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Spirit and Self in Medieval China Cover

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Spirit and Self in Medieval China

The Shih-shuo hsin-yu and Its Legacy

Nanxiu Qian

The Shih-shuo hsin-yu, conventionally translated as A New Account of Tales of the World, is one of the most significant works in the entire Chinese literary tradition. It established a genre (the Shih-shuo t'i) and inspired dozens of imitations from the later part of the Tang dynasty (618-907) to the early Republican era of the twentieth century. The Shih-shuo hsin-yu consists of more than a thousand historical anecdotes about elite life in the late Han dynasty and the Wei-Chin period (about A.D. 150-420).

Despite a general recognition of the place of the Shih-shuo hsin-yu in China's literary history (and to a lesser extent that of Japan), the genre itself has never been adequately defined or thoroughly studied. Spirit and Self in Medieval China offers the first thorough study in any language of the origins and evolution of the Shih-shuo t'i based on a comprehensive literary analysis of the Shih-shuo hsin-yu and a systematic documentation and examination of more than thirty imitations. The study also contributes to the growing interest in the Chinese idea of individual identity. By focusing on the Shin-shuo genre, which provides the starting point in China for a systematic literary construction of the self, it demonstrates that, contrary to Western assertions of a timeless Chinese "tradition," an authentic understanding of personhood in China changed continually and often significantly in response to changing historical and cultural circumstances.

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Spirit, Qi, and the Multitude

A Comparative Theology for the Democracy of Creation

Hyo-Dong Lee

We live in an increasingly global, interconnected, and interdependent world, in which various forms of systemic imbalance in power have given birth to a growing demand for genuine pluralism and democracy. As befits a world so interconnected, this book presents a comparative theological and philosophical attempt to construct new underpinnings for the idea of democracy by bringing the Western concept of spirit into dialogue with the East Asian nondualistic and nonhierarchical notion of qi. The book follows the historical adventures of the idea of qi through some of its Confucian and Daoist textual histories in East Asia, mainly Laozi, Zhu Xi, Toegye, Nongmun, and Su-un, and compares them with analogous conceptualizations of the ultimate creative and spiritual power found in the intellectual constellations of Western and/or Christian thought namely, Whitehead's Creativity, Hegel's Geist, Deleuze's chaosmos, and Catherine Keller's Tehom. The book adds to the growing body of pneumatocentric (Spirit-centered), panentheistic Christian theologies that emphasize God's liberating, equalizing, and pluralizing immanence in the cosmos. Furthermore, it injects into the theological and philosophical dialogue between the West and Confucian and Daoist East Asia, which has heretofore been dominated by the American pragmatist and process traditions, a fresh voice shaped by Hegelian, postmodern, and postcolonial thought. This enriches the ways in which the pluralistic and democratic implications of the notion of qi may be articulated. In addition, by offering a valuable introduction to some representative Korean thinkers who are largely unknown to Western scholars, the book advances the study of East Asia and Neo-Confucianism in particular. Last but not least, the book provides a model of Asian contextual theology that draws on the religious and philosophical resources of East Asia to offer a vision of pluralism and democracy. A reader interested in the conversation between the East and West in light of the global reality of political oppression, economic exploitation, and cultural marginalization will find this book informative, engaging, and enlightening

