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Reviews 237 NOTES1· Benjamin Schwartz, The World ofThought in Ancient China (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. 67-85. 2. Translation adapted from D. C. Lau, trans., Confucius: The Analects (Penguin, 1979). $ <§? Henry Rosemont, Jr., editor. Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts: Essays Dedicated to Angus C. Graham. Critics and Their Critics Series, vol. 1. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1991. xviii, 334 pp. Hardcover $49.95, Paperback $22.95. Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts is a fascinating and at times even moving book, valuable both for its scholarship and as a chronicle of the current debates surrounding the study of Chinese thought. It is the first volume in Open Court's "Critics and Their Critics" series, which collects essays on the work of an eminent scholar accompanied by the responses of the honorée. Graham, who died shordy after the publication of this book, was a man whose immense talents were complemented by a wide array of interests, which resulted in groundbreaking work in several related areas and some unrelated ones, as well. His doctoral dissertation on the Cheng brothers, published in 1958 as Two Chinese Philosophers (and republished under the same name by Open Court Press in 1992), is still one of the best books available on Neo-Confucian philosophy. Graham wrote highly specialized articles on technical aspects of ancient Chinese language and literature in addition to translating two volumes of poetry. His work on Mencius' notion of xing, "nature," and the logic of the later Mohists not only shed light on previously poorly understood subjects but also set new standards for scholarship on Chinese thought. As his career progressed, Graham became particularly interested in the fourth century b.c. philosopher Zhuangzi, on whom he was the undisputed authority in Western languages, and later still in the purely philosophical problems of rationality and value. In 1985 he published Reason and Spontaneity (Barnes & Noble), in which he attempted to ground value judgments in spontaneous inclinations , the best judgments coming when people are most completely aware of their situations. With such a diverse set of issues to address, it is not surprising that the essays© 1994 by University composing this volume should be somewhat scattered. They converge on the ofHawai'i Presswork of Professor Graham, as editor Henry Rosemont notes in his introduction (p. xi). But since Graham is no longer among the readers, there will probably be few others who have the background necessary even to understand, much less to 238 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 appreciate fully, what all the essays collected here have to say: some, like Edwin Pulleyblank's "Some Notes on Morphology and Syntax in Classical Chinese," require a sophisticated understanding oflinguistics while others, like Rosemont's "Who Chooses?" presuppose more than a passing familiarity with contemporary moral and political thought. The book is divided into three convenient sections, however, starting with grammar and philology, moving on to historical and interpretative issues, and culminating in the philosophical questions concerning reason and value. Graham tends in the first two sections to outshine the contributors to his volume , his responses lifting the discussion from technical details to more general reflections on the methods and goals of studying a people as remote from ourselves as the ancient Chinese. The opening essay by D. C. Lau deals with the phrase zai you, which is the title of the eleventh chapter of the Zhuangzi and may also occur in a corrupted form in the second. Graham translates the phrase as "keeping in place and within bounds" and identifies it as a doctrine central to what he describes as the "Primitivist" contribution to the Zhuangzi. Lau amasses examples of the occurrence of the same or variant characters in surrounding texts, on the basis ofwhich he proposes a different translation and a subsequent revision of the nature and lineage of the Primitivist position. In his response, Graham argues effectively for the inadequacy of a purely textual analysis of this sort. As important as textual analysis is, no examination of the characters alone can ever tell us what those characters mean or how they got there unless it is supplemented by philosophical and historical reflection. Graham's response to Lau does more than just collect the insights ofdifferent disciplines; it demonstrates the interdependence of those disciplines and the need to combine all of them in order to master any. In his essay on the mass noun hypothesis, Christoph Harbsmeier turns his attention to the idea, first presented by Chad Hansen, that Chinese nouns function as mass nouns like "water" or "fury," which need to be accompanied by sortais like "a pailful" or "a burst of" as opposed to count nouns like "chair" or "groan" that come, as it were, already in prepackaged units. Harbsmeier marshals impressive linguistic evidence demonstrating that Chinese nouns are in fact better understood as falling into three categories: count, mass, and generic. In his response, Graham generally concurs with Harbsmeier's analysis