School of Names

The Logicians or School of Names (Chinese: 名家; pinyin: Míngjiā) was a school of Chinese philosophy that grew out of Mohism during the Warring States period in 479–221 BCE. It is also sometimes called the School of Forms and Names (Chinese: 形名家; pinyin: Xíngmíngjiā; Wade–Giles: Hsing2-ming2-chia1).[1] Deng Xi has been named its founder.


The philosophy of the Logicians is often considered to be akin to those of the sophists or of the dialecticians. Joseph Needham notes that their works have been lost, except for the partially preserved Gongsun Longzi, and the paradoxes of Chapter 33 of the Zhuangzi.[2] Needham considers the disappearance of the greater part of Gongsun Longzi one of the worst losses in the ancient Chinese books, as what remains is said to reach the highest point of ancient Chinese philosophical writing.[1]

One of the few surviving lines from the school, "a one-foot stick, every day take away half of it, in a myriad ages it will not be exhausted," resembles Zeno's paradoxes. However, some of their other aphorisms seem contradictory or unclear when taken out of context, for example, "Dogs are not hounds."[3]

They were opposed by the Later Mohists for their paradoxes.[4]

See also



  1. 1 2 Needham 1956 p. 185
  2. Needham 1956
  3. Miscellaneous Paradoxes
  4. Bryan W. Van Norden 2011. p.111. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy.


  • Fraser, Chris. "School of Names." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Graham, A.C., Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China (Open Court 1993). ISBN 0-8126-9087-7
  • Needham, Joseph (1956), Science and Civilisation in China, 2 History of Scientific Thought, p. 697, ISBN 0-521-05800-7 
  • Hansen, Chad The School of Names: Linguistic Analysis in China // A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Interpretation. Oxford University Press, USA. 2000. ISBN 0195134192. P. 233—264.
  • Solomon, Bernard S., On the School of Names in Ancient China (Monumenta Serica Monograph Series LXIV). Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, Steyler Verlag, 2013 ISBN 978-3-8050-0610-1.
  • Reding, Jean-Paul, 1985, Les fondements philosophiques de la rhetorique chez les sophistes grecs et chez les sophistes chinois, Berne: Lang.
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