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On Wu-wei as a Unifying Metaphor

On Wu-wei as a Unifying Metaphor FEATURE REVIEW Department of Philosophy, Chinese University of Hong Kong Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China. By Edward Slingerland. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. xii þ 352. $60.00. This provocative work is the most ambitious general study of pre-Qin thought to appear in more than a decade. It deals with what is increasingly recognized as one of the period's key themes, the ethical ideal of perfected action and the processes of cultivation, or uncultivation, by which it might be achieved. The book has two specific aims, one substantive, one methodological (p. vii). The substantive aim is to show that the notion of wu-wei , which Slingerland renders as ``effortless action,'' functioned as a shared ideal and problematic for both Daoists and Confucians and that internal tensions in this ideal motivated much of the development of Warring States thought (p. 5). The methodological aim is to illustrate the fruitfulness of conceptual-metaphor theory, familiar from the work of Lakoff and Johnson, by employing it to articulate and support the book's substantive theses (p. vii). For Slingerland, wu-wei is ``a state of personal harmony in which actions flow freely and instantly from one's http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

On Wu-wei as a Unifying Metaphor

Philosophy East and West , Volume 57 (1) – Jan 25, 2007

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1529-1898
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Abstract

FEATURE REVIEW Department of Philosophy, Chinese University of Hong Kong Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China. By Edward Slingerland. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. xii þ 352. $60.00. This provocative work is the most ambitious general study of pre-Qin thought to appear in more than a decade. It deals with what is increasingly recognized as one of the period's key themes, the ethical ideal of perfected action and the processes of cultivation, or uncultivation, by which it might be achieved. The book has two specific aims, one substantive, one methodological (p. vii). The substantive aim is to show that the notion of wu-wei , which Slingerland renders as ``effortless action,'' functioned as a shared ideal and problematic for both Daoists and Confucians and that internal tensions in this ideal motivated much of the development of Warring States thought (p. 5). The methodological aim is to illustrate the fruitfulness of conceptual-metaphor theory, familiar from the work of Lakoff and Johnson, by employing it to articulate and support the book's substantive theses (p. vii). For Slingerland, wu-wei is ``a state of personal harmony in which actions flow freely and instantly from one's

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 25, 2007

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