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The Structure of Detachment

The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Shuzo

Hiroshi Nara

Published in 1930, when Japan was struggling to define and assert its national and cultural identity, The Structure of Iki (Iki no kôzô) re-introduced the Japanese to a sophisticated tradition of urbane and spirited stylishness (iki) that was forged in the Edo period. Upon his return from Europe, Kuki Shûzô (1888–1941) made use of the new theoretical frameworks based on Western Continental methodology to redefine the significance of iki in Japanese society and culture. By applying Heidegger’s hermeneutics to this cultural phenomenon, he attempted to recast traditional understanding in the context of Western aesthetic theory and reestablish the centrality of a purely Japanese sense of "taste." The three critical essays that accompany this new translation of The Structure of Iki look at various aspects of Kuki, his work, and the historical context that influenced his thinking. Hiroshi Nara first traces Kuki’s interest in a philosophy of life through his exposure to Husserl, Heidegger, and Bergson. In the second essay, J. Thomas Rimer compels readers to reexamine The Structure of Iki as a work in the celebrated tradition of zuihitsu (stream-of-consciousness writings) and takes into account French literary influences on Kuki. The philosopher’s controversial link with Heidegger is explored by Jon Mark Mikkelsen in the final essay.

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Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously

Contemporary Theories and Applications

A consideration of Confucian ethics as a living ethical tradition with contemporary relevance. This thought-provoking work presents Confucianism as a living ethical tradition with contemporary relevance. While acknowledged as one of the world’s most influential philosophies, Confucianism’s significance is too often consigned to a historical or solely East Asian context. Discussing both the strengths and weaknesses of Confucian ethics, the volume’s contributors reflect on what this tradition offers that we cannot readily learn from other systems of ethics. Developing Confucian ethical ideas within a contemporary context, this work discusses the nature of virtue, the distinction between public and private, the value of spontaneity, the place of sympathy in moral judgment, what it means to be humane, how to handle competing values, and the relationship between trust and democracy. For all those concerned with ethics, this book offers both new perspectives and resources for the ongoing consideration of how we should live.

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Taoïsme

Een weg van Oost naar West?

Gerd Van Riel, Bart Raymaekers (eds)

Deze visionaire uitspraak van Napoleon I lijkt actueler dan ooit. China is ‘in'. Niet alleen het numerieke overwicht van de Chinezen in de wereldbevolking, maar vooral de enorme economische expansie en de voorzichtige politieke openheid in China maken dat het Westen ‘plots' de Chinese realiteit heeft ontdekt. Om de Chinezen en hun traditionele leefwijzen beter te doorgronden heeft men ook in toenemende mate belangstelling voor de Chinese cultuur. Het confucianisme, taoïsme en andere bronnen van Oosterse wijsheid worden stilaan ontdaan van de esoterie die er vroeger rond hing in het Westen, en beetje bij beetje wordt de intrinsieke waarde ontdekt van de Oosterse cultuurtradities. Taoïsme, een weg van Oost naar West? wil een bijdrage leveren aan de vruchtbare interactie tussen het Oosterse en het Westerse denken, zonder in simplismen of veralgemeningen te vervallen. Kan ons Westers rationaliteitsbegrip (de logos) worden gehanteerd binnen de context van het taoïsme? Kunnen wij Westerlingen deze Oosterse filosofie verstaan met het begrippenapparaat dat ons eigen is? Na een inleidende reflectie op de interacties tussen Oost en West door Sander Griffioen, gaan de auteurs van deze bundel in op drie grote vragen. Patricia De Martelaere onderzoekt hoe het taoïsme kan worden gevat in de (Westerse) termen van het Goede, het Schone en het Ware. Carine Defoort gaat in op de taoïstische wijsheidsliteratuur en zoekt aanknopingspunten met de Westerse wijsheid. Lloyd Haft, ten slotte, gaat dieper in op de vraag of en hoe het Oosterse begrippenapparaat kan functioneren in de vertaling van het Westerse cultuurgoed. De teksten van Carine Defoort, Patricia De Martelaere en Lloyd Haft zijn herwerkte versies van de lezing die zij presenteerden ter gelegenheid van Studiedag 2007 van het Wijsgerig Gezelschap Leuven.

