization and historical rationality dominates in Chinese civilization, which lies in the difference of dichotomy. Part of the reason for the difference in dichotomy between China and the West can be traced back to the difference in their respective languages. Different language features are the source of different Chinese and Western cultures.

[Key words]

The way of thinking; Rational structure; Logical rationality; Historical rationality; Dichotomy


[Source of Article]Journal of Beijing Normal University (Social Science Edition) No.3, 2020.The annotation of this WeChat article is omitted. Please quote it according to the original text.



I. Raising of Questions

The similarities and differences between Chinese and Western cultures can be seen everywhere at any time. If it is classified, it can generally be divided into: 1) material culture, 2) institutional culture and 3) ideological culture. From the perspective of occurrence, each former has a fundamental prerequisite for the latter. From the inside and outside level, each of the latter is deeper than the former. Therefore, in terms of the difficulty of communication and communication, each former is easier than the latter, and each latter is more difficult than the former. The mode of thinking belongs to the ideological and cultural level. The purpose of this article is to make some tentative discussions on the core issues of similarities and differences between Chinese and Western modes of thinking.

The comparison of Chinese and Western ways of thinking has been a topic of concern to the academic community for many years. The hard work of the former sages has enabled us to have a considerable understanding of the similarities and differences between China and the West. The following is a brief introduction to their views.

Mr. Wang Guowei said: “It is both practical and popular to suppress the characteristics of the Chinese people. The characteristics of westerners are speculative and scientific. They are good at abstraction and classification. They do not need the two methods of Generalization and Specification for all tangible and intangible things in the world.” He added: “The strength of our country lies in practice, while in theory, we are satisfied with specific knowledge. As for classification, we are almost not willing to study it except for actual needs.”

Mr. Lin Yutang believes that compared with the West, China does not have a systematic philosophy; China attaches great importance to practice, attaches great importance to practice, and does not attach importance to metaphysics. Don’t pay attention to logic, especially don’t like abstract terms; China attaches great importance to emotion, straightforward feeling, settling down and living, and seeking feasible ways. The difference between China and the West “can be said to be the difference between intuition and logic, understanding and reasoning”.

Mr. Tang Junyi stressed that Chinese culture does not attach importance to the free will of individuals. Rational activities that do not attach importance to reason; Do not attach importance to scientific knowledge. “Western philosophers must first talk about logic, epistemology, metaphysics and ontology, and finally philosophy of life, ethics and politics. However, the development of ancient Chinese learning went the other way, from politics, ethics and the way of life. However, from the way of life to know heaven and nature, and finally from the theory of epistemology.”

In Knowledge and Culture, Mr. Zhang Dongsun pointed out that compared with the West, Chinese philosophy has three characteristics: 1) Chinese philosophy is not western philosophy of substance and causal philosophy, but “function philosophy”. This philosophy emphasizes the “integral whole” of nature and society, pays attention to changes and mutual relations, and holds that individuals in society are like eyes and ears in people, “each does his own duty to realize his whole”. The duties of monarch, minister, father and son in society are the same as those of Gankun Kandui in nature, and all are for the whole. 2) Chinese philosophy is not formal philosophy, because Chinese people do not belong to or belong to, there is no definition of genus plus species difference, and they do not attach importance to differences in classification. 3) Chinese philosophy does not pursue “final reality”. Because Chinese people do not attach importance to ontology, there is no distinction between reality and phenomenon. “Strictly speaking, China has only ‘practical philosophy’ but no pure philosophy”.

Mr. Zhang Dainian, a historian of philosophy, listed six differences between China and the West: 1) Combining knowledge with practice. 2) One-day man. 3) The same truth and goodness. 4) Emphasis is placed on life rather than knowledge. 5) Emphasis is placed on enlightenment rather than argumentation. 6) Neither is attached to science nor religion. These six articles are completely opposite to the West. Mr. Zhang said that of these six articles, his predecessor Mr. Xiong Shili summed up three and he added three himself.

Former sages analyzed the differences between Chinese and Western thinking characteristics from many aspects. Based on their views, we can make the following classifications. In terms of ontology, the West pays attention to the existence of metaphysics, while China attaches importance to physical reality. In terms of cosmology, the West pursues the origin of all things, while China emphasizes the overall world outlook of harmony between man and nature. In terms of epistemology, the West relies on speculation to master knowledge, while China relies on empirical understanding and intuition. In terms of logic, the West has developed a logic system, while China does not attach importance to it. In ethics, the West emphasizes the importance of free will, while China focuses on moral practice and human relations. According to Jaspers’ research, China and Greece entered the “Axis Age” in the same period. The above discussions reveal in which aspects China and Greece in the Axis Age developed their own characteristics, and their correctness is self-evident. However, they ignored one point: the role of reason in the two civilizations. Although the outbreak of rationality is the common feature of several civilizations in the Axis Age, the rational structure shown by each civilization is different. This article holds that from the axis era onwards, the fundamental difference between China and the West is the difference in rational structure.

Second, the different rational structure is the fundamental reason for the different thinking between China and the West.

(1) Rational Structure of Western Thinking

Rational structure refers to a system composed of various human rationality, in which the roles played by various parts of rationality vary to a certain extent. What are the parts of reason? There are pure reason, practical reason, aesthetic reason, natural reason and historical reason. Pure reason has nothing to do with people’s life. It is pure logical reasoning and the application of concepts. Its basis is mathematics and geometry. The characteristic of logical rationality is that logical deduction can be carried out. Once logical deduction is reached, it is divorced from time and beyond the scope of historical rationality. Plato is not clear about practical rationality. Aristotle made it very clear. Among his “politics” and “ethics”, the most obvious practical rationality is moral rationality or ethics. The Greek root of Ethics is ethos, which means custom or character. The Latin root of morality is mos, and the corresponding English is custom. Natural rationality is people’s understanding of the laws expressed in nature. Historical rationality is people’s discussion and exploration of the reason and certain rules of the historical process, and they realize that history is the unity of constant and change: to grasp constant from change and change from constant. In addition, there is aesthetic reason. Since Plato and Aristotle, the issue of beauty has often been discussed. Aristotle discussed aesthetics in Poetics. He believes that poetics involves not a specific person, but something typical and general, and typical has certain eternity and generality. The question of whether history is rational was raised later in the western philosophy circle. Westerners believe that history has no reason because they emphasize that truth or pure reason can only be grasped in eternity. This idea can be traced back to ancient Greece. It can be said that the rational structure in the ancient west includes logical rationality, natural rationality, practical rationality/moral rationality and aesthetic rationality, but lacks historical rationality. The rational structure is dominated by pure rationality.