and then goes on, in the offhand style that was so characteristic of him, to derive a penetrating and illuminating insight from this seemingly inert linguistic fact: That horses and chariots will be counted in only one way goes without saying irrespective of one's language, but it does seem that Classical Chinese, because it does not assimilate all nouns to count nouns by number terminations, escapes our tendency to assimilate things in general to the organisms and artifacts which stand out from their surroundings as discrete individuals, (p. 276) Reviews 239 Unlike most European languages, the grammar ofClassical Chinese does not suggest or substantiate the notion ofa world already full ofthings just waiting to be named, a presupposition which is not only pervasive in the history ofWestern thought but difficult to excise even in the present. Subtle observations like this, which not only transform our understanding ofwhat is going on in a place like ancient China but in the process add new depth to our understanding ofourselves , are the raison d'être of comparative philosophy and one of the pleasures of this volume. Graham shines similarly in his response to Hansen's own essay, titled "Should the Ancient Masters Value Reason?" Hansen describes reasoning as the process of drawing conclusions from given premises: axioms, definitions, or some description of the facts. Chinese philosophers, he argues, were concerned with the problem ofhow to divide the world up into things and classes, that is, with establishing the proper way to describe the facts. Since logical analysis of the facts can start only after some description of the facts is established, Hansen concludes that reason was of only limited use to the ancient Chinese. Graham points out that Hansen's claim is surely too strong if it is taken to mean that Chinese thinkers worry only about classifying terms and European thinkers worry only about analyzing them: Hansen manoeuvres himself into a position of making the Chinese preoccupation with dividing and naming the Chinese alternative to the Western with establishing truth by reason. He then continues: It seems to me to be crucial to maintain the distinction between the structures of thinking, which may be presumed to be transcultural (2 and 2 make 4 wherever you are), and its varying conceptualizations in different cultures, (pp. 292293 ) This is an important point that does a great deal to clarify what exactly it is that comparative philosophy does. We must assume that others, whether they be the ancient Chinese or our next-door neighbors, think similarly enough to ourselves at least so that we can come to understand them; if their thinking were entirely different, we would not only be unable to understand them at first but would have no hope of understanding them ever. The object of a study like this, then, is not the fundamentally different ways that people think but rather the relatively different ways that people think about thinking, the different styles of reasoning they employ, and the various advantages and limitations these different styles confer. But while it is necessary to posit a transcultural activity ofthinking in general, it is equally necessary to avoid confusing this broad category with our own provincial variation of it. One of the purposes of comparative philosophy, therefore, is to distinguish between who we are as inheritors ofparticular traditions and who we are simply as human beings. 240 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 The text ofthe Zhuangziwas edited into its present form by the fourth-century commentator Guo Xiang, who is known to have started with a fifty-two chapter version, which he condensed down into the present thirty-three. Harold Roth's article "Who Compiled the Chuang TzuV is an attempt to locate the origin of the original fifty-two chapter version. Taking excellent advantage of work done by Ma Xulun and Wang Shumin, Roth locates several incompatibilities in the text as it stands, passages that are juxtaposed but that represent such radically different agendas that they can only be explained by diversity of authorship. He argues that these incompatibilities were already present in the text received by Guo Xiang but that they must postdate the second century b.c. editor identified by Graham as the "Syncretist," whose programmatic approach would not allow for such inconsistencies . Roth argues effectively for the conclusion that there is a third hand in the text between the Syncretist and Guo Xiang, although he is able to amass only speculative and circumstantial evidence for his identification of this hand as belonging to an eclectic at the court of Huai Nan around 130 b.c. Roger Ames argues that xing, "nature," in Mencius should be understood as a goal to be achieved rather than as "a psychobiological starting point" (p. 143). What people are born with, he argues, taking his cue from Tang Junyi, "is simply the propensity for growth, cultivation, and refinement" (p. 152). "For Mencius," he continues, "the human being emerges in the world as a spontaneously arising and ever changing matrix of relationships through which, over a lifetime, his xing is defined" (p. 155, emphasis added). Animals have fairly little control over their characters, and