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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 42, Issue 2, June 2002

Hui-Chieh Loy
Pages 193-208
DOI: 10.5840/ipq20024224

What Has J. L. Austin to Do with Confucius?

In the first chapter of Confucius: The Secular as Sacred, Herbert Fingarette argues that in the Analects Confucius holds the essence of human virtue to be a kind of magic power and this magic can be explained in terms of J. L. Austin’s analysis of the “performative utterance.” This paper attempts to explicate what Fingarette’s claims concerning magic and the “performative” amount to. I will argue that even though there is something to the underlying spirit of Fingarette’s project, he either misused or simply misunderstood Austin and, because of this misuse or misunderstanding, he has possibly misunderstood Confucius as well.

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