The Greek natural rationality is manifested in their natural philosophy. They also put forward a view similar to China’s “Five Elements”: water, fire, earth and wind. Later Aristotle added ether. As the origin of the world, these elements work alone or in combination, but none of them can explain the world phenomenon convincingly. Although each theory has certain empirical observation and logical reasoning, it has not achieved the dominant convincing power. Therefore, when he arrived at Parmenides, he found another way and created an abstract way of thinking. He pointed out that these ontological viewpoints in the past were all studies of nature, did not touch on the most fundamental things, did not involve eternal things, because water, wind, ground and fire are all active, and the primitive must be static and eternal. Eternal is “being”. This is a leap in human thought, starting a philosophy of abstract reasoning based on logic. The theory of the Five Elements in China changes synchronic things into diachronic, circular and historical, and serves politics. Greece, on the other hand, kept the four primitive things within the synchronic range. We may say that this is related to the reason why Greece has no historical knowledge, and also to Parmenides’s personal prevention of the formation of the diachronic theory of the “four elements”.

Parmenides’ existence/existence has three characteristics: first, abstraction and the highest universality; The second is beyond time and will remain unchanged forever. The third is to transcend space, in China, in the United States and anywhere. These characteristics determine that ontology is not historical but logical. When Plato arrived, the situation changed. Plato also focused on analyzing one thing between knowledge and ignorance, which is called “opinions” (Parmenides put forward the difference between “truth” and “opinions”). Some opinions are meaningful but not absolute, so history is opinions in Plato’s view. Ancient Greek philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle, denied that history was rational. History is not taken a fancy to, because history is changing. One can only grasp the truth from eternity, not from change.

Logical rationality pursues eternal truth outside the sensory world, so it cannot rely on sensory organs to grasp it, but can rely on speculative and analytical methods to deduce it itself. Geometry uses several self-evident axioms to expand itself and deduce theorems to form the whole system. A is greater than B, B is greater than C, A is greater than C, always. Triangles rely on six basic functions (sine, cosine, tangent, cotangent, secant, cotangent) to study the whole trigonometry without going out to observe objective things. If you work behind closed doors, you will definitely go out in the same way. The Greeks believe that history is irrational, because history is changing, yesterday was, today may not be, today is, tomorrow may not be. To grasp everything, the object must be forever, must transcend time, and become eternal. “Yes” must be infinite and transcend space. This is reasonable from geometry, so Plato said: People who do not learn geometry cannot come to us. Aristotle also believed that mathematics that studies the existence of ontology and axioms belong to the same discipline.

There is a certain relationship between western logical rationality, natural science and religious belief. God/God is discovered by people from nature or reason. Socrates found that people’s facial features are arranged very reasonably, thus judging that they are designed. Of course, the designer is God. Aristotle’s idea that God is the first driving force solved natural phenomena that would otherwise not be explained. Until the 17th century, Newton still believed that those who were quiet were always quiet and those who moved were always moving. Who made the mover move? God/God is the best answer, God does not do useless work. Even a great philosopher like Kant cannot logically deny the existence of God. Logic is based on linguistics and abstracts human rationality into the connotation and extension of concept definition, judgment, qualitative judgment and quantitative judgment, all of which become logic. After the abstract logic is established, people must obey it. From the perspective of physics and religion, Greece’s belief in God and Christianity’s belief in God are logically deduced. It can also be said that God exists by logic.

Greek history is also very developed. Have the Greeks looked for historical laws? The answer is no. Greek historians attach great importance to historical truth. In order to preserve the struggle between Greece and barbarians, Greek historians must pursue the truth of history. They tried to find witnesses who were involved in the incident at that time. Herodotus wrote about the Bosch War, and he himself took part in the war. Thucydides was also a participant in the Peloponnesian War. The English word History has both the meaning of occurrence and the meaning of recording what happened. The Greeks also look for reasons for writing history, but there are limitations. The history they wrote is contemporary history, which is the idea that Greece is a city-state. Before entering the city-state, there was a dark “Homer era”. The writing of that era was broken and no one could understand it. That period of history is only in the form of myth and is left in Homer’s Epic in a daze. It cannot be written and is worthless. What Greek historians see is only contemporary. They no longer pay attention to myths, but focus on personnel. This is a great progress. History is limited to the contemporary era, so it is not easy to sum up laws and seek common things from changes. Collinwood pointed out that it is true that Greek historical works only care about what. Herodotus used the word Historia, which means questioning and investigating in Greek. The purpose is to emphasize the questioning of the parties or witnesses and to investigate the process of reconstruction.

One of the reasons for the lack of historical rationality in the early days of the West is on the empirical level. Before the real ancient Greek times, there were Crete civilization and Mycenaean civilization, but neither left any historical records or heritage. At the beginning of the 20th century, western archaeological circles discovered the linear characters A of Crete civilization and B of Mycenaean civilization. It was not until 1952 that British scholar Winteris interpreted the linear word B that he realized that it was Greek. This is a remarkable discovery, because the linear word B is completely different from Greek today, and there is no bridge between it. However, there are many bridges for Chinese to interpret oracle bone inscriptions, and there are reasons for the evolution of ancient and modern characters. The invasion of Doria destroyed Mycenaean civilization and Greece entered the so-called “dark age”. The invaders did not know the history of the previous period. The Mycenaean history described in Homer’s Epic, such as the Trojan War, is only a shadow and knows nothing about the real history. The cause of the sudden fault in Greek civilization is not clear. Many scholars believe that natural disasters are a possible cause. Regardless of what’s reasons, the result is that the Greeks have no cultural tradition to inherit and think about. Judging from the words of Greek writers, they hardly speak of the past history, and at most they mention one or two sentences vaguely. Civilization before the city-state era did not leave what’s historical tradition to the Greeks.

The Greek tradition is mythology. At first, God and man were the same, that is, personality God. The gods of Mount Olympus have human desires, thieves and prostitutes, cunning and incest. What is different from human beings is that they transcend death. The heroes of Mycenaean era were all the unity of man and God, and historical figures could not be clearly distinguished from God. As a literary work, myth has its value, and Homer’s Epic is a literary classic. In view of the fact that only myth and tradition remain, intellectuals have to ask: Is what the object of knowledge that people should master? What is the object that people should know? The answer is: nature. Taking nature rather than historical tradition as the object of knowledge, the dimension of time immediately turns into the dimension of space. The direction of knowledge in China is diachronical, while that in Greece is synchronic. After separating from myth, the independent thought of man and nature came into being and realized that man and nature are two different classes. Therefore, Greek philosophy originated from natural philosophy and physics, gradually developed logical rationality and occupied a dominant position.