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Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture

This is the first book-length treatment in English of Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi), often regarded as China’s first great classical novel. Set in the historical period of the disunion (220–280 AD), Three Kingdoms fuses history and popular tradition to create a sweeping epic of heroism and political ambition. The essays in this volume explore the multifarious connections between Three Kingdoms and Chinese culture from a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, philosophy, art history, theater, cultural studies, and communications, demonstrating the diversity of backgrounds against which this novel can be studied. Some of the most memorable episodes and figures in Chinese literature appear within its pages, and Three Kingdoms has had a profound influence on personal, social, and political behavior, even language usage, in the daily life of people in China today. The novel has inspired countless works of theater and art, and, more recently, has been the source for movies and a television series. Long popular in other countries of East Asia, such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, Three Kingdoms has also been introduced to younger generations around the globe through a series of extremely popular computer games. This study helps create a better understanding of the work’s unique place in Chinese culture.

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Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism

Taixu's Reforms

Don Pittman

The Venerable Master Taixu (1890–1947) is the most important and controversial Chinese Buddhist reformer of the twentieth century. Viewed as dangerously rash by conservative Buddhists, irrelevant by secular humanists, and spiritually misguided by Christian missionaries, Taixu was nevertheless committed to forging a socially engaged form of Buddhism and to organizing a Buddhist mission in the West. His bold and inventive "Buddhist revolution" continues to shape aspects of a revitalized Buddhism in East Asia and around the world. The present volume is the first major study in English to focus on the charismatic reformer and his teachings and provides a comprehensive and absorbing interpretation of Taixu’s aims and the divisive controversies that surrounded him. This nuanced work is richly documented with quotations from Taixu’s own writings and from various Chinese intellectuals and evangelists of the period. As the most politically involved of all the Buddhist leaders in the Republican period, Taixu sought to present Mahâyâna Buddhism as the core of a new Chinese culture and the only adequate foundation for a truly global civilization. Distancing himself from those masters who focused on otherworldly paradises and stressed dependence on celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas, he emphasized what could actually be accomplished in this world through the work of thousands of living bodhisattvas dedicated to building a pure land here and now. A realist who acknowledged the complexities of the human condition in an increasingly interdependent and violent world, Taixu was also a utopian who tried to imagine how Buddhists could begin to realize their ultimate ideals—ideals that in fact lay beyond the preservation of institutional Buddhism itself. Students of Buddhism, Chinese religion, contemporary Chinese history and culture, and Taiwan studies will welcome this study of a crucially important and intriguingly complex individual whose life encapsulates many of the forces and possibilities apparent within Chinese Buddhism in the contemporary world.

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Valuing Diversity

Buddhist Reflection on Realizing a More Equitable Global Future

Uses Buddhist philosophy to discuss diversity as a value, one that can contribute to equity in a globalizing world. Diversity matters. Whether in the context of ecosystems, education, the workplace, or politics, diversity is now recognized as a fact and as something to be positively affirmed. But what is the value of diversity? What explains its increasing significance? Valuing Diversity is a groundbreaking response to these questions and to the contemporary global dynamics that make them so salient. Peter D. Hershock examines the changes of the last century to show how the successes of Western-style modernity and industrially-powered markets have, ironically, coupled progressive integration and interdependence with the proliferation of political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental differences. Global predicaments like climate change and persistent wealth inequalities compel recognition that we are in the midst of an era-defining shift from the primacy of the technical to that of the ethical. Yet, neither modern liberalism nor its postmodern critiques have offered the resources needed to address such challenges. Making use of Buddhist and ecological insights, Valuing Diversity develops a qualitatively rich conception of diversity as an emerging value and global relational commons, forwarding an ethics of interdependence and responsive virtuosity that opens prospects for a paradigm shift in our pursuits of equity, freedom, and democratic justice.

