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Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (review)

Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (review) thatgenuinereligiousconvictionsorpietieswerealsoinvolvedintheinitialformulationandensuingdiffusionofChanteachings,whichprimarilytookplacewithinthe contextofmonasticcommunities.TosomeextentWelterisawareoftheseissuesand concerns,andattimesheaddspertinentcaveatsandqualifications.Here,Iambasi--w callyraisingthequestionofappropriatebalanceandperspective hichisapplicabletomuchofrecentAmericanscholarshiponthesubject atherthansuggesting --r seriousinadequacyintheoverallinterpretiveapproachtakenbyWelter. IamafraidIcannotfullyagreewithWelter'sassertionthatthestoryoftheLinji yuluisnotthestoryofLinjitheman,butastoryofthelatermovementthatcreated thetext.Itisboth.ItistruethatLinji'slifeistosomeextentshroudedinmystery -- probably a reflection of the fact that during his lifetime he was a relatively minor figurewithinthebroaderChanmovement utrecentpublications,whichinclude --b twobooksontheHongzhouSchool,havedemonstratedthattherewasmuchmore toTang Chan than is sometimes assumed by someWestern scholars.Accordingly, thisbookwouldhavebenefitediftheauthorhadtakenabitmoreseriouslythelively socioreligiousmilieuofTangChan,inwhichLinjiandthepeoplearoundhimwere activeparticipants,andwhichproducedtheearliestrecordsofhisteachingsinaliteraryformatthatwasprevalentatthetime. Notwithstandingtheaforementionedcaveatsandlimitations,Iwouldliketoend thisreviewbystressingthatthisisaremarkablebookthatshouldberequiredreading forallseriousstudentsofChan/Zenhistoryandliterature.Welter'sstudygoesalong waytowarddispellingentrenchedmisunderstandingsandquixoticimaginingsabout keyaspectsofChanBuddhism.Besidesilluminatingthecomplextextualhistoryof Linji'srecordofsayings,thebookalsoenhancesourunderstandingofthecomplex changesthatmarkedtheChanmovement'sdistincthistoricaltrajectoriesduringthe Tang-Songtransition.ItisalsohighlyrecommendedforanyoneinterestedintheintersectionsbetweenBuddhismandtheliterary,political,andsocialmilieusofSong China. Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries.TranslatedbyBryanW.Van Norden. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 2008. Pp. xliv+207.Paper. ReviewedbyYuet Keung Lo NationalUniversityofSingapore Despite a recent resurgent interest in traditional Chinese classics in the Chinese speakingworld,theworkofMengziseemstobeneglected.Kongzi(Confucius),the masterofConfucianism,appearstomonopolizethelimelight.Thus,ProfessorBryan VanNorden'snewEnglishtranslationoftheMengzi shouldbereceivedwithgreat delight.Ithastheaddedvalueofincludingpartsoftheinsightfulcommentaryofthe Neo-ConfucianmasterZhuXi,whichwasrequiredreadingforthecivilserviceexaminationinChinafrom1313to1905.VanNordenalsointerweaveshisowncom- PhilosophyEast&WestVolume61,Number2April2011399­402 ©2011byUniversityofHawai`iPress mentsthroughoutthetranslation,sometimesilluminatingbothZhuXi'sinsightsand thetextoftheMengziatonce;altogether,heproveshimselftobeareliableguide. VanNorden'sworkislucid,readable,andeasilyaccessibletothelayperson.The Introduction,inparticular,wasclearlywrittenwithageneralaudienceinmind.In addition,thetranslationcomeswithaconvenientEnglish-ChineseglossarythatexplainsthebasicmeaningofkeytermsintheMengziandgivesreferencestowherea