(2) China’s Rational Structure

We also look at the situation in China from an empirical perspective. Jaspers talked about the “Axis Age” in China during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, in Greece during the city-state period, and in Rome during the city-state period. Why did the Axis Age take place during this period of time? Jasper’s explanation is that it happened between the two empires and people had a “pause for free breath” in English. Some translations are: pause for freedom, in fact, the exact meaning is: gasping, not pause, German and English are very clear. Such key words, besides looking at the Chinese version, must look at German and English. Greece had a Persian empire before the “axis”, but the empire was virtual. There were three generations before China. In terms of experience, when Zhou people replaced Yin Shang, they did not completely annihilate and remove the merchants, but carried out a good inheritance. This is what Confucius said in the Analects of Confucius: “Yin’s profit and loss due to Xia Li can be seen. Zhou’s profit and loss due to Yin Li can be seen. It is known that he or she will follow the Zhou Dynasty, although it will be known for a hundred generations” (Analects of Confucius for Government).

China’s historical records are very rich, and the ancient and modern are linked together. The characters in Zuozhuan speak of the contemporary era, which cannot be separated from the ancient times. They use the ancient things to verify the contemporary era. The most typical sentence in ancient documents is Zhou Gong’s statement in Shangshu that “only you know, but Yin ancestors have books and codes” (Shangshu Duoshi). The discovery of oracle bone inscriptions in the early Zhou Dynasty confirmed Zhou Gong’s statement. Zhou people before Keshang had inherited a lot of things from Yin culture. This shows that the Chinese people have a foundation in cultural civilization and come down in one continuous line. There are rules and losses, that is, inheritance and change. This is the direct empirical basis for the establishment of Chinese historical rationality. History is the alternation and continuation of existence and absence. There will be nothing, and there will be nothing. Change and regularity can be compared by tourists staying in hotels. Passengers came yesterday and left today. They were all passers-by. And hotels are common, yesterday and today are the same. “The soldiers of the iron camp and the flowing water” also means the same thing. The camp is regular and the soldiers are changing.

The Duke of Zhou did not deny all Yin kings, but Shang Zhouwang. Before Zhou, all were called Zhe kings. This is the reason for inheritance. In addition, the Duke of Zhou told people a truth: those who win the hearts of the people gain the world, while those who lose the hearts lose the world. This is change. It is a very great idea. Zhou Gong’s era can be regarded as China’s “pre-axis era”. Confucius’s “ritual and music collapsed” Spring and Autumn Period is the “axis era”. Zhou Gong only realized that the rulers should implement good governance, but did not put forward the concept of “benevolence”, which is the limitation of the times. Zhou Gong faced the requirement of establishing various systems and considered how to stabilize the situation. Confucius inherited Zhou Gong’s moral concept and developed the concept of “benevolence”, that is, treating people as human beings. The greatness of this concept is close to that of natural law.

The reason why Chinese historical rationality dominates is that philosophers cannot leave tradition. China’s original historical rationality was combined with moral rationality, that is, Zhou Gong’s speech, but it was replaced by the Five Elements Theory in the Warring States Period. From the Han Dynasty to the Sui Dynasty, the theory of the Five Elements’ mutual existence and mutual restraint has always been the core of political philosophy, because it is related to the orthodoxy of the political power. China has a rich historical tradition, which is both a heritage and a burden. Later people carried this big burden and could not easily get rid of it. Did Confucius not walk forward with a big burden? His thoughts are both new and old. All the pre-Qin philosophers had three generations of inheritance, and the statement that they all “came from Wang Guan” was not credible, but they all had traditional roots. Confucianism and Mohism all quoted “poems” and “books”, but the explanations were different. Confucianism gently inherited Zhou Gong’s point of view. Confucius’ ethics is hierarchical, with “benevolence” from inside to outside and “courtesy” from outside to inside. Mozi’s universal love is not equal, somewhat similar to Christianity, but there is no overall theory of Christianity. Taoism denies the “Six Classics”. Of course, when it denies it, it will produce Hegel’s “sublation”. Legalists also denied the Six Classics, but they were also familiar with its contents. The “Six Classics” is characterized by “practical application”, political philosophy and ethical philosophy. Influenced by Mencius, he talked about some economic theories, and Legalists also put forward their own economic theories. Sima Qian quoted his father Sima Tan as saying, “Yin and Yang, Confucianism, Mohism, Name, Law and Morality are the governing bodies” (Preface to Taishi Gong in Records of the Historian). This shows that historical rationality is linked to politics, and historiography serves politics and practice. Since history is related to time, it is linear. Lines have straight lines and segments. The two ends of the straight line are not limited and can be extended indefinitely. Both ends of the line segment have heads and cannot be extended. Chinese historiography has the spirit of “communication”, which can be compared to an endless straight line. The historiography of ancient Greece and Rome only focuses on the contemporary era, which can be compared to line segments. Line segments are also straight lines, but their length is limited.

China’s natural rationality is not as developed as Greece’s. “The Five Virtues Begin at the End” is a combination of historical rationality and natural rationality, comparing the changes of dynasties with the circulation of the Five Elements. As a result of this analogy, Qin State has no scruples and openly used cruel and violent means to implement autocratic dictatorship. They believe that this is completely in line with historical rules and has historical legitimacy. In the Han Dynasty, Confucianism felt that Qin’s cruelty violated morality and changed the “five elements of mutual restraint” to “five elements of mutual growth”. It also excluded Qin from the sequence of mutual growth and did not recognize Qin as orthodox. The so-called “purple frog sound, the rest of which is moist” means that purple is variegated color, a mixture of red and blue, not positive color, and frog sound is not positive sound. The concept of surplus points is that the time when the sun travels for one week cannot be divided by the time when the moon is full and shrinking. Those who have one or two more days in a month are called Dayu, and those who have several more hours are called Xiaoyu. All the surplus accumulated to 29 or 30 days can be leap months, so it is called “surplus points to moisten the position”, that is, in the calendar, the surplus points of time can only be regarded as moistening the system, not orthodoxy. This is what “Han Shu” describes as Wang Mang usurping power, but it is also applicable to the Qin Dynasty.

Zhou Gong said that heaven is a religious heaven. Heaven is the master and has morality. He chooses the most virtuous person in the world as the ruler. Confucius talked about heaven, regardless of the choice of the religious heaven that determines the king of man, and introduced the moral heaven into the hearts of the people. This is a great progress, but it has a consequence, that is, people can participate in heaven and earth, paving the way for the later development of the “three talents” of heaven, earth and man. Xunzi talked about heaven, which is different from Confucius. It is a natural heaven, but he does not discuss and study nature. He openly claimed that “what is the difference between thinking in the big sky and making things and animals?” From heaven and praise, which is the same as making destiny and using it? ” (Xunzi Tianlun) This view is extremely spectacular, but he did not say that nature should be studied and its components should be decomposed. It can be seen that the Chinese have never studied heaven/nature as a topic. Man is the spirit of all things, and heaven and man are the same. Mencius believed that one can know heaven by knowing people. When this point came to Song Ru, it was even more talked about, when the Western Renaissance was already in its infancy. Confucianism stresses “following the rules” and “profit and loss”, which means to remove the burden and critically inherit it. However, under such a profound cultural tradition, it is difficult to make “profits and losses” qualitatively change. Without the impact of external factors, it is difficult to make a breakthrough. Buddhism entered China, but soon became Chinese. Man is an animal of history, that is, man cannot get rid of historical tradition. The tradition of ancient Greek civilization is blank, so there is no burden on the body and ideological activities can be carried out easily and freely. The legends and history of China’s three generations and even ancient emperors are extremely rich. These traditions make all thinkers in the Axis era attach no importance to history, which shows how deeply they are influenced by tradition.