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When Tengu Talk

Hirata Atsutane's Ethnography of the Other World

Wilburn Hansen

Hirata Atsutane (1776–1843) has been the subject of numerous studies that focus on his importance to nationalist politics and Japanese intellectual and social history. Although well known as an ideologue of Japanese National Learning (Kokugaku), Atsutane’s significance as a religious thinker has been largely overlooked. His prolific writings on supernatural subjects have never been thoroughly analyzed in English until now. In When Tengu Talk, Wilburn Hansen focuses on Senkyo ibun (1822), a voluminous work centering on Atsutane’s interviews with a fourteen-year-old Edo street urchin named Kozo Torakichi who claimed to be an apprentice tengu, a supernatural creature of Japanese folklore. Hansen uncovers in detail how Atsutane employed a deliberate method of ethnographic inquiry that worked to manipulate and stimulate Torakichi’s surreal descriptions of everyday existence in a supernatural realm, what Atsutane termed the Other World. Hansen’s investigation and analysis of the process begins with the hypothesis that Atsutane’s project was an early attempt at ethnographic research, a new methodological approach in nineteenth-century Japan. Hansen posits that this "scientific" analysis was tainted by Atsutane’s desire to establish a discourse on Japan not limited by what he considered to be the unsatisfactory results of established Japanese philological methods. A rough sketch of the milieu of 1820s Edo Japan and Atsutane’s position within it provides the backdrop against which the drama of Senkyo ibun unfolds. There follow chapters explaining the relationship between the implied author and the outside narrator, the Other World that Atsutane helped Torakichi describe, and Atsutane’s nativist discourse concerning Torakichi’s fantastic claims of a newly discovered Shinto holy man called the sanjin. Sanjin were partly defined by supernatural abilities similar (but ultimately more effective and thus superior) to those of the Buddhist bodhisattva and the Daoist immortal. They were seen as holders of secret and powerful technologies previously thought to have come from or been perfected in the West, such as geography, astronomy, and military technology. Atsutane sought to deemphasize the impact of Western technology by claiming these powers had come from Japan’s Other World. In doing so, he creates a new Shinto hero and, by association, asserts the superiority of native Japanese tradition. In the final portion of his book, Hansen addresses Atsutane’s contribution to the construction of modern Japanese identity. By the late Tokugawa, many intellectuals had grown uncomfortable with continued cultural dependence on Neo-Confucianism, and the Buddhist establishment was under fire from positivist historiographers who had begun to question the many contradictions found in Buddhist texts. With these traditional discourses in disarray and Western rationalism and materialism gaining public acceptance, Hansen depicts Atsutane’s creation of a new spiritual identity for the Japanese people as one creative response to the pressures of modernity. When Tengu Talk adds to the small body of work in English on National Learning. It moreover fills a void in the area of historical religious studies, which is dominated by studies of Buddhist monks and priests, by offering a glimpse of a Shinto religious figure. Finally, it counters the image of Atsutane as a forerunner of the ultra-nationalism that ultimately was deployed in the service of empire. Lucid and accessible, it will find an appreciative audience among scholars of Shinto and Japanese and world religion. In addition to religion specialists, it will be of considerable interest to anthropologists and historians of Japan.

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Xu Bing and Contemporary Chinese Art

Cultural and Philosophical Reflections

Explores how Xu Bing and other contemporary Chinese artists use Western ideas within a Chinese cultural discourse. 'How Chinese is contemporary Chinese art? Treasured by collectors, critics, and art world cognoscenti, this art developed within an avant-garde that looked West to find a language to strike out against government control. Traditionally, Chinese artistic expression has been related to the structure and function of the Chinese language and the assumptions of Chinese natural cosmology. Is contemporary Chinese art rooted in these traditions or is it an example of cultural self-colonization? Contributors to this volume address this question, going beyond the more obvious political and social commentaries on contemporary Chinese art to find resonances between contemporary artistic ideas and the indigenous sources of Chinese cultural self-understanding. Focusing in particular on the acclaimed artist Xu Bing, this book looks at how he and his peers have navigated between two different cultural sites to establish a third place, a place from which to appropriate Western ideas and use them to address centuries-old Chinese cultural issues within a Chinese cultural discourse.

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