The Rehabilitation of Spontaneity: A New Approach in Philosophy of Action

Submitted by James Miller on Fri, 04/09/2010 - 10:29
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TitleThe Rehabilitation of Spontaneity: A New Approach in Philosophy of Action
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsBruya, B. J.
JournalPhilosophy East & West
Pagination207 - 250
Date Published2010/04//
ISBN Number00318221
KeywordsChina, COGNITIVE science, Metaphysics, Philosophy, SCHOLARS, SPONTANEITY (Personality trait), Taoism

Scholars working in philosophy of action still struggle with the freedom/ determinism dichotomy that stretches back to Hellenist philosophy and the metaphysics that gave rise to it. Although that metaphysics has been repudiated in current philosophy of mind and cognitive science, the dichotomy still haunts these fields. As such, action is understood as distinct from movement, or motion. In early China, under a very different metaphysical paradigm, no such distinction is made. Instead, a notion of self-caused movement, or spontaneity, is elaborated. In this article a general conception of spontaneity from early Daoism is explained, detailing its constituent aspects. Similar notions appeared from time to time in Western philosophy, and these instances are pursued, exploring how their instantiations differed from Daoist spontaneity and why. Based on these approximate examples of spontaneity and on early Daoist spontaneity, new criteria are postulated for a plausible theory of action that dispenses with presuppositions that eventuate in a freedom/determinism dichotomy, and instead the possibility is offered of a general model of action that can be applied smoothly across current philosophical and cognitive scientific subdisciplines. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]Copyright of Philosophy East & West is the property of University of Hawaii Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)