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Reviews 219© 1994 by University ofHawai'i Press hensive definition ofHuang-Lao thought and presents an invaluable analytical framework with which to consider ancient Chinese law. The work will surely stimulate much fruitful discussion among scholars ofHuang-Lao studies and students ofclassical Chinese philosophy and law as well. Sarah A. Queen Connecticut College Lisa Raphals. Knowing Words: Wisdom and Cunning in the Classical Traditions ofChina and Greece. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1992. xviii, 273 pp. Hardcover $42. This book is about a mode ofintelligence or way ofknowing that is easier to recognize than to talk about—a mode ofknowing thatfalls into the lacuna between the kinds ofknowledge weformally acknowledge and those we recognize in socialpractice and everyday language. Western interpretations of Chinese philosophy have been dominated by a translator paradigm. Translators frame the central problem as finding the right word or phrase for a Chinese character or string of characters. The paradigm tempts us to treat concepts as distinct when the translating language has distinct words for them, and as one when the translating language has only one. All translators 'know' to render the Chinese character ^W zhi as 'know'. If, however, the English word conceals several distinct concepts, the paradigm flounders. Gilbert RyIe argued for a distinction between knowing-how, knowing-about and knowing-that.1 A simple translation does not tell us which concept to identify with zhi know. One way to correct for a translator's assumption that Chinese terms mirror English conceptual structure comes when scholars work with other languages which mark distinctions differently. Raphals focuses on the Greek distinction between episteme and metis. Metis "embraces a set of skills and mental attitudes that range from wisdom, forethought, keen attention, and resourcefulness to subtle indirection, craft, deception, and cunning. It relies on skill, strategy, and a general knack for handling whatever comes along." She argues that metic intelligence, as opposed to speculative or theoretical wisdom, is the more central notion in Chinese intellectual culture. The book is divided into two parts separated by an interlude. The first deals centrally with classical pre-Han philosophy and the second with Ming novels. The 220 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 philosophy section discusses the concept of zhi know in classical Confucianism, Mohism, and Daoism. She then turns to the military strategies in the Sunzi bingfa and the political ones in the Zhanguo ce. The second part looks at the treatment ofzhi know in two Ming novels—the Romance ofThree Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi) and Journey to the West. (Xiyouji). Raphal's text is densely packed and rich in detail . I here venture tenuously to summarize the picture that emerges. Then I raise some problems and issues posed by her study. My preview may give away the ending, but the plot is rich and winding and I urge readers to consult the entire text, which is well worth their attention. In the philosophical section, Raphals surveys the various ways Chinese thinkers created the oppositions that shaped their conceptions of metis. The Confucian view of zhi knowled8e is ofa practical, political skill. Knowing is knowing-what-to-do politically. Knowledge is, hence, a moral virtue subordinated but complementary to iZ ren humani"' and to ? xue learnine (oftradition—especially ofthe Ü Ii ritual). Discursive knowledge is subsumed under practical knowledge—knowing how to use words and language. Confucius' stress on rectifying names best illustrates the application of this political cognitive conception to language. Confucius characterizes use oflanguage as 'clever' mainly when it is morally suspect. Thus, he disparages unprincipled skill especially at language—glibness. Confucius' reaction illustrates an important point in Raphals' analysis. Metis is not merely knowing-how. We could explicate normal philosophical and ethical concerns in terms ofknowing-how. Metis is knowing-how considered apartfrom whether its employment is good or bad. This conception of metis, she thus argues, is hard to express nonpejoratively in philosophical discourse. This suggests that the idea of metis may arise from different oppositions in Greece and China. Greek thinkers oppose it to theoretical wisdom (which includes ethics) and stress skill in execution. In China, since the normal view of ethics is as a skill, Confucians place metis in direct opposition...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 219-228
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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