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Abstract

There exists a lacuna in the prevailing understanding of the history of philosophy. It consists of an omission of certain contributions made by China. This paper is an attempt to fill in part of the picture.

Keywords

Religious Belief Ethical Naturalism Chinese Thought Religious Knowledge Natural Religion 
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Notes

  1. 1a.
    Among his recent work on religious scepticism are: The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1979, Chapters XI and XII; “Skepticism,” The Encyclopedia of Unbelief, Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1985, pp. 625–633; Isaac La Peyrère, 1596–1676, and the History of His Influence in Theology and Anthropology, forthcoming, Harvard University Press; “Spinoza and Isaac La Peyrère,” The Southwestern Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 8,1977, pp. 177–195, also in Spinoza: New perspectives, Robert W. Shahan and J.I. Biro, eds. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978, pp. 177–195Google Scholar
  2. 1b.
    “The Development of Religious Scepticism and the Influence of Isaac La Peyrère’s pre-Adamism and Bible Criticism,” in Classical Influences on European Cultures, R.R. Bolgar, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 271–278.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Variations on the Theme of the Philosopher’s God: Europe and China, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, San Diego, 1982, see pp. 13 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Peter Burke, “Did Europe exist before 1700?”, History of European Ideas, Vol. 1,1980, pp. 21–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    John Herman Randall, Jr., The Making of the Modern Mind, New York, Surrey: Columbia University Press, 1976, p. 90.Google Scholar
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    “Des Cannibales,” in Oeuvres complètes, Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1962, p. 203. Citations are from the English translation, in Donald M. Frame, The Complete Works of Montaigne, London: Hamish Hamilton, see p. 152. With regard to quotations throughout this paper, my general policy is to use English translations wherever possible, provided that they are reliable, and that I can check them against the most authentic versions.Google Scholar
  7. 6c.
    Montaigne is inspired by several themes which are all loosely associated with naturalism:Being sensitive to the vagaries of human reason, Montaigne, unlike Charron, does not posit the existence of immutable laws of nature. See J.S. Slotkin, ed., Readings in Early Anthropology, Chicago: Aldine, 1965, pp. 54–63Google Scholar
  8. 6d.
    Alan M. Boase has also pointed out that Montaigne was not a relativist. See The Fortunes of Montaigne, London: Methuen, 1935. Boase sees Montaigne as a moral optimist who regards the quality of consciousness as a rule of moral worth.Google Scholar
  9. 7a.
    Essais, 1580 in Oeuvres complètes, J. Plattard, ed., Paris: F. Roches, 1931, Vol. 3, pp. 161, 244–245Google Scholar
  10. 7b.
    These passages are cited in Slotkin, op. cit., p. 57.Google Scholar
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    De la Sagesse, 1601,1604, Book 2, Ch. V, “Etudier à la vraye piété,” in Toutes les oeuvres de Pierre Charron..., Paris: J. Villery, 1635; Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 51–67.Google Scholar
  12. 9a.
    Pensées de Blaise Pascal, Léon Brunschvicg, ed., Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1904;Google Scholar
  13. 9b.
    Pensées de Blaise Pascal, Léon Brunschvicg, ed.,Nendeln/ Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint, 1976, Vol. 11–14. Pensées 92, 93, 294, and 325.Google Scholar
  14. 9c.
    Citations are from Pensées, W.F. Trotter, tr., New York: Random House, 1941.Google Scholar
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    See Popkin, History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza, Chapter XII.Google Scholar
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    Pierre Bayle, Dictionnaire historique et critique, 3rd ed., Rotterdam: M. Bohm, 1720, art. “Spinoza,” and “Manichéens,” Vol. 3, pp. 2631–2647 and 1896–1901.Google Scholar
  17. 12.
    Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, De Religione Gentilium, Amsterdam: typis Blaeviorum, 1663. References are to the English translation, The Ancient Religion of the Gentiles, W. Lewis, tr., London: no publisher, 1705, pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
