In this rare firsthand account of an individual's pursuit of sagehood, the early Ming dynasty scholar and teacher Wu Yubi chronicles his progress and his setbacks, as he strives to integrate the Neo-Confucian practices of self-examination and self-cultivation into everyday life. In more than three hundred entries, spanning much of his adult life, Wu paints a vivid picture, not only of the life of the mind, but also of the life of a teacher of modest means, struggling to make ends (...) meet in a rural community. This volume features M. Theresa Kelleher's superb translation of Wu's journal, along with translations of more than a dozen letters from his personal correspondence. A general Introduction discusses Neo-Confucianism and the Ming dynasty, and includes biographical information that puts the main work in context. A substantial commentary on the journal discusses the obstacles and supports Wu encounters in pursuit of his goal, the conflict between discipline and restraint of the self and the nurturing and expanding of the self, Wu's successes and failures, and Wu’s role as a teacher. Also included are a map of the Ming dynasty, a pronunciation guide, a chronology of Chinese dynasties, a glossary of names, a glossary of book titles, and suggestions for further reading. (shrink)
Signic knowledge is a crucial link without which the sign as a phenomenon tumbles to the ground. This topic, however, can hardly be incorporated by any existing theory of semiotics. Under the framework of “the theory of intentional sign,” signic knowledge can find its proper niche as an element of the “context” of a sign process. This niche furnishes a good basis on which to investigate the various aspects of signic knowledge, like its role, nature, origin, and life. Signic knowledge (...) can also be automatized or externalized, whose end results tend to create delusions that obscure the nature of the sign and lead semiotics astray. (shrink)
The main purpose of this paper is to bring out some significant humanistic characteristics of Chinese religious thought. My account is limited to what is originally and typically Chinese. That is to say, it will exclude what has been influenced by Buddhism from India or Christianity from the Western world. Some of the theses of this paper are based on scholarly works, while others are drawn from the author's primary experience.
This book presents a systematic account of the role of the personal spiritual ideal of wu-wei--literally "no doing," but better rendered as "effortless action"--in early Chinese thought. Edward Slingerland's analysis shows that wu-wei represents the most general of a set of conceptual metaphors having to do with a state of effortless ease and unself-consciousness. This concept of effortlessness, he contends, serves as a common ideal for both Daoist and Confucian thinkers. He also argues that this concept contains within itself a (...) conceptual tension that motivates the development of early Chinese thought: the so-called "paradox of wu-wei," or the question of how one can consciously "try not to try." Methodologically, this book represents a preliminary attempt to apply the contemporary theory of conceptual metaphor to the study of early Chinese thought. Although the focus is upon early China, both the subject matter and methodology have wider implications. The subject of wu-wei is relevant to anyone interested in later East Asian religious thought or in the so-called "virtue-ethics" tradition in the West. Moreover, the technique of conceptual metaphor analysis--along with the principle of "embodied realism" upon which it is based--provides an exciting new theoretical framework and methodological tool for the study of comparative thought, comparative religion, intellectual history, and even the humanities in general. Part of the purpose of this work is thus to help introduce scholars in the humanities and social sciences to this methodology, and provide an example of how it may be applied to a particular sub-field. (shrink)
John Searle’s “thesis of the Background” is an attempt to articulate the role of nonintentional capacities---know-how, skills, and abilities---in constituting intentional phenomena. This essay applies Searle’s notion of the Background to shed light on the Daoist notion of w’u-w’ei---“non-action” or non-intentional action---and to help clarify the sort of activity that might originally have inspired the w’u-w’ei ideal. I draw on Searle’s work and the original Chinese sources to develop a defensible conception of a w’u-w’ei-like state that may play an intrinsically (...) and instrumentally valuable role in the exercise of agency. At the same time, however, I argue that Searle’s view that “Intentionality rises to the level of the Background abilities” convincingly explains why the conception of w’u-w’ei presented in ancient texts is untenable. W’u-w’ei-like states can generally occur only as components of an intentional flow of activity, and thus they are not fundamentally nonintentional. (shrink)