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154 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 bridge building is an art form. In chapter 4 the reader finds the description and illustration of some of China's most famous gardens, but the focus is die bridge in the garden. This new view leads to die examination of smaller details of Chinese bridges in chapter 5—animal and plant motifs and wooden elaboration by carpenters. In the last chapter, Knapp explains how the Chinese bridge was brought into the modern age through the use of steel and cement and by learning from Western technology how to build so diat convoys of trucks could safely cross some of China's longest waterways. Although in a few ways Knapp tries to relate the engineering technology of the second half of die twentieth century to the past, in fact the bridges seem to indicate a break with past techniques and traditions. In the final pages, technical terms are defined in English and a glossary of Chinese terms is provided. Few Sinologists might be willing to undertake the explication of such a broad and technical subject as die Chinese bridge in such a concise format as the Images ofAsia series. Ronald Knapp has taken on diis challenge with great success. His book offers a clear and accurate summary of the subject for the general reader, but specialists in Chinese studies will learn from it also. Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt University of Pennsylvania Some Issues in the Study ofChinese Mysticism: A Review Essay Livia Kohn. Early Chinese Mysticism: Philosophy and Soteriology in the Taoist Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. ix, 218 pp. Hardcover $45.00. Paperback $14.95. Pioneering works of scholarship not only break new ground on a specific topic, they open up new vistas of understanding that enable us to see familiar phenomena in ways not previously envisioned.1 In so doing diey often take considerable intellectual risks and inevitably cannot avoid certain errors of omission and commission . But ifno one takes these risks, knowledge is simply not advanced. Such is die case with Livia Kohn's book, Early Chinese Mysticism: Philosophy Y r Y and Soteriology in the Taoist Tradition, which is die first sustained effort to provide an overview of Taoist mysticism and to apply die hypotheses derived from the comparative study ofmystical experience to China. As a pioneering work it initiates an important new way to examine the Taoist tradition and, although I ofHawai'i Press Reviews 155 shall devote much ofthis review article to criticizing certain interpretative and methodological problems that I see in this study, I want to make clear my admiration for the many contributions made by Kohn, not the least ofwhich is having broken the ground that enables such critical reflections to take place. Let me begin with some of the strengths ofthis work. Perhaps the most significant contribution ofKohn's study is die implicit hypothesis —undoubtedly controversial to many Sinologists and comparative philosophers —that the traditionally accepted foundational texts ofTaoism, die Laozi and die Zhuangzi, as well as many odier early Taoist works, contain philosophies directly derived from the experience ofpracticing mystics. Failure to take this hypothesis seriously has, in my opinion, led many Asian and Western scholars to fail to comprehend die full range ofthe Taoist religious experience and the extent to which it provides the basis for Taoist philosophy, going back to the very origins ofthe tradition. It has, furthermore, contributed to the continued fostering of the paradigm of a fundamental split between two aspects of Taoism, "philosophical " and "religious," which recent scholarship has seriously challenged.2 Kohn takes diis hypothesis for the obvious given that it is; rather than present it and defend it, she simply devotes most of die book to a presentation of the Taoist mystical philosophy that derives from mystical experience and never assumes that there could be any other source for it. Another of the strengths of Kohn's book is that her attempt to apply certain of the methodologies for the comparative study ofmystical experience to China has brought Chinese mysticism into a more extensive dialogue with die mystical traditions ofthe Indo-European cultures upon which most ofthe prior studies of mysticism have focused...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 154-173
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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