- Dukhovnaya kul’tura Kitaya: Entsiklopediyaby Institut Dal’nego Vostoka RAN
Dukhovnaya kul’tura Kitaya: Entsiklopediya(The spiritual culture of China: An encyclopedia) is a project that took Russian sinologists about fifteen years to complete—a decade of preparation followed by five years of publishing. Contained in six volumes, the Encyclopediaextends over no less than 5,500 pages. It covers different [End Page 822]aspects of Chinese spiritual culture with an emphasis on their mutual interconnections and influences. Each volume is thematic: volume 1, Filosofiya(Philosophy) (2006); volume 2, Mifologiya, Religiya(Mythology, religion) (2007); volume 3, Literatura, Yazyk i pis’mennost’(Literature, language, and writing) (2008); volume 4, Istoricheskaya mysl’, Politicheskaya i pravovaya kul’tura(Historical thought, political and legal culture) (2009); volume 5, Nauka, tekhnicheskaya i voennaya mysl’, zdravookhraneniye i obrazovaniye(Science, technical and military thought, medicine, and education) (2009); and volume 6, Iskusstvo(Arts) (2010).
All the volumes have a similar internal structure of three parts. Each volume begins with an introduction on general problems and a historical outline of its specific theme. The second part presents dictionary articles arranged in alphabetic order introducing key terminology, schools, trends, persons, and texts. At the end there is a reference section with indexes to the volume (there are separate indexes for personal names, book titles, and Chinese terms and names of schools), a selected Russian bibliography, and various maps and chronological tables of Chinese history. To illustrate the quantitative weight given to each part we can take as an example volume 1, Philosophy, in which the general section takes up about one hundred pages (pp. 44–148), followed by the dictionary part with about 350 articles that run for five hundred pages (pp. 150–652), and the part with the indexes and references (pp. 654–720).
It is not by chance that the Encyclopediastarts off with Chinese philosophy. The editor in chief, Mikhail Titarenko, and two deputy editors, Artem Kobzev and Anatoliy Luk’yanov, are all scholars of the Chinese classical philosophical tradition. They share the intellectual conviction that Chinese philosophy is of paramount significance for all other aspects of Chinese spiritual civilization. The sequence of volumes therefore reflects the logic of the interpretation of the material. The Encyclopedia, it should be added, has also greatly benefited from the earlier experience of working on the Chinese Philosophydictionary that was published in Russian in 1994. Consequently, the philosophy part of the present work was also the most ready to start with.
The Philosophyvolume opens with a general section introducing the genesis of Chinese philosophy and its specifics. A. Kobzev, for instance, observes that the belles lettres form that had prevailed in Chinese philosophy makes it comparable with Russian philosophy (vol. 1, p. 47). Significant attention is given to methodology and the uniqueness of Chinese philosophy when compared with Western notions of logic. Key importance is attached to the clarification of the meaning of dominant categories of Chinese thought, and this section is also provided with a table of one hundred categories of Chinese philosophy sorted by pairs of correlation. As for the main features of classical Chinese philosophy, the introduction points to the predominance of naturalism, the lack of developed idealist theories, the absence of formal logic, and the symbolic multiplicity of meanings in terminology. Chinese philosophy is described as a “super-ethics,” which means not only that ethical problems are of supreme importance but also that there is a tendency to approach the main problems of philosophy from the standpoint of morality by constructing an anthropocentric view of “moral metaphysics” (p. 126). To generalize, it may be said that the “pivotal [End Page 823]role of Confucianism” in Chinese philosophy is mirrored in the contents of this volume by the high proportion of articles about Confucianism, from its ancient beginnings to Neo-Confucianism and...