To sum up, rationality has different contents and categories. Different rational categories form different rational structures. Rationality is multiple, and the emphasis of Chinese and Western rationality is different: the West attaches great importance to logical rationality, while China lays particular stress on historical rationality. The key to the difference between Chinese and Western civilizations lies in the difference in rational structure. Westerners, including Hegel, believe that the Chinese are irrational. In fact, the Chinese are rational, but the structure is different. Although China does not have logical rationality, it also has certain logical thoughts, and China is dominated by historical rationality. The Chinese attach importance to historical rationality, but have not deduced logical rationality from historical rationality. Western historical rationality comes from analysis. China’s is obtained from experience by inductive methods, and often is found in changes. The Chinese view of often cannot be separated from change, that is, the unity of often and change. These two kinds of rationality have contributed to human beings and are indispensable.

(3) The relationship among logical rationality, historical rationality and moral rationality

The rational structure mainly includes logical rationality, historical rationality and moral rationality. So, is there a what relationship between them? We first analyze the relationship between logical rationality and historical rationality, including two aspects. First, historical rationality and logical rationality have strong mutually exclusive power. This is because logical rationality starts from the concept, which has an abstract process and has the characteristics of transcending time and space, obviously excluding historical rationality. Historical rationality cannot be separated from specific time and space. When we read the Analects of Confucius, we found that Confucius did not define “benevolence”. This is not Confucius’ ignorance, but to teach students in accordance with their aptitude and have different interpretations for different students. Give a specific definition, play will be bound. In other words, historical rationality is difficult to integrate into logical rationality. Western logical rationality has developed “metaphysics of presence”, which has both advantages and disadvantages. Geometry is established by metaphysics in the presence. When defining the concept, one must say that so-and-so is what, not what. What is not will withdraw, will not be present, the rest is present. With the deepening of the definition and more and more exits, the analysis reaches the most detailed level.

Plato obtained the highest form by developing the concept from low to high and gradually from special to general. Every time you go up to the next level, you abstract it once. In the end, abstraction is existence, and this abstract existence is separated from time and space. Separation from time and space has nothing to do with history, because history must take place in time and space. Parmenides’ existence and non-existence are absolutely separated, so they cannot develop movement. Plato’s general theory of species can move, which is the movement of logical concepts. Hegel’s “small logic” is also the movement development of concepts, not empirical things. The development of logic is historical, which is the intersection of logical rationality and historical rationality. On the other hand, there is logic in historical rationality. However, fundamentally, the two are exclusive.

Secondly, since both historical rationality and logical rationality belong to human rationality, there is an inherent indivisibility and mutual infiltration between them. From the aspect of logical rationality, we can ask two logical questions. Question 1: Is logical rationality human rationality? The answer is yes, logical rationality is possessed by human beings, not by other animals. Ask again: Is logical rationality the whole rationality of human beings? The answer is no, logical rationality is only one kind of human rationality. The answers of the above two logics are two judgments, the first judgment is not extended and the second is extended. Logical rationality is human rationality, which is not extended within the category of human beings. Logical rationality is not all rationality of human beings, and “all rationality” is circumferential. These two judgments show that human beings and their logic are still historical. People have a history of birth, growth, aging and death. From the West to Hegel, he has realized that logic itself is historical, because from Plato’s theory of generalization, concepts are evolving in history, and the development of logic is finally mathematical logic and symbolic logic. Hegel said that “philosophy is the history of philosophy” and his “little logic” is the history of conceptual development. Western metaphysics is also the history of metaphysics, and logic is also the history of logic, both human and historical. Logical rationality did not stop changing after the Greeks were established. Later logic not only developed continuously, but also had different schools. Symbolic logic has at least four stages of development. In other words, logic is still in history.

Bacon pointed out that human beings are born with three functions: rationality, so logic is generated; There are emotions, so there are poems. There is memory, so there is history. This is about the existence function of human beings and belongs to ontological philosophy. This view is very important and gives historiography a legal status. The relationship between history and logic is close, and historical rationality is dominated by logical rationality. The reason why people become human beings is rational thinking. When people talk to each other, they can only communicate logically. Heidegger said that language is something in which people are born, and people cannot exist without language. Language must have at least logic to become a tool for interpersonal communication. In other words, people cannot leave logic. A well-written article is a dialogue to the reader. Readers feel that it is reasonable and reasonable. Reasonable is logical. Ouyang Xiu’s “Zuiweng Pavilion” has clear narrative levels and clear logical relations in time, place, characters and scenes. You cannot write the scene of summer as winter and the scene of winter as summer. You can’t say you ate breakfast and say you didn’t eat it. Du Mu’s Epang Palace describes the extravagance and luxury of the Epang Palace built by Qin Dynasty and the sufferings of the common people. Finally, he comes to the conclusion that “the Qin people are not in the world”. He also expresses the penetrating judgment that “the Qin people are too busy to mourn for themselves, and then others mourn, and later generations mourn but do not learn from it, which also makes later generations mourn for later generations”. The logical relationship and outstanding historical rationality before and after the article amazed the world. In ancient China, there was logic in the game, operation, art of war, etc. Logic lurked in human life. Aristotle’s “Man is a rational animal” pointed out the definition of man. The textual research of history must rely on logic. In the history books, the front said that there was an event and the back said that there was no one. At this time, logical reasoning was needed to determine whether there was an event or not based on other materials.

Take the story of “Empty City Plan” as an example. The “Three Kingdoms” did not record Zhuge Liang’s “Empty City Plan” incident, but this story was circulated when Pei Songzhi made a note of the “Three Kingdoms” in the Southern Dynasty. Liu Yilong of Song Wendi in the Southern Dynasty thought the “Three Kingdoms” was too simple and ordered Pei Songzhi to search for various materials to supplement the “Three Kingdoms”. Pei Songzhi quoted a large number of materials, including more than 150 kinds. One of the books mentions Sima Yi’s descendants talking to friends, who talked about the empty city plan and laughed at the Sima family with this incident. Pei Songzhi analyzed from several aspects and questioned the credibility of the story. The story of “Empty City Plan” takes place in Xicheng, in the eastern part of southern Shaanxi and now in Ankang. Hanzhong and Guanzhong were the main battlefields at that time. Zhuge Liang was in Hanzhong and went out of Qishan to attack Cao Wei. He set out in the direction of Baoji first and then launched an attack on Xi’an in Guanzhong from the upper reaches of Weishui River. At that time, the Cao family did not trust Sima Yi and let their own Cao Zhen be stationed in Guanzhong. Sima Yi’s troops were in today’s Hubei area, so Xicheng’s geographical location was not in line with the “empty city plan” and Sima Yi was not in Guanzhong. Cao Zhen once planned to take the initiative to attack Zhuge Liang and enter Hanzhong from Guanzhong. However, he encountered heavy rain on the road. The bad weather lasted for nearly a month and Cao Zhen became ill. At this time, Cao Jia transferred Sima Yi back to Guanzhong. Therefore, the confrontation between Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang in Xicheng has no credibility.