particulartermisusedinthetext.OnecannothelpbutseeVanNorden'sconfident experience as a college professor at work. He discusses virtually every important aspect,historicalandphilosophical,thatisindispensableforthelayreadertounderstandMengzi'sphilosophy. Yet certain issues appear to lack proper contextualization. For instance, while VanNordentellshisreaders"Mengzisituateshisphilosophicalanthropologyina broaderworldview"(p.xxxvii),theydonotknowwhyMengziwoulddothat,what aworldviewentails,andwhoseworldviewwasnotasbroadashis.Theyarealso informedthat"MengzisometimestreatsHeavenasalmostidenticalwiththenatural (andamoral)courseofevents"(p.xxxviii),buttheydonotknowhowMengzi'sidea ofHeavenwouldbedifferentfromatotallynaturalandamoralcourseofevents.This neglectedcomparisonseemstobecriticalindefiningwhoMengziwasasaphilosopher. FactualerrorsalsofindtheirwayintotheIntroduction.Forinstance,VanNorden saysthatZhuXi"approvinglycitesChengYi'sviewonAnalects17.2,whichcategoricallyidentifiesthetermxing(humannature)asnatureendowedinqi"(p.xliii). However,thisisnothowZhuXiunderstandsit.Rightatthebeginningofhiscommentary, Zhu clearly says, "Human nature here includes qi endowment as well. Naturesasembodiedinqiofcoursevaryintheirqualities.Yetinsofarastheirbeginningisconcerned,theyarenotquitefarapart."1Inotherwords,Zhutakesxingin thiscontexttosignifybothnatureasPattern(li )andnatureendowedinqi. ItislittleknownthatZhuXihadaspecialmethodofexegesisinhisCollected CommentariestotheFour Books.Hefirstpresentshisownview,whichhebelieves isfaithfultotheoriginalmeaningofthetext.Inelucidatingthisview,hemaycite fromotherscholars.Ifhefindsanyotherinterpretationthatcouldilluminatethetext eventhoughitdoesnotunravelitsoriginalmeaning,heattachesitattheendofhis ownview,withalittlecircletodemarcateitfromthe"faithful"reading.Inthecase ofAnalects 17.2,ZhuXinodoubtdisagreeswithChengYi,whoseviewisplaced afteralittlecircle,becausetohimxinginthiscontextincludesboththeoriginalnatureofhumansandtheirnaturesendowedinqi.Nonetheless,heconsidersCheng Yi'sviewinspiringandusefulinremindingreadersofthedistinctionbetweenoriginalnatureandnatureendowedinqi.Thus,VanNorden'sstatementismisleadingat bestand,strictlyspeaking,erroneous. VanNorden'serrorpartlyresultsfromhisignoranceofthesaidexegeticprinciple in Zhu Xi's nuanced, multilayered commentary, and in reality he consistently conflates the interpretations of distinctive nature assembled in Zhu Xi's Collected Commentariesintoonegrandexpositioninhisownrunningcommentary.HisinclusionofYinTun'sremarksin2B1.5and2B3.5arebuttwoexamples.Whilethismay PhilosophyEast&West notbeasubstantiveissueinaphilosophicaltranslationforthegeneralreader,itisa fundamentalerrorintraditionalChinesetextualcriticismandinZhuXistudies. VanNordeniscorrectinpointingoutthatZhuXimisinterpretsMengzi'sagriculturalmetaphorofthefoursprouts,andhedutifullytriestogivecredittoPhilipIvanhoeforthisinsight.2However,whileIvanhoemaybe"thefirsttonotehowZhuXi's interpretationaltersMengzi'skeymetaphor"intheEnglishspeakingworld(p.xliiin. 41),theinsightinquestionwasfirstrevealedbyQianMuin1964.3 Overall,Van Norden's translation is reliable and fluent, despite minor errors. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 61 (2) – Apr 27, 2011

