Civil Philosophy
Taiwan sits in a special place where the US-dominated Western civilization and the classical civilization inherited from East Asia collide. The position is also where one may hope to build a theoretical model for civic and philosophical discourses by breaking the existing cognitive inertia from the fringe and, consequently, reframing ways of doing philosophy that are worth developing. I call any philosophy developed from a cobbling together of insights from civic and philosophical perspectives a “civic philosophy,” or “civil philosophy” when I wish to emphasize the civilizational aspect of it. Civic philosophy, I venture to say, may be briefly characterized as follows. When mythology gradually faded in the classical period, philosophy pursued a kind of divine wisdom, and metaphysics was the first philosophy during this time. Since the Enlightenment, when people began to enjoy the identity of a human being, philosophy has sought to explore every possibility of human wisdom, and epistemology became the first philosophy of this period. In the 21st century, in an era when most people do not have to fight for citizenship, but have been embroiled in intractable value conflicts and deep political disagreements, we need to create a philosophy from the civic perspective and pursues civic wisdom. Thus characterized, civic philosophy is an ambitious approach to what a new paradigm for the first philosophy in our era should look like. The civic philosophy that I proposed comprises three core ideas: the idea of reframing as a method of philosophizing, the idea of cognitive diversity as a foothold for philosophical inquiry, and the idea that civic perspective is constitutive of the emerging first philosophy in our era. This civic philosophy shows a possible and intelligible way of crafting an empirically grounded theoretical and practical explanation of how the ideal of value pluralism and the political imagination of community with a sense of common belonging and shared future, which are implicit in our political culture, can be integrated into a coherent whole from the civic perspective. The theoretical model of the coupling between causality and freedom of choice that I proposed is crucial to this integration.