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Goblet Words Zhīyán (卮言, literally "goblet words") is an ancient Chinese rhetorical device, supposedly named in analogy with a type of zhi wine vessel that tilts over when full and rights itself when empty. The Daoist classic Zhuangzi first recorded this term for a mystical linguistic ideology, which is generally interpreted to mean fluid language that maintains its equilibrium through shifting meanings and viewpoints, thus enabling one to spontaneously go along with all sides of an argument.
Guo Xiang (252-312 CE), the earliest redactor and editor of the Zhuangzi, explains how "goblet words" suí (隨, "follow after; pursue; go along with; naturally adjust to") the changing meanings of their referents like a self-righting zhi goblet: “A goblet when full gets tipped and when empty is set upright [夫巵 滿則傾 空則仰]—it does not just stay the same. How much the more this is true of words, for they change [隨] according to what they refer to.”
The crosslinguistic difficulties of deciphering the Zhuangzi make translating the Old Chinese word zhiyan (卮言, lit. "goblet word/saying") an endless effort: The Zhuangzi commentary of Wang Xianqian (王先謙, 1842-1917) says liquids adjust to a goblet's shape like goblet words follow individual semantics, and advises us to think flexibly and agree with the inconsistencies of what people say.
John Allen Tucker, professor of East Asian history, says the zhi goblet, which repeatedly fills and empties itself, does not remain in any particular condition, its equilibrium exists in disequilibrium, and zhiyan "goblet words" are a metaphor for the dialectic in the Zhuangzi that goes from one possibility to the next, assuming perspectives often in order to ridicule them, but never clinging to any position itself. This particular goblet is also a Zhuangzian metaphor that expresses the semantic relationship between words and their meanings. "The goblet is like a word, the meaning is like the wine. Though the goblet can hold wine, and a word, meaning, this kind of goblet continuously spills its wine, just as words spill their meaning, and then both wait for another use. But like the goblet, there is no particular meaning which is statically filling the word, never being emptied or renewed."
Professor of Chinese literature Shuen-fu Lin correlates zhi, the empty goblet that does not hold onto anything, with xin "heart-mind" and explains how zhiyan "goblet words" can adapt the meaning of any term: [T]he zhi—a wine vessel used as a metaphor for the mind [xin]—is originally empty and gets temporarily filled with liquid—a metaphor for words—which comes from a larger wine container only when the occasion requires one to do so.... Since the mind is like the zhi vessel without any fixed or constant rules or values of its own stored in there, and takes ideas always from outside when the occasion for speech arises, it will never impose artificial distinctions and discriminations upon things. This is what [is meant by] "mindless"—the "mind" to be done away with here is, of course, the chengxin or "fully formed heart/mind" ... Zhiyan [spillover sayings], then, is speech that is natural, unpremeditated, free from preconceived values, always responding to the changing situations in the flow of discourse, and always returning the mind to its original state of emptiness as soon as a speech act is completed.
Researcher Jeremy Griffith compares Zhuangzian zhiyan "spillover-goblet words" with Plato's image of "leaky-pots" symbolizing the impossibility of language in a state of flux. Youru Wang, professor of Religion Studies, describes zhiyan: "They adapt to and follow along with changes in things and people. They are not fixed signifiers or signifieds. Therefore, though they seem outlandish or absurd, deviating from common sense or formal logic, they are in harmony with what is natural (what is spontaneously so), with the flux of all things and circumstances."
Professor of Asian and comparative philosophy Alan Fox says the willingness to surrender one's own perspective to the perspective of another person is "a prerequisite to effective communication," and quotes the final passage in Zhuangzi chapter 26, "A fish-trap is for catching fish; once you've caught the fish, you can forget about the trap. .... Words are for catching ideas; once you've caught the idea, you can forget about the words. Where can I find a person who knows how to forget about words so that I can have a few words with him?"
Truth Good Beauty: Ancient Greek philosophy Socrates describes the philosopher's role in this learning process as that of a midwife. What he helps to coax and deliver from the soul is truth, that which is now and must be eternally so. As distinguished from opinion, truth is thus described as transcendent of the ever-changing physical world, being of the same nature as the soul and is in fact an integral aspect of each and every soul's awareness. The source of truth and the soul is the ultimate reality, what Socrates describes as the Good.
As with Socrates, Plato's dialectical process in eliciting knowledge is one of recollection in which truth is revealed by means of reason alone. For Plato reason is an essential character of the soul and is occupied with pure ideals. The method of dialectic directs the soul's inner eye to look beyond the changing particulars of mundane existence, unlocking the soul's consciousness to focus on the Forms, the eternal truths, the knowledge of the Good. Complimenting truth, beautyis described as the expression of the Good. Whereas truth instructs the soul about the Good, beauty motivates the soul towards it.
As Aristotle contests the idea of innate knowledge resident in an eternal soul, seeking truth will need another means other than recollection through dialectic. The method Aristotle proposes is one of induction which originates in experience and the senses. Although the senses are notoriously unreliable, cumulative experiences can allow us to distinguish patterns. Aristotle describes an elevated "common sense" existing in the mind, where the experiences of all the other senses rushing in are unified into an organized experience of memory.
At the highest level of being, Aristotle identifies beauty with the Good; it is the Unmoved Mover, the final cause of all things that is desired for its own sake and sets the entire cosmos in motion by the attraction it exercises. Beauty engenders love which is held as the highest virtue, the driving and unifying force. Aristotle relates, “if all people competed for the beautiful, and strained to do the most beautiful things, everything people need in common, and the greatest good for each in particular, would be achieved."