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    Popkin discusses this problem in various places. See, for example, “Theological and Religious Scepticism,” Christian Scholar, Vol. 39, 1956, pp. 150–158.Google Scholar
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    Randall, op. cit., p. 282.Google Scholar
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    A detailed study of this question has been done by Louis Capéran, Le problème du salut des infidèles, Paris: G. Beauchesne, 1912; Toulouse: Grand Séminaire, 1934.Google Scholar
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    De la vertu des payens, Paris: F. Targa, 1642, p. 4.Google Scholar
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    Herbert of Cherbury, op cit., p. 5; Pierre Charron, Les Trois Veritez, Paris: printed by S. Millanges, 1595, in Oeuvres, Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1970, Vol. 2. See Popkin, History of Scepticism, pp. 58–59.Google Scholar
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    La Mothe le Vayer, op. cit., p. 30.Google Scholar
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    See the exposition of Antoine Arnauld, De la nécessité de la foi en Jésus-Christ pour être sauvé, Paris: C. Osmont, Publie par L.-Ellies Dupin, 1701, Vol. 6 of Oeuvres, 43 vols.; Paris & Lausanne: S. D’Arnay, 1775–1783; Bruxelles, Culture et Civilization, 1964, pp. 219–220. The first part of this work shows that no one can be saved without faith in Jesus Christ; the third and the fourth parts consist of a scathing demolition of La Mothe le Vayer’s stance on this question.Google Scholar
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    Isaac de La Peyrère, A Theological Systeme upon that Presupposition that Men were before Adam, London: no publisher, 1655, Book 5, Chapter IX.Google Scholar
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    Popkin, op cit., p. 59.Google Scholar
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    La Mothe le Vayer, op cit., pp. 49–50.Google Scholar
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  29. 24.
    Arnauld, op cit., p. 291.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 85–89, 282.Google Scholar
  31. 26.
    Ibid., pp. 322–328.Google Scholar
  32. 27.
    Arnauld’s seven volume La morale pratique des Jésuites, Cologne: Gervinus Quentel [Elzevir], 1669–1694, which consists of a vehement attack on the Jesuits, including their mode of spreading the faith abroad, is along the same line as Pascal’s scathing criticism in his Lettres provinciales, 1656–1657. Against the Jansenist attack, Jesuit Father Michel le Tellier wrote the Défense des nouveaux chrétiens et des missionaires de la Chine, du Japon et des Indes contre deux livres intitulés “la morale pratique de Jésuites” et “l’esprit de M. Arnauld”, Paris: E. Michallet, 1687–1690. Le Tellier was the confessor of Louis XIV, and was powerful at court. A rebuttal was written by Arnauld entitled Lettre d’un théologien contre la défense des nouveaux chrétiens, in La morale pratique des Jésuites, Vol. VI. I am indebted to Arnold Rowbotham for these references. See Missionary and Mandarin in China: The Jesuits at the Court of China, New York: Russell & Russell, 1966, pp. 339, 351.Google Scholar
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  36. 31.
    Daniel Louis Le Comte, Nouveaux mémoires sur l’état present de la Chine, Paris: J. Annison, 1697–1698. This citation is from the English translation Memoires and Observations… of the Empire of China, London: B. Tooke, 1698, p. 317.Google Scholar
  37. 32a.
    The Confucius Sinarum Philosophus was translated by a group of Jesuits under the leadership of Father Philippe Couplet. It includes the Analects, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean. The two extracted translations referred to here include: Simon Foucher, Lettre sur la morale de Confucius, Philosophe de la Chine, Paris: chez Daniel Horthemels, 1688;Google Scholar
  38. 32b.
    Jean de la Brune, La moral de Confucius, philosophe de la Chine, Amsterdam: P. Savouret, 1688Google Scholar
  39. 32c.
    Foucher’s version was published under his initials only. The latter work is sometimes attributed to Victor Cousin. See Virgile Pinot, La Chine et la formation de Vesprit philosophique en France, Paris: Geuthner, 1932; Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1971, p. 373. All references to La Brune’s work are from the 1844 edition.Google Scholar
  40. 33.
    See Adolf Reichwein, China and Europe: Intellectual and Artistic Contacts in the Eighteenth Century, J.C. Powell, tr., New York: Barnes & Noble, 1925, p. 29.Google Scholar
  41. 34.
