Beyond Oneness and Difference
Li and Coherence in Chinese Buddhist Thought and Its Antecedents
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Continues the author’s inquiry into the development of the Chinese philosophical concept Li, concluding in Song and Ming dynasty Neo-Confucianism.
Beyond Oneness and Difference considers the development of one of the key concepts of Chinese intellectual history, Li. A grasp of the strange history of this term and its seemingly conflicting implications—as oneness and differentiation, as the knowable and as what transcends knowledge, as the good and as the transcendence of good and bad, as order and as omnipresence—raises questions about the most basic building blocks of our thinking. This exploration began in the book's companion volume, Ironies of Oneness and Difference, which detailed how formative Confucian and Daoist thinkers approached and demarcated concepts of coherence, order, and value, identifying both ironic and non-ironic trends in the elaboration of these core ideas. In the present volume, Brook Ziporyn goes on to examine the implications of Li as they develop in Neo-Daoist metaphysics and in Chinese Buddhism, ultimately becoming foundational to Song and Ming dynasty Neo-Confucianism, the orthodox ideology of late imperial China. Ziporyn's interrogation goes beyond analysis to reveal the unsuspected range of human thinking on these most fundamental categories of ontology, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.
Brook Ziporyn is Professor of Chinese Philosophy, Religion, and Comparative Thought at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including The Penumbra Unbound: The Neo-Taoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang and Ironies of Oneness and Difference: Coherence in Early Chinese Thought; Prolegomena to the Study of Li, both also published by SUNY Press.
"Ziporyn takes on the deepest issues and most difficult texts from a millennium and a half of Chinese thinking, and offers exciting new ways to make sense of both individual texts and the tradition's broader concerns … Whether read separately or together, these two volumes are among the most provocative and tightly argued works on Chinese philosophy to appear in many years, and richly repay the effort it takes to learn to see through the lens of coherence." — Dao
"…Ziporyn's two volumes on 'oneness and difference' represent a well-argued and highly sophisticated attempt at understanding Chinese metaphysics on its own terms … I recommend these two volumes unconditionally to the reader." — Kai Marchal, Philosophy East & West
"…constitute[s] the first comprehensive attempt in any Western language to explore the meaning and history of the difficult term li prior to the Song period … Ziporyn displays a tremendous knowledge of difficult philosophical texts such as the commentaries to Daoist classics by Wang Bi and Guo Xiang as well as primary texts and commentaries of the Buddhist Tiantai and Huayan traditions." — Monumenta Serica