Abstract

This essay makes several related claims: (a) that most of the extant texts from early China sharply distinguish le 樂 (secure “pleasure” derived from relational activities in which a repeated investment of time, energy, and imagination generally pays off) from xi 喜 (short-term “delight” in objects, things, and people); (b) that, quite significantly, the antonym for “pleasure” is not “pain” but “insecurity,” which invites a thorough rethinking of a host of Western presumptions and categories; (c) that no word in classical Chinese precisely corresponds to the Anglo-American words “happiness” and “joy,” since “happiness” to no small degree retains its old idea of “favored by fortune,” and “joy” that of disembodied religious ecstasy; (d) that the physiology of pleasure in early China depends far more on resonance theories than on more mechanical constructions of cause-and-effect, and for that reason does not favor asceticism or “purity”; and (e) that the early texts evince little interest in the “isought” question, with the grammatical structures of most of their propositions indicating situational claims rather than universalized abstractions.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 196-226
Launched on MUSE
2015-02-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.