Ssu-ma Ch'ien's hih chi is one of the most influential of Chinese histories, but its organization reflects a historiography quite different from that of traditional Western history. Ssu-ma divided his account of the past into five overlapping sections: basic annals , chronological tables, treatises, hereditary houses , and biographies. One result of this fragmented arrangement is that stories may be told more than once, from different perspectives, and these accounts may not be entirely consistent. From a Western perspective this would (...) seem to indicate a certain disregard for the truth, but in many hih chi passages Ssu-ma Ch'ien demonstrates a passionate concern for accuracy.In this article I examine in detail one typical set of multiple narrations--the five versions of Wei Pao's defection in c. 205 B.C.--and argue that in some ways Ssu-ma's conflicting accounts reflect the past more accurately than the unified narrative we expect from Western histories. Although Ssu-ma's methods might seem amenable to the constructivist theories of Louis Mink and Hayden White, in the end this type of analysis is inadequate to explain a work which is rooted in a non-Western tradition of historiography. Ssu-ma Ch'ien's own conception of history recognized the limitations of historians and evidence, held out the possibility of multiple interpretations, and focused on moral insight. It is a mix unfamiliar to Westerners, but it does provide a coherent picture of Ssu-ma Ch'ien's historical methodology, and it may serve as an interesting example for modern historians who seek to escape traditional modes of historical writing. (shrink)
In ancient times in our country, Wang Ch'ung was an eminent materialist and a brilliant atheist, a progressive thinker who opposed the orthodox feudal thought. This has gone basically unquestioned. This year the February 21 issue of Kuang-ming jih-pao printed in its philosophy section an article by Comrade T'ung Mo-an, "Is Wang Ch'ung a Peasant Class Thinker?" The article is an evaluation completely denying this. T'ung believes that the purpose of Wang Ch'ung's works was "to uphold the rule of the (...) Han," "ardently and unconditionally to sing the praises of the Han ruler and court," "to make sacred the rule of the Han," "to get the populace to live quietly, forever in a servile position," and "to view inimically and to slander peasant uprisings." "Wang Ch'ung was an orthodox thinker of the landlord class," "a thinker produced in the interests of the rule of the landlord class who confirmed the feudal orthodoxy." Although I myself am not praising Wang Ch'ung as a peasant class thinker or denying that in Wang Ch'ung's thought there are negative elements, I am completely unable to agree with the basic viewpoint that the author puts forward. (shrink)
After reading the essays of Mr. Ts'ai and Mr. Chu, I have a few immature opinions. Generally speaking, I feel that in dealing with the errors of their opponents, both Ts'ai I in his criticism of Huang Yüeh-mien and Chu Kuang-ch'ien in his criticism of Ts'ai I are quite accurate and convincing. However, in presenting their own arguments of what is right, both of them are on shaky ground and in error. That is because in one way or another, consciously (...) or unconsciously, they either deny the objective aspect of the existence of beauty or deny the social aspect of the existence of beauty . All of them consider the objective and the social aspects of beauty as being either this or that, as mutually exclusive and irreconcilable opposites. They think that if we acknowledge the social aspect of beauty, we then have to deny the objective aspect, the fact that the existence of beauty does not depend on the subjective conditions of a person ; or if we acknowledge the objective aspect, we have to deny the social aspect, the fact that the existence of beauty depends on the social life of human beings. But in fact it is not like that. On the one hand, beauty cannot be separated from human society; on the other hand, it can have an objective existence which is independent of man's subjective consciousness. It is this question that I shall discuss. (shrink)
Originally a religious term, from the sixth century B.C. on, the word "t'ien," or "heaven," played a significant role in discourse among philosophical schools. The earliest of these was Juism . This study analyzes statements concerning T'ien in three early Juist texts: the Analects, Mencius, and Hsun Tzu. ;Previous analyses of the role of T'ien in Juism have viewed that role in terms of a model of evolving meanings of "t'ien" during the late Chou period, which claims that the term (...) originally denoted an anthropomorphic deity, but increasingly came to denote "Nature." Studies of the role of T'ien in Juist texts have explored whether this model fits those texts. ;This essay holds that to identify characteristically Juist meanings of the term "t'ien," we must do more than identify referential images which may have been associated with its uses in Juist texts. We should, instead, explore the function which uses of the term may have had in relation to the activities and goals of the early Juist school. ;The focus of those activities and goals has traditionally been understood as a political program. This study argues that early Juism was essentially a socially insular cult devoted to mastery of traditional ritual skills; political purism functioned to shelter the cult from political responsibilities and dangers. ;If this is correct, the role of T'ien in early Juist texts should reflect a disjunction between ritual and political spheres. And indeed we find that throughout the three texts analyzed, the term "t'ien" is generally employed to picture a supreme ethical entity--whether a god, Fate, or Nature--as a prescriptive basis for ritual practice in the present, or as a descriptive force ensuring that Juist political efforts will be futile in the present and successful in the future. ;Thus, in early Juist rhetoric, T'ien is used to justify Juism's ritual focus and legitimize its contemporary withdrawal from political activity. This is the characteristic instrumental meaning of the term "t'ien" in early Juist texts, remaining central despite changes in connotative imagery associated with the term in late Chou thought. (shrink)
In the realm of man's culture, among the things created by man, art should be beautiful; its primary essential characteristic should be that it be able to evoke a sense of beauty in the person, that by its beauty it be able to provide for the person the pleasure of the sense of beauty. This is a fact that no one can deny outright. However, saying that art should be beautiful is not the same as saying that all art is (...) beautiful. In fact, there is art which is beautiful and art which is not beautiful; and this too is a fact that no one can deny. (shrink)
Having read the works of Wang Ch'ung [A.D. 27-c. 100], I realized that they need to be recapitulated. Here I shall evaluate Wang Ch'ung and his thought and present what I feel to be the real significance that Wang Ch'ung's thought still has today.