Chinese historiography has logic, but the Chinese have not abstractly developed logic into a set of disciplines with laws and systems, and are accustomed to concrete image thinking. When the pre-Qin philosophers demonstrated their views, they all quoted specific historical events. Sima Qian quoted Confucius as saying, “I want to carry empty words, but it is better to see them in the deep and famous way of doing things” (Preface to Records of the Historian Taishi Gong). The statement that “Tao cannot be separated from Qi” shows that “Tao” itself cannot be deduced and must be explained by specific things “Qi”. The logic relied on by the Chinese is mainly induction. Westerners believe that induction is unreliable. You can give 10,000 examples, but if you find an opposite example, the conclusion will not hold water.

Historiography cannot be separated from logic, and the choice and discrimination of materials must go through logical reasoning. Logical rationality and historical rationality are interrelated. Logical rationality directly affects natural science, while historical rationality affects humanities. And natural science itself is historical. Logical rationality is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for historical rationality. Without logical rationality, there is no historical rationality. However, logical rationality does not necessarily mean historical rationality. Why? Because human beings, as an animal, have irrational aspects: worldly desires. Sensibility and emotion are indispensable in human life. German philosopher Dilthey put forward “erleben” as the way life exists. Animals also have feelings, but animals have no logical rationality. Logical rationality and historical rationality, the former is mainly based on reasoning, while the latter is mainly based on sensibility. Logic alone, without experience, is not enough. Experience alone cannot be relied on without logic or logic. Britain started with Bacon, and the combination of the two led to the Industrial Revolution.

Let’s look at the relationship between logical rationality, historical rationality and moral rationality (ethics). Ethics is also a special discipline. There was a scholar in Europe who later went to the United States. His name was MacIntyre and wrote “Whose Justice?” What kind of rationality? “, study moral rationality. He studies not only the West but also China. There have been two kinds of moral rationality since ancient times. Socrates and Plato believed that “knowledge is virtue”. Knowledge determines morality. Knowing that what is good will do good. In Socrates’ view, morality is determined by logical rationality. Aristotle did not agree with the teacher. His Ethics emphasizes that morality is determined by customs. Customs vary from time to time, from region to region, and from morality to morality. Therefore, Aristotle’s morality is historical. Kant believed that morality must be premised on the principle of rationality. The “Golden Law” is also historical, linking ancient and modern times. It also changes with the passage of time. Some ancient people think that what conforms to morality, while modern people think that it does not conform. The Chinese think it is moral, while foreigners think it is not. Religious extremists and terrorists also have different moral values from others. People with different moral values are all illuminated by logical rationality and historical rationality on the historical stage. Socrates’ morality is logical rationality. Aristotle emphasizes logical rationality, but his ethics is historical rationality. The Athens Academy created by Raphael in the Vatican Palace during the Renaissance placed Plato and Aristotle in the center of the painting, with Plato pointing to the sky and Aristotle pointing to the ground, showing the different theories of master and apprentice.

It is logical to think that ancient and modern morality is the same. Anyone who believes that morality can be inherited and changed is historical. We can say that moral rationality has both logical rationality and historical rationality. Under the circumstance that logical rationality dominates, moral rationality is dominated by it. Under the condition that historical rationality dominates, moral rationality is bound to be affected by it. China’s ethics have the same morality in ancient and modern times. For example, “do to others what you do not want to do to yourself” does not change with the times and has a logical and rational background. Chinese ethics also stresses the changing morality before and after, which is mainly reflected in the level of “propriety”. Mencius believed that it was moral for “men and women to give and receive but not to kiss”. However, when they saw their sister-in-law falling into the water and did not help them, “it was a jackal”. In this case, the rule of “men and women giving and receiving but not to kiss” could not be observed. This is called “right”, that is, contingency. Contingency is to achieve normal goals by abnormal means. The Chinese now believe that there is no moral problem for men and women to dance ballroom dancing, and have given up the concept of “men and women give and receive but not kiss”. Obviously, moral rationality reflects logical rationality and historical rationality.

In China, historical rationality and moral rationality are closely combined. Starting from the Zhou people’s theory of destiny, the classical literature is full of the view that rulers must govern the country by virtue in order to be in power for a long time. Especially in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods, people’s longing for the Three Emperors and Five Emperors pushed the history of the three generations that the fate of the dynasty was determined by the theory of destiny to the utopian ancient times. Spring and Autumn Annals, as a history book, is also made for practical use. Mencius’ “King Will Prosper in 500 Years” (Mencius Gongsun Chou) embodies the combination of historical rationality and moral rationality. The “King” he admires is the monarch who implements “benevolent government”.

Can morality be inherited? China has discussed this issue before and has treated it critically. How can the proletariat inherit the morality of feudalism and capitalism? However, from the point of view of true Marxism, traditional morality should be critically inherited, which is also the inheritance in Hegel’s negation. Critical inheritance is both logical and historical. Logic is reasonable in morality. How can morality not be inherited? The newborn baby cannot be measured by morality. He is bearing the burden of history from birth. In ancient China, how could men and women get married without matchmakers? It doesn’t matter now. Obviously, moral standards are different in different times. At that time, it was also reasonable for men and women to give and receive without kissing. The Chinese people do not like the behavior of Western men and women meeting each other and sticking their faces to each other, believing that it does not conform to moral standards. The envoys of the Qing Dynasty were shocked to see such behavior. Now it is different. Panama’s foreign minister is a woman. When she visited China and met with the Chinese foreign minister, her face was attached to her face. The Chinese did not take offense. Morality is determined by customs, which is true.

People must have historical rationality as well as logical rationality. Both logical rationality and historical rationality are necessary conditions, not sufficient conditions, for human beings. This has been proved in history. These two kinds of rationality can each occupy a dominant position in different civilizations, while other rationality occupies a subordinate position.

