Persons Emerging

Three Neo-Confucian Perspectives on Transcending Self-Boundaries

By Galia Patt-Shamir

Subjects: Chinese Religion And Philosophy, Confucianism, Comparative Philosophy, Ethics, Chinese Studies
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438485614, 276 pages, October 2021
Paperback : 9781438485607, 276 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents


Introduction A Riddle: The Person as the Way?

1. I Think, Therefore You Are: Emerging Out of Self-Boundaries in Early Confucianism

2. Emerging to a Self through Transcending the Infinitude-Finitude Dichotomy: Zhou Dunyi's Anthropocosmic Riddle and Its Response

3. Emerging through Transcending the In-Out Duality: Shao Yong's Epistemological Shift

4. Emerging Out of Life and Death: Zhang Zai's Pragmatic Point of View

Appendix A Brief Methodological Remark: Chan Buddhism and Living Riddles


Offers three neo-Confucian understandings of broadening the Way as broadening oneself, through an ongoing process of removing self-boundaries.


Persons Emerging explores the renewed idea of the Confucian person in the eleventh-century philosophies of Zhou Dunyi, Shao Yong, and Zhang Zai. Galia Patt-Shamir discusses their responses to the Confucian challenge that the Way, as perfection, can be broadened by the person who travels it. Suggesting that the three neo-Confucian philosophers undertake the classical Confucian task of "broadening the way," each proposes to deal with it from a different angle: Zhou Dunyi offers a metaphysical emerging out of the infinitude-finitude boundary, Shao Yong emerges out of the epistemological boundary between in and out, and Zhang Zai offers a pragmatic emerging out of the boundary between life and death.

Through the lens of these three Song-period China philosophers, the idea of "transcending self-boundaries" places neo-Confucian philosophies within the global philosophical context. Patt-Shamir questions the Confucian notions of person, Way, and how they relate to human flourishing to highlight how the emergence of personhood demands transcending metaphysical, epistemological, and moral self-boundaries.

Galia Patt-Shamir is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. She is the author of To Broaden the Way: A Confucian-Jewish Dialogue, and, in Hebrew, Tongshu—Text and Commentary and A Human Riddle: Human Nature in Chinese Philosophy.