About Me and My Stories

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About Me

Hi there, I’m Wei Xiang — yes, that’s my first name. I’m ethically Chinese, so there’re two ‘words’ in my first name. But I wasn’t born in China. I’m Malaysian. My friends have called me Philokid. That’s because philosophy students are very (very) rare in Asia.

If it helps, I’m an INTJ. In short, I offend people quite a lot, both with my eccentric ideas and behavior. It’s never my intention to offend, but I’ll find some way to do so — something I’m not proud of, of course.

I’m currently studying philosophy at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. I’ve been…

Why are most Asian societies having a hard time justifying liberalism?

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In the past few decades, many Asian societies are fighting their own government against allegedly tyranny and suppression against individual liberty. Most involve the fight for a version of the First Amendment. Most demanded some form of freedom of speech and expression.

Hong Kong made headlines in 2019 in its protest against the tyranny of mainland China. Myanmar is now making headlines for its fight against a military dictatorship.

You’d think the biggest failure that happened in 1989 Tiananmen would deter any forms of future public protests, but it didn’t.

Social reforms don't happen overnight. One of the biggest problems…

A Buddhist theory of identity.

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What makes a person a person? What makes a thing a thing?

Suppose that I want to renovate my home. The furniture is old, and the walls are dilapidating. Gradually, I replace the oldest furniture with a new set. I then slowly repaint my walls. I even change the rusty doors and window frames. Over time, I’ve completely replaced almost everything in my home, except the concrete that’s holding my house.

Have I moved into a new home? Or am I still in my old home, just with new things in it?

This thought experiment is similar to a famous…

To Adorno, pop culture is a dangerous dominating ideology

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Films and radio no longer need to present themselves as art. The truth that they are nothing but business is used as an ideology to legitimize the trash they intentionally produce. They call themselves industries and the published figures for their directors’ incomes quell any doubts about the social necessity of their finished products.

In the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Marxist social critic Theodore Adorno writes that big production companies have heavily subjugated contemporary art to the detriment of the value of genuine art: creativity and individuality. The result of this monopoly is the creation of what we call “popular culture.”

The dilemma behind every controversy

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Oftentimes I don’t know whether to continue a conversation or just leave it as it is.

I firmly believe that it’s almost impossible to persuade people about something. As such, debates are pointlessly entertaining. It’s like watching Tom and Jerry attempting to beat each other up only to see them do it again in the next episode. It’s an endless process of back and forth, with no one coming out the wiser.

But some of us, the proponents of free speech, may retort: There are certainly benefits in debates and arguments. The speakers will learn about an opposing view, and…

Where did our contemporary conception of science come from?

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery by Joseph Wright of Derby.

Do you feel that there is a gap dividing science and philosophy that we should be mindful of? Do you believe this dichotomy is always arbitrary?

At the end of his article “When Scientists Accidentally Become Philosophers,” Derek London poses these questions. He attempts to warn us about the seemingly blur boundaries between statements of science and philosophy. Indeed, popular media has recently been portraying scientists as philosophers.

For instance, Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist and a public intellectual, often makes these seemingly philosophical claims like “We would know the mind of God.” …

A defense of Confucian partialist ethics.

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Suppose the devil came to me. He informed me that my brother was a fraud. He has been evading taxes for the past decade. He wants me to rat him out and report his unjust actions to the authorities. Of course, this would have him apprehended.

If I don’t do it, he will cast a spell on everyone on Earth. They will experience sporadic migraines for the rest of their lives. But the devil assured me that those migraines wouldn’t be painful; it’ll be a mere inconvenience. It’s just like pulling a door when it should be pushed.

The Kantians

Buddhism’s harshest critic in Chinese history

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Today, most of us know Buddhism as a religion. It’s placed alongside some of the world’s dominant religious sects, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. While Buddhism consists of various religious rituals and supernatural beliefs, it also consists of a culturally rich philosophy. And in the 8th and 9th centuries, Buddhism was the dominant state ideology in Imperial China.

Much like how Christianity was the dominant state ideology in Western European history, Buddhism took center stage during the Tang dynasty. Society was arranged around this philosophy. Monasteries were set up across Imperial China, offering religious practices to the masses. …

What would Zhuangzi say about our contemporary way of life?

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In Chinese (and Japanese), the word for “busy” is “忙 mang.” Those familiar with the composition of Chinese characters or Kanji will know that the word consists of two radicals: 心 (xin, the “heart/mind” radical) and 亡 (wang, the “death” radical). So, “busy” in Chinese and Japanese quite literary means “heart/mind death.”

If we interpret this literary, busyness is cardiac arrest. A busy person is brain dead. Hilarious, but one gets the metaphor easily.

Today, we use xin to translate “heart.” But in its classical context, its meaning is much richer. Classical Chinese philosophers believed that xin has the capacity…

Bringing back history into the Hong Kong Protests

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I woke up today to an email newsletter sent by The New York Times. I was once again reminded of the political fracture between Hong Kong and mainland China. The opening paragraph read:

Last week, on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China, a man stabbed a police officer on a busy commercial street, then killed himself. Then, on Tuesday, the police said they had arrested nine people — including six teenagers — over alleged plots to make bombs and plant them in public areas.

The conflict between Hong Kong and China reached its zenith during the end of…

Wei Xiang

I was once asked about the origins of the universe. So, here I am doing philosophy. Ethics | Intellectual History | Chinese Comparative Philosophy

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