道南書院 魏盛 摘述
Thomé H. Fang and Whitehead
-- Two Pillars of Process Throught East and West
Suncrates (President, Thomé H. Fang Institute, Inc.)
Present to the 6th International Whitehead Conference, 2006 .
As one of the greatest minds of contemporary China, Fang proves most congenial to the Whiteheadian way in doing philosophy and in living an authentic human life as well.
He has brought the great Whiteheadian philosophico-religious insights and visions across the Pacific and spread them via his lectures and writings to the tender minds of the younger generation Chinese scholars; moreover, by employing the elegance, precision, and vivid expression of the Whiteheadian language, he has succeeded in rendering a great service to the West and, on that matter, to the whole world as well, by rendering highly intelligible the essentials of Chinese metaphysical ingenuity and its achievements and contributions.
Fang is thus enabled to serve as really a bridge-builder since the mid-50s linking the East and the West as a Whole.
1. Whitehead is likened to Sudhana (a character of all-around capabilities”) in the Avatamsaka Sutra [by Fang]. “In this [ultimate] general position the philosophy of organism seems to approximate more to some strains of Indian, or Chinese, thought, than to western Asiatic, or European thought. One side makes process ultimate; the other side makes fact ultimate.” (Alfred N. Whitehead, Process and Reality)
2. Fang was challenged and invited by Dr. Radharkrishnan (heading the Indian Delegation of Culture and Education) to serve as spokesman for the philosophical and cultural heritage of their nation, respectively. For philosophical expression the choice of language is of decisive importance. Fang’s intentional adoption of a Whiteheadian language, both for adequate expression of Chinese and Buddhist views as well, is a wise choice well grounded on such an awareness: The Chinese-Whiteheadian affinity, if thought through, is more an affinity in “world perspectives” (Weltansichten) than one in “sounds or signs”.
3. As far as his general position is concerned, Fang belongs to the same grand camp as Dewey, Bergson, and Whitehead, surely not without a Neo-Hegelian tincture and tonality. Generally, the distinguishing marks for the synthetic [opposite to analytic, according to Bertrand Russell] type of minds are (1) the organismic vision of the Whole and (2) the will to unification. But to be added specifically for our present case are (3) the search for Perfection, (4) the drive towards Harmony (“Apratihata” in Sanskrit), and (5) the lure for Beauty, etc. All these can be said to have been derived from a “value-centric outlook” in general, hence a commitment to a value-centric philosophy of Nature.
4. “Western ontology has been grounded on a formal logic fixed in formulas of static identity. Plato in later dialogues, especially in the Sophists, Bergson in Creative Evolution, Whitehead in Process and Reality, and Heidegger in Being and Time are exceptions. These exceptions, however, prove the rule which always applies in Oriental philosophy.” (Thomé H. Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature)
5. The wondrous way of Heaven as taught in Chinese philosophy finds its parallels in Whitehead’s works, especially Process and Reality, beginning with his process view of Reality, and culminating in his dipolar theory of God as both Primordial and Consequent. Much of his treatment of God and the world, as found in the concluding chapter of Process and Reality, echoes the Confucian Commentary to the Appendices to the Book of Creativity.
6. The most valuable Whiteheadian legacy is to be found in his formulation of the fallacies committed in Western tradition, some persistent since the time of ancient Greece, some prominent in the last three hundred years. Fang has endorsed himself almost entirely to the refutation of all these fallacies [in particular, vicious bifurcation and isolated systems]. Just as the Vijñana-Vadian Buddhists call for “the successful transformation of consciousness into wisdom”, similarly process philosophers like Fang and Whitehead call for “the successful transcendence beyond fallacies towards wisdom.” The end-results of fallacies spells stupidism par excellence; conjoint efforts are needed to initialize human awareness so as to create a New Philosophy Towards Wisdom.
7. In the Whiteheadian terminologies Fang accomplished two Herculean tasks in the world of comparative philosophy. One is his ingenious formulation and interpretation of the metaphysical principles as embodied in The Book of Creativity; the other, his insightful elucidation of the essentials of the Hua Yan (Avatamsaka) philosophy.
8. Metaphysics is the endeavor to frame a coherent, interdependent, and open system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted. Fang’s formulation in the Whiteheadian language the Chinese position in terms of four principles: (1) Principle of Life; (2) Principle of Creative Advance; (3) Principle of Extensive Connection; and (4) Principle of Creative Life as Process of Value-Realization.
9. In comparative studies of any field, due recognition of similarities is not as important as due appreciation of differences. Difference provides contrasts, and contrasts are indispensable as the “mode of synthesis”. ...Take for example the sinicization of Mahayana Buddhism in China. ...The Chinese genius of synthesis or creative appropriation has helped consummate Buddhism and has charted out a route to the goal of a world philosophical synthesis at the same time.
10. Following Hui Yuan’s epoch-making contribution of the doctrine of Universal Relational Origination (Infinite Relational Origination), Du-Shun summed up the entire Hua Yan philosophy under a few grand principles, particularly, the doctrine of Three Grand Views of (1) the True Void; of (2) the inter-penetration of Reason and Events: and of (3) universal coprehension.