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.


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pp. 196-226
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