plants have even less; what is different about people, according to Ames, is that we make ourselves who we are. Thus the "emergence" he describes is not the physical process of birth but the cultural and social process of becoming a person in the peculiarly human sense, that is, a distinct individual, occupying a unique place in the community in relation to others. If this is what it means to be human, then human nature is not something we start with but something we work toward. But while Ames makes a strong case that we ought to think of human nature in these terms, his argument that Mencius did so is inconclusive; if, as Ames suggests, human nature is what we make of it, then it is hard to see how Mencius could base any normative claims on it, which he clearly did. Indeed, the claim that "(t)he 'good' is not the actualization of some given potential, but the consequential optimization of the conditions defining of a particular thing over its history" sounds more like Zhuangzi than Mencius. Whether one is persuaded by the argument or not, however, Ames' essay sparks reflection on the unconscious conceptual translations we all make even when reading texts in the original. It is with David Nivison's essay "Hsun Tzu and Chuang Tzu" that the volume really begins to pick up speed. Nivison is another elder in the field of Chinese thought and will be the honorée of the third volume in this series. (Another contributor , Herbert Fingarette was honored with the second.) A distinctive and im- Reviews 241 portant feature ofboth Nivison's and Graham's interpretative method has been to focus attention notjust on isolated thinkers but on the influences and antagonisms between them. In this essay, Nivison speculates on the possible relation between Graham's own favorite thinker, Zhuangzi, and the third member ofthe early Confucian triumvirate, Xunzi, a thinker largely ignored in the past but apparently destined for greater attention in the future. Although Nivison's analysis of Zhuangzi is sketchy at points—it is not obvious either that Zhuangzi counseled a "literal withdrawal from the world" (p. 135) or that he aimed at "ataraxia as a supreme personal religious goal" (p. 136)—his account is generally in keeping with Graham's own interpretation ofZhuangzi as advocating the course ofaction along which one would be spontaneously moved in a state of impartial awareness. Nivison turns the tables, however, by arguing that Xunzi uses just such an approach to arrive at his own brand of Confucianism and that, if Zhuangzi had applied his own method scrupulously enough, he, too, "would have thought his way to the Confucian Tao" (p. 139). Graham's response to Nivison's good humored but ruthless thrust at his favorite thinker is brief, but is essential in understanding what goes on in the rest of the volume. He states, though without argument, first, that it simply is not true that an unprejudiced person who was aware of the situation would be moved toward Confucianism, and, second, that even if Xunzi were so moved, this is no guarantee that others would be, as well (p. 286). Graham does not elaborate on these points here. But it is taken for granted for the remainder of the volume that people's spontaneous inclinations from the standpoint of impartial awareness fail to confirm the status of the kinds of cultural commitments that are central to Confucianism. Pace Nivison, it is the ¿«compatibility of Zhuangzi and Xunzi that occasions the debate that closes the volume. Graham spent much of his later career defending the idea that what one ought to do is what one would be spontaneously moved to do from a standpoint of complete awareness. In "Reason, Spontaneity, and the Li" Herbert Fingarette questions whether awareness, or at least the right kind of awareness, is possible without presupposing certain social and cultural commitments represented by the Confucian Ii. Fingarette agrees with Graham in rejecting Nivison's assumption that cultural values are rules of thumb that an impartial and open-minded survey of the facts would prompt us to adopt spontaneously anyway. Someone who has made a promise to a friend, on Fingarette's view, would not necessarily be inclined simply on the basis of an impartial awareness of the situation to keep the promise if it were to her advantage not to do so; rather, her disinclination, if she felt any, would be premised on her prior commitment, not necessarily conscious or deliberate, to the value of fidelity. "(W)e learn and practice the Ii of our culture not because we find it to be right, but by virtue of its defining for us what we are to value as right" (p. 218). Certain things are bad for us because we have learned 242 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 to think of them as bad. We can be aware of their badness only after enculturation . Culture, therefore, has a logical priority over awareness. In the final essay, "Who Chooses?" Henry Rosemont sharpens this critique of Graham's notion of awareness. Graham himself acknowledges that complete awareness of everything is impossible; so he qualifies his position as calling for awareness only of the relevant facts, that is, those facts that would effect one's spontaneous inclinations. But, as Rosemont argues, the facts that are relevant to me