(4) The Role of Historical Rationality and Logical Rationality

In world history, before the scientific revolution, China was in a superior position, while the West was in a backward position. Therefore, Joseph Needham raised his famous question in his “History of Science and Technology in China”: Why hasn’t China developed a scientific revolution? From the above analysis, we can say that the reason is that China’s historical rationality, which emphasizes personnel, occupies a dominant position, while the West occupies a dominant position with logical rationality. It can be said that Westerners “wake up” early and “get up” late. Geometry, mathematics and naturalism, which were based on logical rationality in ancient Greece, were of no practical use in what at that time, so they were the objects of scholars’ research for pure academic purposes for a long time. It was not until the 17th century that logical rationality provided a decisive method for the development of science. Descartes of France combined geometry and mathematics, founded analytic geometry, and introduced the calculation method of coordinate system and line segment. This contribution is very useful, for example, to calculate parabolas. British empiricist Bacon and several other philosophers and scientists advocated that scientific research should be a combination of theory and experiment. This method also made great contributions in the field of science and started the Industrial Revolution. Bacon’s empiricism is based on Aristotle. In addition to analysis and judgment, it also adds comprehensive judgment. The West has come to the front. Bacon’s title “New Tools” is Aristotle’s “Tools”. The two are equally important. All scientific disciplines, including quantum mechanics, which studies the microscopic world, are based on strict mathematical logic, and each law has a corresponding mathematical formula. There is no science without logic.

The function of historical rationality is manifested in the social level. There are many reasons for the clash of civilizations, one of which is that Islam and Christian customs are incompatible. If we rely on logical rationality to solve the clash of civilizations, there will inevitably be more serious conflicts. Historical rationality is a magic weapon that can solve this problem. How to prove it? In the Near East, Middle East, Judaism, Christianity and Islam during the Roman Empire, there were sharp conflicts and even many wars among the three major religions and even within each religion itself. Any moderate sect, when suppressed, may develop into fundamentalism. Historical rationality pays attention to people’s emotions, emphasizes that changes are frequent, and seeks historical reasons. Therefore, it can guide people to design reasonable solutions.

Since human beings have irrational side, they cannot deal with contradictions only with logical rationality. South Koreans and Japanese have deep blood feuds, which is caused by history. Without historical rationality, we cannot easily understand history. Man is a rational animal, but not a purely rational animal. Religious people believe that only God is pure rational, while non-religious people believe that pure rational people are like computers and lose their human touch. In other words, people have feelings besides rationality, so people’s behavior is not entirely controlled by rationality. In many cases, feelings dominate people’s behavior. Both Plato and Aristotle have analyzed rationality and irrationality. They believe that there are roughly four parts in the human soul, some of which are rational and some of which are irrational. Pre-Qin Confucianism also mentioned this aspect of the problem, that is, good nature and evil nature, but their analysis was not as full and thorough as that of the Greeks.

Historical reason can understand the good and evil of human nature or the rational and irrational problems in human soul, while pure logical reason cannot. It is for this reason that human history has contingency, while by logical reason, history has no contingency and is all inevitable. It is obvious examples to say that “people have ulterior motives”, “people know their faces but do not know their hearts” and “they do not play cards according to common sense”. When people make decisions, irrational factors of “absent” often play a role in the back. The questions of historical necessity and accident can be answered from the functions of these two types of rationality. Logical rationality must be historicized. The demonstration of geometry does not need to be combined with facts, but is only deduced one by one, and the conclusion must be drawn. Without chance, mathematical probability theory has certain chance. This is because probability theory combines facts and becomes historical.

The strict logic of the West is in the middle, either that or that. This is easy to force others and does not combine with the actual situation. It is one of the reasons for today’s turmoil in the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” caused a war. “If you are not of my race, your heart will be different” is exclusive. The world needs inclusiveness and pluralism. Confucius’s “one wants to establish one’s own person, one wants to achieve one’s own person” (Analects of Confucius Yong Ye) and “do to others what one does not want to do to oneself” (Analects of Confucius Yan Yuan) are tolerant, suitable for human beings and “golden law”. Christianity is inclusive, but violence has continued throughout history. Human beings are progressing and Christianity is much better now.

Logical reason seeks truth in eternity, while historical reason seeks truth in movement. How can truth be found in sports? Because movement is the unity of constant and change, change in constant, change in constant, impermanence is irrational, the real history is the unity of constant and change. This is the fundamental difference between logical rationality and historical rationality. How can people not be historical? People always have life and death, and cannot be eternal like God. Logical rationality and historical rationality are mutually exclusive. Logical rationality starts from abstraction. As soon as abstraction transcends time and space, history is thrown out. History is in time and space.

In my opinion, ethics can become rational, which is already practical rationality, while historical rationality is only one kind of practical rationality. Ethics has fixed rules derived from logical rationality, which are applicable to any era and region. For example, Kant’s “absolute command” and “man is man, not a tool to achieve any purpose”, Confucius’s “do not do to others what you do not want to do to yourself”, etc. Ethics also has the content of historical rationality. For example, due to changes in customs, behaviors that used to conform to morality did not conform to them later. What was not moral in the past was later met. Mr. Feng Youlan once put forward the view that morality can be “inherited abstractly”. This view is very contradictory. Is morality Socrates’ “knowledge theory” or Aristotle’s “custom theory”? Customs are changed, while logical and rational “knowledge theory” remains unchanged. Maclntyre’s ethics also involves logical rationality and historical rationality.

Western thinking goes to the road of abstraction. Once abstracted, it transcends time and space. In abstraction, if you give up concrete things, you will not be present. What you leave behind is present. It is an abstract presence and an eternal presence. Therefore, it is called “metaphysics of presence”. Abstract methods are to discard phenomena and explore essence. Mathematics and other sciences can only be developed through continuous abstraction, continuous definition and continuous exclusion of those present. Metaphysics on the spot is not what’s use for life, simple logic is still useful for life, and it is useless to reach the high level of mathematical logic. Digital technology in science has a great influence on life. From cameras to computers, it is revolutionary. The existentialist philosophy schools in the 20th century criticized the metaphysics of presence. Heidegger’s pursuit of existence is not the existence of metaphysics of presence, but the existence of living people. Existentialists believe that metaphysics of presence negates the “existence” pursued by existentialism, that is, the existence of human beings.

Everyone is not all rational. When people combine into groups, there will be more irrational elements. Logical rationality is not needed to deal with many things. Possibility is enough. For example, couples, one from the south and the other from the north, inevitably have the problem of eating rice and noodles. To solve such life problems, logical rationality has no good effect. History is not like fortune telling, which can predict the future. History is unpredictable. However, among the unpredictable, is there anything predictable? Traditional Chinese historiography answers: Yes. People can learn from the events that have taken place in history and reach the ideal historical goal through constant adjustment.

This section analyzes the differences between Chinese and Western ways of thinking, and holds that all the differences can be attributed to the differences in rational structures. Logical rationality dominates western thinking, while historical rationality leads Chinese thinking.

Third, the difference of dichotomy is the fundamental reason for the difference of rational structure.


