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One and ManyA Comparative Study of Plato's Philosophy and Daoism Represented by Ge Hong$
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Ji Zhang

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835545

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835545.001.0001

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The Many

The Many

(p.238) Chapter 9 The Many
One and Many

Ji Zhang

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores two distinct natural philosophies: Ge Hong's alchemical universe and Plato's geometrical world. It begins with a critique of the “alchemy as chemistry” thesis in Daoist studies, intending to free alchemy from the need to explain itself by the means of modern science. The chapter then introduces the “alchemy-cosmogony” approach while placing Ge Hong's instrumental studies of minerals in dialogue with Plato's geometrical structures of matter. Despite the fact that neither Daoists nor Platonists would normally venture into the textual tradition of the other, the one and many question has brought them together through the investigation of two overlapping issues: how two distinctive forms of ontology shape two different forms of natural philosophy, and how different ontologies also give rise to different epistemologies.

Keywords:   natural philosophy, Ge Hong, alchemical universe, Plato, geometrical world, Daoists, Platonists, epistemology

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