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Abstract

thatgenuinereligiousconvictionsorpietieswerealsoinvolvedintheinitialformulationandensuingdiffusionofChanteachings,whichprimarilytookplacewithinthe contextofmonasticcommunities.TosomeextentWelterisawareoftheseissuesand concerns,andattimesheaddspertinentcaveatsandqualifications.Here,Iambasi--w callyraisingthequestionofappropriatebalanceandperspective hichisapplicabletomuchofrecentAmericanscholarshiponthesubject atherthansuggesting --r seriousinadequacyintheoverallinterpretiveapproachtakenbyWelter. IamafraidIcannotfullyagreewithWelter'sassertionthatthestoryoftheLinji yuluisnotthestoryofLinjitheman,butastoryofthelatermovementthatcreated thetext.Itisboth.ItistruethatLinji'slifeistosomeextentshroudedinmystery -- probably a reflection of the fact that during his lifetime he was a relatively minor figurewithinthebroaderChanmovement utrecentpublications,whichinclude --b twobooksontheHongzhouSchool,havedemonstratedthattherewasmuchmore toTang Chan than is sometimes assumed by someWestern scholars.Accordingly, thisbookwouldhavebenefitediftheauthorhadtakenabitmoreseriouslythelively socioreligiousmilieuofTangChan,inwhichLinjiandthepeoplearoundhimwere activeparticipants,andwhichproducedtheearliestrecordsofhisteachingsinaliteraryformatthatwasprevalentatthetime. Notwithstandingtheaforementionedcaveatsandlimitations,Iwouldliketoend thisreviewbystressingthatthisisaremarkablebookthatshouldberequiredreading forallseriousstudentsofChan/Zenhistoryandliterature.Welter'sstudygoesalong waytowarddispellingentrenchedmisunderstandingsandquixoticimaginingsabout keyaspectsofChanBuddhism.Besidesilluminatingthecomplextextualhistoryof Linji'srecordofsayings,thebookalsoenhancesourunderstandingofthecomplex changesthatmarkedtheChanmovement'sdistincthistoricaltrajectoriesduringthe Tang-Songtransition.ItisalsohighlyrecommendedforanyoneinterestedintheintersectionsbetweenBuddhismandtheliterary,political,andsocialmilieusofSong China. Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries.TranslatedbyBryanW.Van Norden. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 2008. Pp. xliv+207.Paper. ReviewedbyYuet Keung Lo NationalUniversityofSingapore Despite a recent resurgent interest in traditional Chinese classics in the Chinese speakingworld,theworkofMengziseemstobeneglected.Kongzi(Confucius),the masterofConfucianism,appearstomonopolizethelimelight.Thus,ProfessorBryan VanNorden'snewEnglishtranslationoftheMengzi shouldbereceivedwithgreat delight.Ithastheaddedvalueofincludingpartsoftheinsightfulcommentaryofthe Neo-ConfucianmasterZhuXi,whichwasrequiredreadingforthecivilserviceexaminationinChinafrom1313to1905.VanNordenalsointerweaveshisowncom- PhilosophyEast&WestVolume61,Number2April2011399­402 ©2011byUniversityofHawai`iPress mentsthroughoutthetranslation,sometimesilluminatingbothZhuXi'sinsightsand thetextoftheMengziatonce;altogether,heproveshimselftobeareliableguide. VanNorden'sworkislucid,readable,andeasilyaccessibletothelayperson.The Introduction,inparticular,wasclearlywrittenwithageneralaudienceinmind.In addition,thetranslationcomeswithaconvenientEnglish-ChineseglossarythatexplainsthebasicmeaningofkeytermsintheMengziandgivesreferencestowherea particulartermisusedinthetext.OnecannothelpbutseeVanNorden'sconfident experience as a college professor at work. He discusses virtually every important aspect,historicalandphilosophical,thatisindispensableforthelayreadertounderstandMengzi'sphilosophy. Yet certain issues appear to lack proper contextualization. For instance, while VanNordentellshisreaders"Mengzisituateshisphilosophicalanthropologyina broaderworldview"(p.xxxvii),theydonotknowwhyMengziwoulddothat,what aworldviewentails,andwhoseworldviewwasnotasbroadashis.Theyarealso informedthat"MengzisometimestreatsHeavenasalmostidenticalwiththenatural (andamoral)courseofevents"(p.xxxviii),buttheydonotknowhowMengzi'sidea ofHeavenwouldbedifferentfromatotallynaturalandamoralcourseofevents.This neglectedcomparisonseemstobecriticalindefiningwhoMengziwasasaphilosopher. FactualerrorsalsofindtheirwayintotheIntroduction.Forinstance,VanNorden saysthatZhuXi"approvinglycitesChengYi'sviewonAnalects17.2,whichcategoricallyidentifiesthetermxing(humannature)asnatureendowedinqi"(p.xliii). However,thisisnothowZhuXiunderstandsit.Rightatthebeginningofhiscommentary, Zhu clearly says, "Human nature here includes qi endowment as well. Naturesasembodiedinqiofcoursevaryintheirqualities.Yetinsofarastheirbeginningisconcerned,theyarenotquitefarapart."1Inotherwords,Zhutakesxingin thiscontexttosignifybothnatureasPattern(li )andnatureendowedinqi. ItislittleknownthatZhuXihadaspecialmethodofexegesisinhisCollected CommentariestotheFour Books.Hefirstpresentshisownview,whichhebelieves isfaithfultotheoriginalmeaningofthetext.Inelucidatingthisview,hemaycite fromotherscholars.Ifhefindsanyotherinterpretationthatcouldilluminatethetext eventhoughitdoesnotunravelitsoriginalmeaning,heattachesitattheendofhis ownview,withalittlecircletodemarcateitfromthe"faithful"reading.Inthecase ofAnalects 17.2,ZhuXinodoubtdisagreeswithChengYi,whoseviewisplaced afteralittlecircle,becausetohimxinginthiscontextincludesboththeoriginalnatureofhumansandtheirnaturesendowedinqi.Nonetheless,heconsidersCheng Yi'sviewinspiringandusefulinremindingreadersofthedistinctionbetweenoriginalnatureandnatureendowedinqi.Thus,VanNorden'sstatementismisleadingat bestand,strictlyspeaking,erroneous. VanNorden'serrorpartlyresultsfromhisignoranceofthesaidexegeticprinciple in Zhu Xi's nuanced, multilayered commentary, and in reality he consistently conflates the interpretations of distinctive nature assembled in Zhu Xi's Collected Commentariesintoonegrandexpositioninhisownrunningcommentary.HisinclusionofYinTun'sremarksin2B1.5and2B3.5arebuttwoexamples.Whilethismay PhilosophyEast&West notbeasubstantiveissueinaphilosophicaltranslationforthegeneralreader,itisa fundamentalerrorintraditionalChinesetextualcriticismandinZhuXistudies. VanNordeniscorrectinpointingoutthatZhuXimisinterpretsMengzi'sagriculturalmetaphorofthefoursprouts,andhedutifullytriestogivecredittoPhilipIvanhoeforthisinsight.2However,whileIvanhoemaybe"thefirsttonotehowZhuXi's interpretationaltersMengzi'skeymetaphor"intheEnglishspeakingworld(p.xliiin. 41),theinsightinquestionwasfirstrevealedbyQianMuin1964.3 Overall,Van Norden's translation is reliable and fluent, despite minor errors.

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Apr 27, 2011

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