The way of thinking is fundamentally different. Many people tend to look for answers from the social mode of production and geographical location. For example, Western civilization originated from the Mediterranean coast, with developed commerce and navigation. People are characterized by openness, while China is an agricultural society and people move back and forth. The explanation of production mode and geographical environment is not fundamental, and historical data are not sufficient to explain this problem. The difference in the amount of historical heritage left by Greece and China in the pre-axis era mentioned earlier is also a reason, but these reasons are not the main ones. We should look for the origin of human thought: the fundamental difference in the “dichotomy” of thinking.

How can we know the earliest way of thinking? Knowledge began in what? There is no historical record to answer, only logic to find the answer. The initial state of human beings is chaotic. Although there is no historical basis for this, it is legendary. Both China and foreign countries have experienced a state of chaos. English is Chaos, which is a state of ignorance. The original knowledge is the generation of the idea of dividing into two, one idea of dividing into two. The Chinese myth “Pangu Created the Earth” refers to the division of heaven and earth into two parts. Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi also talked about chaos. Zhuangzi tells us that the emperor of the South China Sea and the emperor of the North Sea are the emperor of the central government. One orifice is chiseled in one day, seven orifices are chiseled in seven days, and the seven orifices become chaotic and die. This reflects that knowledge comes from differences, and there can be no knowledge without differences. Children first know their parents. The pronunciation Mama and Baba of their mother and father are common languages in the world, because they are all lip sounds and pronunciation is the easiest. If there is no comparison, then what we are facing is chaos. The real starting point of human cognition can only be the dichotomy of chaos. Vision distinguishes light from darkness, hearing distinguishes quiet from noise, smell distinguishes fragrance from stench, taste distinguishes delicious from bitter and sour, touch distinguishes soft from hard, etc. This is the beginning of all perceptual knowledge. In Kant’s epistemological system, time and space, as transcendental intuitive forms in the stage of perceptual knowledge, are presented in the form of comparison. In the stage of intellectual cognition, the twelve categories (divided into four groups) as transcendental are all presented in the form of comparison. Even at the stage of his rational knowledge, he felt that there was an insoluble “Antinomy” (also divided into four groups), and Hegel solved it with “Being, Sein” itself containing contradictions. Therefore, Kant’s “antinomy” is also presented in a comparative form. Comparison is not only the basic attribute of all existence as cognitive objects, but also the basic attribute of cognition itself. Because the basic attributes of human cognitive objects and human cognitive subjects are unified, it is possible to understand truth. Logically speaking, human knowledge definitely starts from dividing into two parts.

Pythagoras was the first to adopt dichotomy in the history of Greek philosophy. His rational number and irrational number are dichotomy. Irrational numbers are excluded from rational numbers because they cannot be commensurate. The function of dichotomy in mathematics is the embodiment of logical rationality. Geometry is also based on dichotomy. There can be no contradiction in geometry, yes is yes, no is no. The philosophical dichotomy after Pythagoras is the distinction between existence and non-existence. Existence is rational and unreasonable cannot exist. For example, Parmenides is absolutely ranked between existence and non-existence, either there is nothing or there is nothing. What exists is knowledge, knowledge that can be said and thought. It is not knowledge that cannot be said or thought without existence. Existence is one, not many. Plato’s “theory of dividing and having” develops existence from one to many. One “I am” is divided into two, and one becomes more. The immovable “yes” become movable. “I am not” includes “yes”. This movement is a movement of ideas, not a movement of history, not a movement of historical rationality. Historical rationality is the movement of human beings, and this is only the movement of concepts. However, the movement of concepts, which is divided into two parts, breaks through the static concept and is very meaningful ideologically, involving dialectics. Western dichotomy is definitely good for science. The revolution brought about by today’s digital technology cannot be separated from dichotomy.

Plato used dichotomy to find the definition. First, he divided a universal concept into two opposing concepts, selected a related concept from the two, then divided it into two parts, repeated the process, and finally got the definition. For example, the definition of “politician” starts with the concept of “skillful person who manages a group of animals” and divides it into two opposite concepts: “person who manages barbaric animals” and “person who manages tame animals”. Then the former “barbaric animals” are excluded, and the latter “tame animals” are further divided into two points to obtain “aquatic animal managers” and “terrestrial animal managers”. The latter is further divided into “those who manage flying animals” and “those who manage walking animals”. The latter is divided into “those who manage horned animals” and “those who manage horned animals”. The latter includes “those who manage hybrid animals” and “those who manage non-hybrid animals”; The latter includes “tetrapods” and “bipeds”; The latter includes “those who manage winged animals” and “those who manage wingless animals”. The definition of “human” is obtained by adding together the remaining parts of the two points of each layer. Therefore, the definition of “politician” is the person who manages a group of tame, land-living, walking, hornless, impassable, biped and wingless animals. Although this definition is inaccurate, its logical definition method is groundbreaking. A stricter definition is “genus + differences of species” put forward by Plato’s student Aristotle.

The western dichotomy is always an exception: once it is stipulated, it is denied once. The “management of horned animals” is stipulated, excluding the “management of horned animals”. The deep meaning of Spinoza’s “stipulation is negation” lies in this dichotomy. Mr. Mou Zongsan also said: “As soon as there is abstraction, there is an image.” Every time we abstract, we will draw out the common things and give up the special things. All propositions such as “A is what” also show that “A is not what”. For example, “you are” means “you are yourself”, which means “you are not you” and will exclude people who are not you. Only in this way can “you” be truly comprehensive. The judgment that “you are a human being” indicates that you are not a human being, but because everyone is a human being, “you” and others have the concept of “human being”. These two sentences logically divide one “you” into two “you”.

Dichotomy and thought law are the basic principles of all logical systems. Dichotomy embodies the dual principle of logic: any item A becomes its opposite item-A after being denied, and-A becomes its opposite item A. For example, the negation of rational numbers is irrational numbers and vice versa. The negation of existence is non-existence and vice versa. Existence is easy to understand, but it is difficult to understand without existence. There is no such thing in reality, but its meaning is logical. The power of logic lies in that it can surpass perceptual knowledge and does not violate the requirements of laws in pure rationality. The duality of affirmation and negation is the foundation of the law of thought. The key to dichotomy lies in its close relationship with the three laws of thought (identity, contradiction and exclusion). Before a concept is divided into two parts, it is equal to itself. The formula is A = A, so it has to be A. This is the same. The relationship between the two parts after the two parts must be mutually exclusive, either one or the other. The judgment sentence is: where S is not P, where P is not S; Equation: A X (-A) = 0. If some S is P or some P is S, the relationship between the two is not mutually exclusive. This is the law of contradiction. After a concept is divided into two parts, the sum of the two parts must be exhaustive, must be equal to one, and there must be no missing parts. It is expressed by a judgment sentence that all non-S is P, or all non-P is S; The formula is A + (-A) = 1. This is the law of excluding middle.

