This talk introduces the idea of “orientative philosophy” proposed by Lao Sze-Kwang (1927-2012) to understand the basic characteristics and interest of Chinese philosophy. Lao’s characterization of orientative philosophy as reflective thinking which aims at bringing about “self-transformation” and “transformation of the world” has the advantage of providing a key to understand the famous ethical turn of Foucault shown in the later volumes of his History of Sexuality and in The Hermeneutics of the Subject. In fact, the last Foucault uses precisely the terms “transformative test of the self”, “self-transformation into moral subject”, or “transformation of the subject”, close to Lao’s “self-transformation”, to bring to a new light the essence of philosophical activity in Greek and Roman Antiquity. Foucault proposes to characterize the form of philosophical activity in Western Antiquity as “spirituality” after Pierre Hadot in distinction to philosophy in its modern form since Descartes.
Yet we find that Husserl’s practice of the phenomenological method of epoché and reduction, as an act leading to the self-transformation of the philosophizing subject, shares features of spirituality as understood by Foucault. It is on the basis of the self-transformation of the human subject, through which she discovers and comes to terms with her own subjectivity, that the phenomenological philosopher is engaged in an act of radical responsibility toward herself, enabling her to carry out the mission of being “functionaries of humankind” as prescribed by Husserl in The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Motivated by this supreme ethical telos, the basic attitude underlying the phenomenological attitude is arguably also ethical and practical in nature. Thus Lao Sze-Kwang’s idea of orientative philosophy can serve as a bridge between ancient and contemporary Western philosophies on the one hand, and between contemporary Eastern and Western philosophers on the other.
Place：1st Floor Conference Room, Information Build.,NCCU