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Dialogue and Impromptu Words

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Western philosophy and Chinese wisdom seem incommensurable: one employs dialogue the other impromptu words. It seems as if the very notion of universality is tied to the Western notion of dialogue, and that dialogue between the two cultures necessarily will be on Western terms and put Chinese thought in a subaltern position. I show, on the contrary, that it is possible to develop a non-dialogical notion of universality based on Zhuangzi's impromptu words. I compare Zhuangzi's impromptu words with the function of the word in the later Heidegger, and show that it was on the basis of the universal dimension opened up by the impromptu word that Heidegger was able to encounter Chinese thought.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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