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  42. 35.
    Christianity as Old as Creation, London, 1731, Vol. 1, p. 342.Google Scholar
  43. 36.
    Lettre de M.G.G. Leibniz sur la philosophie Chinoise à M. de Remond, in G.G. Leibnitii: Opera Omnia, L. Duttens, ed., Geneva: Fratnes de Tournes, 1768, Vol. 4, pp. 169–210. References are to the English translation Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese, Hawaii: The University of Hawaii Press, 1977, pp. 24, 32, 37.Google Scholar
  44. 37.
    See Pinot, op. cit., Book II, Chapter 1.Google Scholar
  45. 38a.
    There is as yet very little written about the fascinating figurist movement within the Jesuit mission of China. The best accounts are: Arnold H. Rowbotham, “The Jesuit Figurists and Eighteenth-Century Religious Thought,” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 17, 1956, pp. 471–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 38b.
    D.P. Walker, The Ancient Theology: Studies in Christian Platonism from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972, Chapter 6Google Scholar
  47. 38c.
    Two recent studies which provide worthy background knowledge are: John W. Witek, Controversial Ideas in China and in Europe: A Biography of Jean-François Foucquet, S.J. (1665–1741), Rome: Institutm Historicm S-I., 1982Google Scholar
  48. 38d.
    and David E. Mungello, Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origin of Sinology, Studia Leibnitiana, Supplementa XXV, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1985.Google Scholar
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    John Webb, An Historical Essay endeavoring a probability that the Language of the Empire of China is the Primitive Language. London: Nath. Brook, 1669.Google Scholar
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    Pierre Bayle, Lettre à M. L. A. D. C, docteur de Sorbonne, où il est prouvé par plusieurs raisons tirées de la philosophie et de la théologie que les comètes ne sont point le présage d’aucun malheur... Cologne: P. Marteau, 1682Google Scholar
  52. 41b.
    Pierre Bayle Pensées diverses écrites à un docteur de Sorbonne à l’occasion de la comète qui parut au mois de décembre 1680, Rotterdam: R. Leers, 1683.Google Scholar
  53. 42.
    These points are made in Pensées diverses écrites à un docteur de Sorbonne, a l’occasion de la comète, 6th ed., pp. CLX, CLXXII, CLXXVII, CLXXX-CLXXXI, in Oeuvres Diverses, Hildesheim: Georg Olms, Vol. 3.Google Scholar
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    See also Frank E. Manuel, The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959.Google Scholar
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    The association of Confucianism and Cartesianism in terms of methodological avoidance of error can be seen clearly in the interpretations of La Brune and Foucher. See La Brune, op. cit., pp. 27, 72–73; and Rowbotham, “The Impact of Confucianism,” p. 277.Google Scholar
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    La Brune, op. cit., p. 29.Google Scholar
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    Joseph Glanvill, The Vanity of Dogmatizing, London: printed by E.C. for H. Eversden, 1661.Google Scholar
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    For the universalist, the concept of charity was promising because it was seen as being independent of all religions. The Cartesian Pierre Sylvain Régis subsumed what he understood to be Confucian morality into the concept of charity in his attempt to emphasize the universality of Confucianism. See the review of Confucius Sinarum Philosophus in Journal des sçavans, 5 Jan. 1688. This is referred to by Pinot, op. cit., pp. 375–376.Google Scholar
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    This is cited in Arnold H. Rowbotham, “The Impact of Confucianism on Seventeenth Century Europe,” Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 4, 1944–1945, p. 237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    La Brune regards the Golden Rule as the Universal principle apprehended by reason and as the sole foundation of all other moral principles. For him the teaching of Jesus Christ consists of nothing more. Another contemporaneous admirer of Confucius, Etienne Silhouette, averred that Confucius had expounded the one great “Principe de la Loi naturelle” as the foundation of all other laws. Again, it consists of nothing more than the Golden Rule. See La Brune, op. cit., Maxim XXIV, p. 95, and p. 59Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuen-Ting Lai
    • 1
  1. 1.Memorial UniversityCanada

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