Mind-Self-Society: Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic interactionism is a theoretical perspective in sociology that addresses the manner in which society is created and maintained through face-to-face, repeated, meaningful interactions among individuals.
It is derived from American pragmatism and particularly from the work of George Herbert Mead, who argued that people’s selves are social products, but that these selves are also purposive and creative. Herbert Blumer, a former student and interpreter of Mead, coined the term ‘symbolic interactionism’ and put forward an influential summary of the perspective stating that:
people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them, and
these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation.
Mind, Self, and Society is a book based on the teaching of American sociologist George Herbert Mead's, published posthumously in 1934 by his students. It is credited as the basis for the theory of symbolic interactionism. Mind refers to an individual's ability to use symbols to create meanings for the world around the individual – individuals use language and thought to accomplish this goal. Self refers to an individual's ability to reflect on the way that the individual is perceived by others. Finally, society, according to Mead, is where all of these interactions are taking place.
He also explains that the self is a social process with communication between the "I", the pure form of self, and the "Me", the social form of self. "I" becomes a response to the "Me" and vice versa. That same "I" deals with the response of an individual and the "Me" is considered the attitudes you take on, both being related to social selves.
Object-Maker-Viewer: Aesthetic Relationships Aesthetics is not about "things" but about systems of ecological relationships and the processes that create these relationships and aid in their interpretation. The three primary players in this ecological balancing act are: the visible object itself, the maker of this object, and the intended viewer. Figure 1.1 illustrates the interactive nature of these three elements.
The physical object itself contains observable relational properties among and between all the visible elements. Every line, shape, value, color, and so on, is related to the other visible elements. Creating meaningful connectedness between the developing visible form and a hoped for message is the goal of the maker. The physical, concrete nature is therefore vital to both the viewer and the maker, helping them connect and communicate.
As the image-maker engages in shaping the emerging system of phenomenological elements, an intimate relationship develops between object and maker. To fully participate in the creative process, the maker must focus on all emerging physical relationships, mental nonmaterial relationships, plus the relationship to personal intentions and goals.
There must also be a concern for the potential response of the viewing audience. While creating, the maker also serves as an initial viewer of the emerging image. Other viewers will also get visible information from the perception of the object. Short of explicit verbal statements of intention by the maker, the visually literate viewer needs to complete the maker's creative act by interpreting these relationships among visible relationships in the created object.
Aesthetics permeates all interactions between these three components of visual communication. Relationships may not immediately reveal the exact intentions of the creator or help the viewer discover any potential hidden interpretations; but intentions, of both the maker and the viewer can alter everyone's perspective on imagistic meaning.
Knowledge of meaning can become clearer through a deliberate process of analysis and interpretation. Heightened awareness of one's own mental imagery is the first step to accessing this deeper aesthetic aspect of visual communication.
Whole-Parts Theory Part–whole theory is the name of a loose collection of historical theories, all informal and nearly all unwitting, relating wholes to their parts via inclusion. Part–whole theory has been overtaken by mereology. Metaphysics, especially ontology, has invoked part–whole concepts ever since Aristotle founded the subject. In metaphysics there are many troubling questions pertaining to parts and wholes. One question addresses constitution and persistence, another asks about composition.
In metaphysics, there are several puzzles concerning cases of mereological constitution. That is, what makes up a whole. We are still concerned with parts and wholes, but instead of looking at what parts make up a whole, we are wondering what a thing is made of, such as its materials: e.g. the bronze in a bronze statue. Below are two of the main puzzles that philosophers use to discuss constitution.
Ship of Theseus: Briefly, the puzzle goes something like this. There is a ship called the Ship of Theseus. Over time, the boards start to rot, so we remove the boards and place them in a pile. First question, is the ship made of the new boards the same as the ship that had all the old boards? Second, if we reconstruct a ship using all of the old planks, etc. from the Ship of Theseus, and we also have a ship that was built out of new boards (each added one-by-one over time to replace old decaying boards), which ship is the real Ship of Theseus?
Statue and Lump of Clay: Roughly, a sculptor decides to mold a statue out of a lump of clay. At time t1 the sculptor has a lump of clay. After many manipulations at time t2 there is a statue. The question asked is, is the lump of clay and the statue (numerically) identical? If so, how and why? Constitution typically has implications for views on persistence: how does an object persist over time if any of its parts (materials) change or are removed, as is the case with humans who lose cells, change height, hair color, memories, and yet we are said to be the same person today as we were when we were first born.
In Metaphysics, Aristotle introduces the distinction between matter and form synchronically, applying it to an individual substance at a particular time. The matter of a substance is the stuff it is composed of; the form is the way that stuff is put together so that the whole it constitutes can perform its characteristic functions. But soon he begins to apply the distinction diachronically, across time. This connects the matter/form distinction to another key Aristotelian distinction, that between potentiality (dunamis) and actuality (entelecheia) or activity (energeia).
Aristotle returns to the problem of the unity of definition and offers a new solution based on the concepts of potentiality and actuality. He begins by pointing out that the things whose unity he is trying to explain are those “that have several parts and where the totality of them is not like a heap, but the whole is something beyond the parts.” His task is to explain the unity of such complexes.
The problem is insoluble, he says, unless one realizes that “there is on the one hand matter and on the other shape (or form, morphê), and the one is potentially and the other actively.” Once one realizes this, “then what we are inquiring into will no longer seem to be a puzzle.”