Conceptions of Genuine Knowledge in Wang Yangming

Oxford Studies in Epistemology 7 (2023)
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This paper studies one aspect of the great Ming dynasty philosopher Wang Yangming’s (王陽明 1472-1529) celebrated doctrine of the unity of knowledge and action (zhi xing he yi 知行合一). Wang states that his doctrine does not apply to all knowledge, but only to an elevated form of knowledge, which he sometimes calls “genuine knowledge” (zhen zhi 真知). But what is “genuine knowledge”? I develop and compare four different interpretations of this notion: the perceptual, practical, normative and introspective models. The main aim of the paper is to develop these models in more detail than has been done before. But at the end of the paper I argue that the introspective model is to be preferred over the alternatives.

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Harvey Lederman
University of Texas at Austin


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