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Sedimentation in Chinese Aesthetics and Epistemology: A Buddhist Expansion of Confucian Philosophy


  • Sandra A. Wawrytko

    Corresponding author
    1. San Diego State University, San Diego, California
    • SANDRA A. WAWRYTKO, Professor, Department of Philosophy, San Diego State University. Specialties: Buddhist and Daoist epistemology, comparative philosophy. E-mail:

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Li Zehou's theory of sedimentation seeks to explain the uniqueness of the human species through its use of tools, both physical and cognitive, leading to cultures grounded in aesthetic taste and the prospect of suprabiological beings. However, the very sedimentation that constructs human culture can stagnate into obstructing sediment. Buddhist philosophy offers an epistemology of desedimentation that avoids attachment to cultural sediment without summarily rejecting its potential usefulness. More specifically, Buddhist “wisdom embracing all species” allows us to recognize our interconnection (pratītya-samutpāda) with nature by transcending anthropocentrism, and opening more effective strategies for dealing with ecological challenges.