China’s is the dichotomy of Zhouyi, that is, Yin and Yang fish and Tai Chi schema. Yin and Yang complement each other. Men are Yang and women are Yin. Men and women combine to have children and reproduce. Therefore, from Yin and Yang to Eight Diagrams, from Eight Diagrams to Everything. There is Yin in the Yang hexagram and Yang in the Yin hexagram. In the western dichotomy, A and-A in 1 cannot move, and Yin and Yang in Zhouyi can move, but the rules of movement lack logic. There is Yang in Yin and Yin in Yang. The two are not exclusive, nor can they go from one extreme to the other without sharp fracture. In the dichotomy of Zhouyi, the excluded things came in again. Gan Kun has no definition. Here is heaven and earth, elsewhere is cattle and horses, parents, etc. Gan Kun will always be present, because the elephant did not go out. When the mother gave birth to a son, Yin (mother) should leave, leaving only Yang (son). This is different from the West. Every level of abstraction in the West will be partially abandoned. When it comes to teacups, all the concepts of teacups are present, and things other than teacups are abandoned or exited. The abstract result is always present when it comes to “Yes/Existence”.

Pythagoras regards number as the origin of all things. Lao Zi also speaks of number, and “Tao gives birth to one, life to two, and life to three” is explained by number. But further down, there will be no counting, but elephants. Later thinkers developed number into art, that is, the combination of image and art in Yi. For example: 6, 7, 8, 9, Laoyin, Shaoyang. Three yang is the old yang, three yin is the old yin, two yang and one yin are Shaoyang, and two yin and one yang are Shaoyin. The “number” in “The Number of Dayan 50” is no longer the number mentioned in “Lao Zi” and “Life 2”. The result is that it has not developed in the direction of abstraction. Imagery is both a phenomenal and a concrete thing. “Lao Zi” proposed “Tao” and did not enter the “non-Tao” approach to discuss it.

Zhouyi started with yin and yang, but did not continue to follow the road of two points. Eight Diagrams are the result of Yin and Yang poles. Gankun is two portals. After entering, it should be divided into two parts and four parts, but instead of continuing to divide into two parts, it should be combined with three parts. Under Gan Kun’s two hexagrams, there are three Yang hexagrams and three Yin hexagrams. Why do two yin hexagrams and one yang hexagram belong to yang hexagram? Wang Bi believed that there was only one person who made the decision. Wang Bi’s annotation of Yi has ruled out many irrational elements of “Shu Shu” in Han Dynasty, but his rationality is still not thorough enough. His “three talents” are wrong. Three should represent three stages. In the early days of human beings, it was observed that everything had three stages of occurrence, development and decline. The three numbers of one, two and three can represent the phenomenon of early, middle and late every day and the phenomenon of human youth, middle age and old age. If we continue to divide Yin and Yang, we cannot express the concept of three stages. Buddhism talks about the four stages of life, old age, illness and death. In fact, there are mainly three stages. The combination of illness and old age is one stage. The three talents of heaven, earth and people are the horizontal division method, and the three stages are the vertical division method, which is in line with the early human understanding of the three stages of observation of things. Yin and Yang are two related concepts obtained from observing things, light and darkness, day and night, sun and moon, man and woman, etc. Similarly, the concept of the three stages is also the result of observation. This is what we mean by saying “the sky hangs like an elephant” and “observing the sky like an elephant”.

Based on the concept of yin and yang during the day and night, the concept of three stages of early, middle and late has been developed. This is the trend from two to three, which is different from the dichotomy trend in the west. With the concept of time in the early, middle and late, the development and change of yin and yang become possible. Is there any evidence in what that there is a concept of early, middle and late? Gossip represents different things, including those in nature and those in human society, such as family members. Among the three Yang hexagrams below Gan hexagram, “Zhen” is the eldest son, “Kan” is the second son, and “Gen” is the youngest son. Among the three Yin hexagrams below Kun hexagram, “Xun” is the eldest daughter, “Li” is the second daughter, and “Dui” is the third daughter. These children were born at different times. Yin and Yang in the Eight Diagrams have no clear timeliness, while the three stages of early, middle and late are timeliness. There are three in the morning, middle and evening, and two in Yin and Yang. Three and two, combined by mathematical methods, are six, and then composed of heavy hexagrams, is 64. From two to eight, there is a six in the middle. From two to three, the number in ancient China ended here, and in the future it was dominated by images.

It can be seen that the two points of yin and yang in Zhouyi are not strictly antithesis or mutually exclusive, and cannot be developed into the law of contradiction and the law of excluding middle in logic, because there is yang in yin and yin in yang. This is especially manifested in the later Yin and Yang fish or Tai Chi diagram. The number of yin and yang in Zhouyi has developed into three, and has not developed downward along the principle of two points. “Lao Zi” also deviated from two points and entered the field of image art from number. The concept of Yin and Yang is empirical and has not been sublimated to the height of speculation. On the other hand, the yin and yang in Zhouyi are moving and can complement each other. In addition, the concept of time in the early, middle and late is also changing and circulating, thus providing a philosophical basis for historical rationality, that is, things are the unity of change and regularity, and there are certain rules to be found. In addition, although there are differences between Yin and Yang, they do not repel each other and do not give up those who are not present. Both are present and do not form western metaphysics of presence, which is conducive to the formation and development of Chinese historical rationality. Historical rationality emphasizes regularity and change, considering not only the factors present but also the factors not present. It can be said that logical rationality dominates in western civilization and historical rationality dominates in Chinese civilization, which is fundamentally due to the difference in dichotomy.

Perhaps some curious people will ask: Why is the dichotomy between China and the West different? This question is difficult to answer, but one thing is certain: different languages have certain influences. The characteristics of language lead to the characteristics of logic to a great extent. Language and logic are closely related, and both China and the West are the same. Greek, which belongs to the Indo-European language family, has a characteristic that some words with prefix a form antonyms of the word, thus producing a pair of words with opposite meanings, which is the duality of dichotomy. For example, tomos means segmentation, and the prefix a is atomos (atom in English) to form the antonym of segmentation: indivisibility, that is, atom. To investigate the reasons for the differences between Chinese and Western cultures and to catch up with the linguistic features, even if we reach the source. It is impossible to go further. We cannot answer the question that “what factors determine the different language features when Chinese and Western civilizations originated”.


Wang Guowei:“On the Input of Newly Learning Languages”, Education World, No.4 (No.96), February 1905.

2 Lin Yutang: “On the Differences of Thought and Law between East and West”, Autobiography of Lin Yutang, Nanjing: Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House, 1995.

3 Tang Junyi, “Spiritual Value of Chinese Culture”, Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2005, p. 45.

4 Zhang Dongsun, Knowledge and Culture, Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1946, pp. 100-101.

5 Zhang Dainian, Outline of Chinese Philosophy, Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 1994, Preface, pp. 5-9.


This article is reproduced from the public number:Journal of beijing normal university social science edition


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