vary depending on how I conceive of myself. Different things will matter to me, for instance, if I think of myself primarily as a member of a certain ethnic group or social class, as an isolated individual or as a human being, as someone with a whole life ahead of me or someone just struggling to get through this afternoon . The ways in which I can think of myself are infinite. Nor can one determine one's identity by an appeal to the relevant facts, since one cannot decide which facts are relevant until one has determined one's identity. It is our community that tells us who we are, according to Rosemont, confirming Fingarette's conclusion that awareness is dependent on culture. Both Fingarette and Rosemont doubt the possibility of ever stepping completely outside culture. And they agree further that, even if this were possible, it would not be desirable, since the right kind of awareness or self-conception is dependent on having the rignrkind of culture. This, of course, begs the question of what the right culture is and how much of it one should internalize; nor is there any obvious noncircular solution to this problem. And this is exactly where their disagreement with Graham lies. Fingarette and Rosemont argue from within an internallyjustified set of norms and values which they admit to be cultural products but in which they nonetheless believe; their concern is in understanding, administering , and preserving them. Graham argues from the outside; although he is not hostile to the values Fingarette and Rosemont take for granted, he is concerned with justifying and evaluating them and is always prepared, if necessary, to abandon them. This difference lurks in the background of the debate, and the reader wonders at times whether the writers themselves are fully aware of it. The closest it comes to being out in the open is over the question of whether cultural rules have a force that is logically prior to the spontaneous inclinations of individuals. For Fingarette and Rosemont they must; but Graham denies this is possible. He says: When community breaks up, as it hasfor us, how does one convert one's spontaneous preferences into a code with autonomous authority?. . . Any code they generate can only be a personal one, which at best will contribute to sowing the seeds of true community in thefuture, (p. 307, emphasis added) For Fingarette and Rosemont the community and its rules exist, and the question is how to sustain them. For Graham, on the other hand, the community is past, its rules have lost their force, and the question is how to survive and flourish in Reviews 243 their absence. It is no wonder they disagree over the solution when they have such fundamentally different notions ofwhat the problem is. Whether or not the community exists and whether cultural rules have independent normative force remain open questions at the end of the book and are left to the readers unresolved. The points at which the thinkers in this volume argue past one another are as informative as the points on which they clash. In their conflicting agendas and assumptions, particularly in their collective ambivalence toward traditional culture, readers recognize the forces that have shaped the study of Chinese thought in the West over the last several decades. At the same time, too, they are likely to recognize tensions that motivate and inform their own understanding of these subjects. Readers ofthe "Critics and Their Critics" series see more than just philosophy recorded; they see it happen. Paul Kjellberg Whittier College Harold D. Roth. The Textual History ofthe Huai-nan Tzu. AAS Monograph Series. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. xvi, 470 pp. Hardcover $36, Paperback $20. Required reading for anyone interested in the study of the Huai-nan Tzu, this work will serve as the authoritative historical and textual analysis of the Huai-nan Tzu for years to come. This book will be of interest to students of textual analysis, interpretation, publishing, and history. Roth's work is based on a critical application ofVinton Dearing's theoretical examinations of textual analysis, namely, A Manual ofTextualAnalysis (Berkeley, 1959) and Principles and Practice ofTextual Analysis (Berkeley, 1974). The text we know as the Huai-nan Tzu was one of three works completed under the patronage of Liu An, prince of Huai-nan, and was completed by 139 b.c. The essays were probably written by Liu An and a group of eight scholars. At least one copy, but possibly two copies, of the Huai-nan Tzu were placed in the imperial library before Liu Hsiang collated them in circa 10 b.c. Only two of the four, possibly five, commentaries written in the Han dynasty survived, those of Hsu© 1994 by University shen and Kao Yu. These two commentaries represent the two lines of transmisofHawai ?PresssjQn unti, ^6 fourm cgntuj-^when a recension was made by combining thirteen chapters of the Kao Yu edition with eight chapters from the Hsü Shen edition. The composite recension served as the basis for the three oldest extant redactions ...

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ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 237-243
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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