Kung-Sun Lung

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Kung-Sun Lung

 

(fourth to third centuries B.C.), ancient Chinese philosopher, dialectician, and sophist; a member of the so-called school of names (ming chia), which investigated the relationship between a “name,” that is, a concept, and reality. A treatise by Kung-sun Lung, Kung-sun Lung-tzu, presented the paradox that “a white horse is not a horse,” which became famous in Chinese philosophy. The proof of this paradox lies in the fact that, first, the notion of “horse” pertains to form, whereas the notion of “white” pertains to color, and therefore they do not coincide; second, the concept of “horse” is broader than the concept of “white horse.” Kung-sun Lung also set forth other paradoxes resembling the aporias of Zeno of Elea (for example, “a flying arrow is neither in motion nor at rest”). Kung-sun Lung introduced the concept of chih (literally, “indicators”), which denotes attributes that exist independently of things and through which things manifest themselves. Some researchers draw an analogy between these attributes and the ideas of Plato.

REFERENCES

Bykov, F. S. Zarozhdenie obshchestvenno-politicheskoi ifilosofskoimysli v Kitae. Moscow, 1966.
Fung Yu-lan. A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 1. Princeton,1952.

V. A. RUBIN

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Gongsun Long was able to postulate a "horse as such," (26) and the serious point of his discourse is probably that this concept corresponds to no empirical reality; but this is a proposition that Plato, Aristotle, or Thomas Aquinas would have no problem with.
So, one story goes, when Gongsun Long rode up to the toll gate on his white horse, the gatekeeper could not refute the argument, but still made Gongsun pay the regular fee for a horse.