Path-bound normativity and a Confucian case of historical holism

Yujian ZHENG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


I bring a new thesis of historical holism to bear on the well-known Mencius-Xunzi dispute about xing/性. The significance of doing so seems bi-directional: in the first direction, i.e. applying the thesis to the dispute, my reconstruction of both Mencius’s and Xunzi’s views aims at revealing a largely neglected but important aspect of Confucian thought. While in the second direction, whoever is otherwise convinced by the Mencian insight may find its successful reconstruction as a case of historical holism good evidence for the thesis itself, which seems ground-breaking in certain areas of contemporary analytic philosophy. The paper largely focuses on the first direction, with quite detailed exposition of key analytic elements for understanding historical holism. A notion of retrospective necessity stands out in the exposition, supporting the main idea of path-bound normativity which turns out to be, for our present case, a notion of implicit and endogenous normativity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-235
Number of pages21
JournalAsian Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date7 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Historical holism
  • Mencius-Xunzi dispute
  • path-bound normativity
  • retrospective necessity
  • xing/性


Dive into the research topics of 'Path-bound normativity and a Confucian case of historical holism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this