The Study of Logic Itself Was Thought Frivolous

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, in an article comparing Indian philosophy to Chinese (and both to Western philosophy): “Chinese thinkers were capable of using sophisticated logical moves in their arguments, but apart from some elements in the school of Mohism and during a brief period of early Chinese Buddhism, the study of logic itself was thought frivolous. And Chinese theories of language are not about representation but function: how can the proper use of titles relate to how people behave according to them? How, if at all, can terms for ethical and political behaviour be standardised across time? Since the person who was most influential in guiding proper conduct was the king, the understanding and following of his way (Dao) was considered important by many thinkers, giving practical political philosophy a central place in Chinese civilisation. Consider one example of this pragmatism: while western and Indian sceptics express doubt over whether we can ever systematically grasp the way things really are, the Chinese (especially Zhuangzi) ask whether we can ever affirm or discard one way of acting over another. Scepticism is directed at the determination of action rather than the justification of claims.”