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May 3 James Dominic Rooney Talk: "Zhu Xi 朱熹Can Explain the Composition of Ordinary Material Objects (Yet Wang Fuzhi 王夫之 and Friends Cannot)"
Date:2018-04-26  Clicks:10

Zhu Xi 朱熹Can Explain the Composition of Ordinary Material Objects (Yet Wang Fuzhi 王夫之 and Friends Cannot)

Fr. James Dominic Rooney, OP

WHU Philosophy Spring Seminar Series

Thursday 3 May 2018


In contemporary metaphysics, there is a prominent view known as hylomorphism.' Zhu Xis (朱熹) account of li-qi (-) composition is, I propose, a close theoretical cousin to hylomorphism. However, Zhu Xi can be plausibly interpreted as holding that there is numerically one li that enters into composition with every material objects qi. Further, Zhu Xi was attacked by Wang Fuzhi 王夫之 (among others) for holding that li has a metaphysical role in constituting material objects, rather than being a merely logical’ principle. Both of these issues in relation to Zhu Xi's ontology can be used to illustrate how one should go about consistently restricting composition: first, that even if there was only one essence for all objects, there need to be individual truthmakers that explain their intrinsic properties and powers; second, such truthmakers must play a metaphysical role like Zhu Xi’s li or medieval scholasticism's ‘substantial forms’.

About the Speaker

Fr. James Dominic Rooney, OP, is a Dominican friar and a PhD student at St. Louis University (St. Louis, MO, USA). He holds Masters' degrees in theology and in philosophy, having attended Catholic University of America and Aquinas Institute of Theology. His areas of specialization are metaphysics, medieval philosophy, and philosophical theology, with additional areas of competence in ancient and Neo-Confucian philosophy, ethics, and epistemology. He has published in the Heythrop Journal, the Journal of Church and State, the International Journal of Systematic Theology, and the Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Suggested Background Reading


Liu, Jeeloo (2005) ‘ The Status of Cosmic Principle (Li) in Neo-Confucian Metaphysics.pdf’, in Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 32, 3, pp. 391-407.


When and Where

Pre-Seminar Briefing

· When: 14:30-15:30

· Where: B301, School of Philosophy


· When: 15:30-16:00

· Where: Starbucks (all welcome, at own expense)

Seminar Presentation:

· When: 16:00-17:15

· Where: B301, School of Philosophy