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One and Many: A Comparative Study of Plato's Philosophy and Daoism Represented by Ge Hong
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400pp. December 2011
One and Many: A Comparative Study of Plato's Philosophy and Daoism Represented by Ge Hong
Author: Zhang, Ji;
Is the world one or many? Ji Zhang revisits this ancient philosophical question from the modern perspective of comparative studies. His investigation stages an intellectual exchange between Plato, founder of the Academy, and Ge Hong, who systematized Daoist belief and praxis. Zhang not only captures the tension between rational Platonism and abstruse Daoism, but also creates a bridge between the two.

53 illus.
Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy Monographs List, No. 22
“This is a work of great intellectual daring, requiring immense erudition and impressive power of synthesis. The topic, comparing the ontological ideas of Plato and Ge Hong with special reference to their implications for the one-many problem, is unique, stimulating and highly important, identifying a crucial area for cross-cultural and comparative research and producing a creative, informed, thoughtful, incisive and skillful response to the considerable challenge of making such an ambitious project bear fruit.” —Dr. Brook Ziporyn, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Department of Religious Studies, Northwestern University

“I am very impressed by the focus and consistently solid argumentation of this work. Comparisons can be odious, but this one works because the author has placed Plato and Ge Hong in the contexts of Greek and Chinese philosophical and religious thought, and with some aplomb has been able to test the two thinkers’ strengths and weaknesses against modern scientific findings.” —Dr. Garry W. Trompf, Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas, Department of Studies in Religion, The University of Sydney

“This work is an exploration and an instantiation of cross-cultural dialogue. But unlike most work in cross-cultural studies, it looks at the common questions facing humankind at a fundamental philosophical level, uncovering differences in basic assumptions about the world and, latent far below the surface, differences in logical operations. It makes a scholarly contribution that is not confined to any single humanistic discipline, for it points to the ways in which the world—and the ways in which we think about the world—can remain open.” —David Leopold Holm, National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan
Author: Zhang, Ji;
Ji Zhang is formerly a Sanderson Fellow and now Research Associate of the Uniting Church Theological College which, through the United Faculty of Theology, forms part of the Melbourne College of Divinity. He is also an ordained minister of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Read the Introduction (PDF).
List of Figures 
Abbreviations 
Introduction “One and Many” as an Ontological Problem 

Part One Textual Studies 
Chapter 1 Ge Hong’s Doctrine of Xuan Dao  
Chapter 2 Plato’s Answer to the Pre-Socratic Debate 
Chapter 3 Ge Hong’s Preservation of the One 
Chapter 4 Plato’s Doctrine of Forms 
Chapter 5 Two Forms of Enlightenment 
Chapter 6 Ge Hong’s Doctrine of Immortal Beings 

Part Two Comparative Ontology 
Chapter 7 Nothing 
Chapter 8 The One 
Chapter 9 The Many 

Conclusion Comparative Methodology 
Notes 
Bibliography 
Index 



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