The question of whether or not early Chinese philosophers had a concept of truth has been the topic of some scholarly debate over the past few decades. The present essay offers a novel assessment of the debate, and suggests that no answer is fully satisfactory, as the plausibility of each turns in no small part on difficult and unsettled philosophical issues prior to the interpretation of any ancient Chinese philosophical texts—particularly the issues of what it means to “have a concept” and how we understand the concept of truth itself. This essay summarizes prominent views within the debate over truth and Chinese philosophy and offers conditional assessments of each answer with respect to contemporary theories of concepts and theories of truth. The essay concludes with an appeal to methodological and interpretive pluralism, within reasonable constraints, in discussions of this topic.
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