From the “Three Immortals” to the “Four Immortals”: Professor Tang Chun-Yi’s Creative Interpretation
More than twenty centuries ago Chinese culture adopted Confucianism as its leading philosophy. This philosophy does not want people to think much about death, as is said: “when life is unknown, how can you search the meaning of death.” The disciples of Confucius concentrated their energy on the present life, morality and politics with very little concern for the ultimate problem. Tang Chun-Yi made himself known to people when he was living in Hong Kong in the 1950s. He used European philosophical wisdom and the Chinese classics to reinterpret Chinese philosophy. He brought new insight. One of the topics he discussed was death. Tang knows that we cannot penetrate phenomena to see what lies behind them. However, we can through phenomena to detect ultimate reality. He was sure that life does not disappear at the moment of death, but that it continues to exist in a different way. We do not know where our soul is or how it is, but we can relate to it with deep affection. People who live apart yet love each other deeply can be united in loving thought and through sacrificial rites. This experience escapes rationalists. Tang coined the phrase: “true affection and love make communication between the living and the dead.” The living and the dead come together in an affective presence to each other. Physical death is not the end of life; it is only a temporary end. Tang holds that we can think, talk and know death to some degree. He overthrows the traditional view of death in Chinese thought. This is his creative view. His reflection on death is that man has a true and personal immortality beyond the traditional “three immortals”.
|關鍵詞||唐君毅、死亡、生命現象、祭祀、Tang Chun-Yi、death、life phenomena、sacrificial rite|