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Zhenzhi and Acknowledgment in Wang Yangming and Stanley Cavell


  • This is the original acknowledgment that appeared in the aforementioned issue of this journal: “A draft of this article was read at the 2009 International Symposium on Chinese Philosophy and Analytic Philosophy at East China Normal University in Shanghai on June 19, and at the 2009 Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in New York City, December 29. I wish to thank the participants at each of these gatherings for their questions and comments. I also wish to express my gratitude to the Editor-in-Chief, Chung-ying Cheng, for his helpful comments on an earlier draft; to the Managing Editor, Linyu Gu, for her careful guidance in preparing the final draft; and to Mathew Foust for organizing both the APA special session and this special issue of the Journal devoted to new comparisons of Chinese and American philosophies. I am especially grateful to Stephen Angle, not only for his comments on an earlier draft but also for introducing me to the thought of Wang Yangming at the NEH Summer Seminar ‘Traditions into Dialogue: Confucianism and Contemporary Virtue Ethics’ held at Wesleyan University in 2008.”

WILLIAM DAY, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Le Moyne College. Specialties: aesthetics, American philosophy, theory of knowledge. E-mail:


This article highlights sympathies between Wang Yangming's notion of zhenzhi (real knowing) and Stanley Cavell's concept of acknowledgment. I begin by noting a problem in interpreting Wang on the unity of knowing and acting, which leads to considering how our suffering pain figures in our “real knowing” of another's pain. I then turn to Cavell's description of a related problem in modern skepticism, where Cavell argues that knowing another's pain requires acknowledging it. Cavell's concept of acknowledgment answers to Wang's insistence that knowing and acting are one, and corrects Antonio Cua's very different appropriation of “acknowledgment” to explain Wang's doctrine.