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Historical Developments The Classical Period Historical Developments Han Cosmology Historical Developments The Buddhist Period Historical Developments The Neo-Confucian Period Introduction Conceptual and Theoretical Matters Classical Chinese theory of mind is similar to Western folk psychology in that both mirror their respective background view of language They differ in ways that fit those folk theories of language The core Chinese concept is xin the heart-mind As the translation suggests Chinese folk psychology lacked a contrast between cognitive and affective states representative ideas cognition reason beliefs versus desires motives emotions feelings The xin guides action but not via beliefs and desires It takes input from the world and guides action in light of it Most thinkers share those core beliefs Herbert Fingarette argued that Chinese Confucius at least had no psychological theory Along with the absence of belief-desire explanation of action they do not offer psychological inner mental representation explanations of language meaning We find neither the focus on an inner world populated with mental objects nor any preoccupation with questions of the correspondence of the subjective and objective worlds Fingarette explained this as reflecting an appreciation of the deep conventional nature of both linguistic and moral meaning He saw this reflected in the Confucian focus on li ritual and its emphasis on sociology and history rather than psychology The meaning the very existence of a handshake depends on a historical convention It rests on no mental acts such as sincerity or intent The latter may accompany the conventional act and give it a kind of aesthetic grace but they do not explain itFingarette overstates the point of course It may not be psychologistic in its linguistic or moral theory but Confucianism still presupposes a psychology albeit not the familiar individualist mental or cognitive psychology Its account of human function in conventional historical society presupposes some behavioral and dispositional traits Most Chinese thinkers indeed appear to presuppose that humans are social not egoistic or individualistic The xin
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