Title

Naming, Reference and Truth

Publication Date

1-1-2020

Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Department

Philosophy

Publication Title

Dao Companion to Chinese Philosophy of Logic

Editor

Yiu-ming Fung

Volume

12

DOI

10.1007/978-3-030-29033-7_3

First Page

33

Last Page

70

Abstract

This writing focuses on those most reflectively interesting and arguably representative ideas on the issue of reference, as a semantic issue, in classical Chinese philosophy which are relevant to reasoning and semantic interpretation. My strategy is this. First, I explain several basic points as revealed in Gongsun Long’s account. Second, I analyze how, essentially in line with Gongsun Long’s relevant point, the Later Mohists significantly show their semantic sensitivity to the due identities of the referents in reasoning. Third, I look at how, essentially in line with Gongsun Long’s general point on the due-place actuality, Confucius’ account of name rectification together with Xun Zi’s and Wang Chong’s further developments addresses the issue of reference in moral reality. Fourth, I explain how Lao Zi makes interesting and engaging points concerning the relationship between language engagement and the ultimate concern and between the “speakable” and the “unspeakable”. Fifth, I briefly examine a relatively recent debate on the relation of the structure of Chinese nouns to Chinese thought from the referential point of view: I focus on how the mass-noun-semantics part of Hansen’s mass-noun hypothesis are challenged by some competing accounts in view of the referential relation between Chinese nouns and referents. Sixth, I end the examination with a brief discussion of how reference and truth, as two basic semantic notions, are intrinsically related.

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