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A Rejoinder to Hsu's Comments

A Rejoinder to Hsu's Comments 20 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.1,2010 Whensomuchisbasedonspeculation,findingthecorrectunderstandingis difficult.Clearly,wehavedifferentperspectives,preferences,andspeculations abouttheDaodejing. Anoldsystemthatisnolongerinusebytheexpertsinadisciplineisadated system.ExpertsareincreasinglyusingpinyintoromanizeChinesecharacters insteadoftheLatinizednames"Confucius"and"Mencius."Inmyopinion,weno longerneedtouseLatin-soundingnamesforpre-Qinphilosophers. Inpartmyreviewwasanattempttostresstheimportanceofmeaning what you sayandsaying what you mean.IfHsuwantstosaythatthephysicalshapeof Chinesecharactersdoesnotchangeaccordingtogrammaticalrelationships,then heshouldsaythephysicalshapedoesnotchange.AChinesecharacterismore thanaphysicalshape;ithaspronunciations,syntax,meanings,andothercharacteristicsthatmay,anddo,change. Contextiseverything.InmodernChinese,xiaoxin means"tobecareful."Ina classicalmedicaltext,itcouldliterallyrefertoa"smallheartorgan."Whatis consideredlogicalalsodependsonthecontext.InaEuro-Americansystemof order,beginningwiththesourceandthenmovingtotheexpressionmakessense. I proposedthatinthepre-Qin,Qin,andHancontextsonewouldbeginwiththe expressionormanifestationandworkone'swaybacktothesource. Frommyperspective,readersofpre-Qinphilosophymustfirstbefreedofthe Westernmetaphysicalbaggageoftheeternalandtheabsoluteinorderto understandandexperiencedao asanultimatereality. Whenthetranslationandtheemendationsderivedfromvariantreadingsall spininthesamecircleandarebasedonthesameassumptions,thenalackof critical,opposingperspectivesresults,inmyopinion. Thediscussionofbeingandnonbeing,orratherhavingandnothaving,was presentedtodisplayanalternativeperspective.Beingandnonbeingarethenature ofreality,dependingonthemetaphysicaltheoryatwork.IftheDaodejing asa wholeisphilosophicalpoetry,toarguethatoneverseispoeticandanotheris philosophicalwhen,infact,botharephilosophicalpoetryseemsstrangetome. MaybeHsuisproposingamatterofdegree?Someversesaremorephilosophical andsomearemorepoetic? Becauseziran isatechnicaltermthatappearstobecoinedfortheDaodejing, itsmeaningshouldbetechnicalandhavelesscontextualvariation. Concerningweight,theantonymsare"heavy"and"light"intheDaodejing. "Weight"isarelativetermthatcoversaspectrumfromheavytolightweight.The textsaysthat"Beingheavyistherootofbeinglight."Thecontrastisbetweenthe heavyandthelight.Itisnotthecasethat"gravity"or"weightingeneral"isthe rootofbeinglightweight.Itisthespecificheavyweightthatgroundsthe lightweight. © 2011 by University of Hawai`i Press Responses&Replies 21 Thatwecanagreetodisagreeisgood.IntheDaodejing thereisadepthof ambiguityandpoeticlicensethatleadstomuchspeculationinbothHsu's translationandmyreview.Ifothersdidnotlaughatit,itwouldnotbetheway (Poem41). JamesD.Sellmann http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

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Abstract

20 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.1,2010 Whensomuchisbasedonspeculation,findingthecorrectunderstandingis difficult.Clearly,wehavedifferentperspectives,preferences,andspeculations abouttheDaodejing. Anoldsystemthatisnolongerinusebytheexpertsinadisciplineisadated system.ExpertsareincreasinglyusingpinyintoromanizeChinesecharacters insteadoftheLatinizednames"Confucius"and"Mencius."Inmyopinion,weno longerneedtouseLatin-soundingnamesforpre-Qinphilosophers. Inpartmyreviewwasanattempttostresstheimportanceofmeaning what you sayandsaying what you mean.IfHsuwantstosaythatthephysicalshapeof Chinesecharactersdoesnotchangeaccordingtogrammaticalrelationships,then heshouldsaythephysicalshapedoesnotchange.AChinesecharacterismore thanaphysicalshape;ithaspronunciations,syntax,meanings,andothercharacteristicsthatmay,anddo,change. Contextiseverything.InmodernChinese,xiaoxin means"tobecareful."Ina classicalmedicaltext,itcouldliterallyrefertoa"smallheartorgan."Whatis consideredlogicalalsodependsonthecontext.InaEuro-Americansystemof order,beginningwiththesourceandthenmovingtotheexpressionmakessense. I proposedthatinthepre-Qin,Qin,andHancontextsonewouldbeginwiththe expressionormanifestationandworkone'swaybacktothesource. Frommyperspective,readersofpre-Qinphilosophymustfirstbefreedofthe Westernmetaphysicalbaggageoftheeternalandtheabsoluteinorderto understandandexperiencedao asanultimatereality. Whenthetranslationandtheemendationsderivedfromvariantreadingsall spininthesamecircleandarebasedonthesameassumptions,thenalackof critical,opposingperspectivesresults,inmyopinion. Thediscussionofbeingandnonbeing,orratherhavingandnothaving,was presentedtodisplayanalternativeperspective.Beingandnonbeingarethenature ofreality,dependingonthemetaphysicaltheoryatwork.IftheDaodejing asa wholeisphilosophicalpoetry,toarguethatoneverseispoeticandanotheris philosophicalwhen,infact,botharephilosophicalpoetryseemsstrangetome. MaybeHsuisproposingamatterofdegree?Someversesaremorephilosophical andsomearemorepoetic? Becauseziran isatechnicaltermthatappearstobecoinedfortheDaodejing, itsmeaningshouldbetechnicalandhavelesscontextualvariation. Concerningweight,theantonymsare"heavy"and"light"intheDaodejing. "Weight"isarelativetermthatcoversaspectrumfromheavytolightweight.The textsaysthat"Beingheavyistherootofbeinglight."Thecontrastisbetweenthe heavyandthelight.Itisnotthecasethat"gravity"or"weightingeneral"isthe rootofbeinglightweight.Itisthespecificheavyweightthatgroundsthe lightweight. © 2011 by University of Hawai`i Press Responses&Replies 21 Thatwecanagreetodisagreeisgood.IntheDaodejing thereisadepthof ambiguityandpoeticlicensethatleadstomuchspeculationinbothHsu's translationandmyreview.Ifothersdidnotlaughatit,itwouldnotbetheway (Poem41). JamesD.Sellmann

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Mar 1, 2010

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