In this monograph-length article, which inaugurates a multipart symposium titled “Fuzzy Studies,” the significance and virtues of blur are investigated through the whole history of Chinese intellectual tradition. In the Western tradition, the blur of becoming seems to disqualify an object for knowledge; nothing can be an object of knowledge until the blur is resolved and clarity attained. Chinese tradition offers suggestive examples of the thought that blur, so far from being incompatible with knowledge, might be its condition of possibility and the explanation of its value. This article traces the development of this thought (the compatibility of knowledge and original becoming) in the work of the classical Confucian and Daoist thinkers, the art-of-war literature, Chan Buddhism, and medieval Neoconfucianism, with an eye to its usefulness for Western philosophy of knowledge.
Barry Allen; THE CLOUD OF KNOWING: Blurring the Difference with China. Common Knowledge 1 August 2011; 17 (3): 450–532. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-1305373
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