Effortless Action: Wu-Wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China

Oxford University Press (2003)
Abstract
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.
Keywords Philosophy, Chinese  Nothing (Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book $36.00 used (68% off)   $59.00 new (47% off)   $101.38 direct from Amazon (8% off)    Amazon page
Call number B126.S645 2003
ISBN(s) 0195138996   9780195138993
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Karyn L. Lai (2007). Ziran and Wuwei in the Daodejing : An Ethical Assessment. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (4):325-337.
    Aaron Stalnaker (2010). Virtue as Mastery in Early Confucianism. Journal of Religious Ethics 38 (3):404-428.

    View all 12 citations

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    37 ( #39,258 of 1,089,062 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,801 of 1,089,062 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.