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Xunzi's Sanhuo (Three Types Of Cognitive Delusions)


  • The research for this work was supported in part by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2010-32A-A00047), and a Sogang University Research Grant of 2009 (200911030.01). I also wish to express my gratitude for the Editor-in-Chief, Chung-ying Cheng, a blind reviewer, and the Managing Editor, Linyu Gu, for their valuable and determinative comments and correction. I gratefully acknowledge that Dr. John Trowbridge proofread and copyedited the previous draft.

CHAEHYUN CHONG, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Sogang University. Specialties: classic Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, philosophy of language and logic. E-mail:


This article explicates Xunzi's three types of cognitive delusions in Xunzi's Zhengming Pian. The followings are my conclusions: first, general names such as “a white horse,” “a horse,” “a thief,” and “a man” are thought of as proper nouns because the classic Chinese theory of language concerned pragmatics rather than semantics. Second, classic Chinese epistemology does not address conceptual (logical) knowledge or knowledge based on argumentation distinguished from the art of description. Third, Gongsun Long believes in an extreme form of one-name-one-thingism. Fourth, Neo-Moists' theory of inference is based on intensional contexts. Fifth, Hui Shi's position presupposes the art of knowing objects before any verbal expression and suggests the arbitrariness in the expressions of known objects. Sixth, Xunzi's logic and semantics are extensional.