AAS Annual Meeting

China and Inner Asia Session 671

[ China and Inner Asia Sessions, Table of Contents | Panels by World Area Main Menu ]

Session 671: Dynastic Histories II

Ordering the World - Shao Yong and the Idea of History
Martin Doesch, University of Erlangen, Germany

In his major work Huangji jingshi shu the Song dynasty philosopher Shao Yong (1012-1077) has written about history (past), cosmology (present), and divination (future). In my paper I will examine his thoughts on history employing the succession of political power forms huang, di, wang, ba. In (cyclical) models of history authors usually start with an (ideal, good) original state (mythical origin) which is step by step deteriorating (theories of decadence). By reaching the worst state there shall be a revolving back to the original (ideal, good) state. But usually there is little explanation about this process (except a Christian deus who will come at the end of days). So the question how can a thinkable best state arise from a thinkable worst one remains unsolved. In the case of Shao Yong it seems that in the sequence huang-di-wang-ba on every level it would be possible to revolve back to the prior (interim) state, by coinciding of human action as well as outer accidents and fate. But in every case the direct step ba-huang would seem unlikely without reaching the interim states – history does not make jumps. Central questions: 1. What is the correlation between history and cosmology? 2. What is the connection between the end and the (anew) beginning of a historical cycle? 3. What are the factors that can initiate and fulfill such a reversal? 4. Additionally we may ask what an Yijing based order of historical states would be like. A tentative concluding thesis may be that by recognizing historical patterns, employing cosmological states and processes of the actual world with respect to the powers of fate and chance as well as human actions there might be a chance to get a glimpse or even insight into the future – an attempt with which in history Shao Yong was always connected.

Chinese Translation of Logic in Minglitan
Jungsam Yum, , South Korea

I will introduce the book 名理探minglitan, 'The investigation of the theory of names', a seventeenth-century translation of Aristotle's Categories into Chinese. The original text is Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis e Societate Jesv : In Vniversam Dialecticam Aristotelis Stagiritae Nune Primum in Germania in lucem editi. (Coloniae Agrippinae, Apud Bernardvm Gualterivm, 1611.), which was translated into 名理探minglitan by Chinese scholar 李之藻Lizhizao(1564-1630) and Portugal Jesuit Francois Furtado, whose Chinese name is 傅汎際Fufanji(1587-1653). Since the translators intended to convince Chinese people of dialectic's importance in the general scheme of Western sciences, they tried to establish that logic plays a unique role as an instrumental art. That's why they chose the logical text like Categories. 辨藝bianyi, the term translated as a logica in minglitan, however, has a significant confusion between rhetorical terms and logical terms, because 辨bian, 'means to tell apart, to distinguish, to discriminate', is cognate with 辯bian, which means 'to argue, to dispute'. In this paper I'll focus on the basic introduction of the text, and also discuss about the relation between rhetoric and logic while translating the Western logical text into Chinese one.

The Roles of Inborn Nature in Xunzi’s Moral Philosophy
Chaehyun Chong, Sogang University, South Korea

In Xunzi’s philosophy, both inborn nature and conscious activity have been taken to be such co-relative concepts as Heaven and Earth or Yin and Yang etc. So it is said, “If there were no inborn nature, there would be nothing for conscious exertion to improve; if there were no conscious exertion, then inborn nature could not refine itself.”(19.6) Inborn nature, however, is hard to find its place in Xunzi’s moral philosophy because inborn nature does not contain any moral worth for which only conscious activity accounts. If it were the case, we could not meaningfully talk about the morality of inborn nature. In this presentation, I try to enumerate the roles of inborn nature in Xunzi’s moral philosophy so as to make the co-relativity of inborn nature and conscious activity understood. They are as follows: Firstly, human nature is introduced to show that morality is not arbitrary, but objective. Secondly, the fact that morality comes into existence in directing our inborn nature rather than in transcending it means that morality should be grounded in concrete reality. Thirdly, the acknowledgement of inborn nature as indispensible for human perfection shows that human being is not a perfect being, but an imperfect being that can make mistakes in its moral judgment and action.

Fortuitous Metonymy: Takahashi Tomio's Historical Vision and Japanese National History
Nathan Hopson, Nagoya University, Japan

Takahashi Tomio may be the most important historical thinker in postwar Japan to remain almost entirely unknown outside his native land. A philologist and documentary historian with a firm place in the academic establishment, Takahashi focuses on early northern Honshu (Tohoku), from prehistory to the close of the twelfth century. However, his influence is far-reaching, demanding a complete rereading of Tohoku's past in all fields. Takahashi's research on pre-Yamato Tohoku and on the twelfth-century Hiraizumi polity have been particularly important. This paper focuses on an example of the latter, a 1971 biography of Hiraizumi's founder. In this work, Takahashi metonymizes Hiraizumi as the model for postwar Japan. Like contemporary Japan, in Takahashi's narrative Hiraizumi was the phoenix rising from the ashes of devastating war to grand heights of pacifist economic prosperity through an unequal but interpdependent relationship with a superpower. By affirming Japan's America-subordinate capitalist path post-1945, Takahashi's vision is important as a radical break with the postwar Marxist historical mainstream. This paper analyzes Takahashi's work as a critical basis for nascent Tohoku-centric substate nationalism written against the prewar and wartime state, and concludes with an overview of the current state of Tohoku studies, now increasingly bifurcated between archaeology and ethnographic folk studies.

The Zhuangzi on Life and Death: Constructing Meaning out of the Text
Dusan Vavra, Independent Scholar, Czech Republic

The proper human attitude to the fact of death is an important topic recurring in the text of the Zhuangzi. The paper explores the reading strategies implied by the text and tests them on the passages concerning the individual’s proper attitude towards life and death. The paper accords with those recent trends in ancient Chinese textuality scholarship which view the Warring States period texts as composed of short textual units, original social context of which is known fragmentarily. Instead of reconstructing the original context, or looking for coherent patterns within the Zhuangzi itself, the paper reads the textual units as specific instantations of (cosmological) theories shared across the field of Warring States philosophical discourse. It is argued that the implied reading of a textual unit within the Zhuangzi is informed by ideas beyond the unit‘s immediate content and context. When applying this reading to the life and death passages, one theoretical concept appears to be of primary importance – the opposition of the Dao and the tangible world, the former being the position of power utilizable by human beings. It is argued that the differing concepts of life and death are equally informed by this universal theory. They represent diverse ways how to conduct one’s life properly; the power to act properly, however, is presented as derived from the same cosmological framework. Finally, the paper argues that during the process of transmission the textual units were rearranged in a new social context. This context is shared with other texts known as „philosophical works“ – that of human perfection based on realization of cosmic powers within oneself (with political implications). The textual units were reset within the framework of intertextual cosmological theory, which redirected their implied reading without deleting their original content.