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)
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)
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)
Compiled in the twelfth century A.D. by Chu Hsi, leading exponent of Neo-Confucianism, with the assistance of Lü Tsu-Ch'ien, Chin-ssu Lu serves as a summary of, and introduction to, the vast literature of Neo-Confucian philosophy. Adding a more rational theoretical foundation and new methods of moral cultivation and study to traditional thought and practice, Neo-Confucianism has exercised great influence upon thought and social life in East Asia in the past six hundred years. As the classical statement of this philosophy, (...) this anthology brings together passages from Chou Tun-i, Ch'eng Hao and Ch'eng I, and Chang Tsai on the Way, Learning, and Self-improvement, as well as assessments of the character of Sages and Worthies; also included is a chapter on the doctrines of Buddhism and Taoism, pointing out ways in which they deviated from the Confucian Way. It is a very stimulating work; indeed almost every sentence has spark and substance. Although it has been widely studied by East Asian scholars, so far in the West there has been only the translation into German by Father Olaf Graf, now virtually unobtainable. With his mastery of Chinese philosophical literature, his industriousness in research and his augmentation of the text by generous quotations from the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean commentaries, the translator has achieved extraordinary success in making the English version even more comprehensible than the original Chinese.--T. S. C. (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)
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.
After reading the recent essays in the People's Daily [Jen-min jih-pao] by Comrade Ts'ai I, Comrade Chu Kuang-ch'ien, Comrade Li Che-hou, and others on the problems in aesthetics, I feel that they contain both accuracies and inaccuracies concerning the basic questions with which they have dealt, and here I would like to discuss my views on the problems involved in the debate.
The essays on aesthetics in recent publications, beginning with the criticisms of Chu Kuang-ch'ien's point of view in aesthetics and continuing down to his article "How Can Aesthetics be Materialistic and Dialectic?" [Mei-hsüeh tsen-yang ts'ai neng shih wei-wu ti yu shih pien-cheng ti?"], have focused on the problem of the relationship between the subjective and the objective in beauty and in sense of beauty. This is a fundamental problem in aesthetics, and only when we have solved this problem can we (...) answer the questions of what beauty is and wherein beauty lies. Some people have presented their own tentative answers to these questions, and these have been discussed by our comrades. (shrink)
During the past year, there has been progressive criticism and debate in the literary field centered on my former point of view in aesthetics. This has been very helpful to me. As a result of this, I have a better understanding of the errors of the basic starting point in subjective idealism. At the same time, I have gained a clearer understanding of the basic question in aesthetics and of the differences among the various opinions of those who took part (...) in the debate. This is not yet the time for summarizing; but as we shall see below, the road that we have taken and even the difficulties that we have encountered along that road have been very beneficial to our progressive inquiries. (shrink)
Comrade Huang Yüeh-mien's article, "A Discussion of the Aesthetics of the Wealthy" [Lun shih-li che ti mei-hsüeh], which criticized my point of view in aesthetics, was published later than my self-criticism. Before he published it, he had presented it at a discussion meeting at Peking Teachers College. He let me read it only after he had submitted it to Literature [Wen-i pao] for publication. I wrote to the editor of Literature, Comrade K'ang Cho, saying that basically I accepted his criticisms (...) but that I wished to raise a number of points. I pointed out that the author's method of dealing with the problems of "empathy emotion," "forgetting self," and "inspiration" was not very different from the method that I had used before. I pointed out that "association of ideas" occupied an important position in his aesthetics — he seems to substitute "association of ideas of form" for "intuition of form." Furthermore, I stated that I did not think he had answered clearly the questions of whether "beauty exists in the mind or in the thing," of the relationship between beauty and sense of beauty, and of the difference between formal thought and abstract thought; and I said that I hoped he would give me more assistance with these questions. However, Comrade Huang Yüeh-mien for the most part ignored the points that I had raised and the questions to which I had sought answers, and he published in Literature the paper that he had presented at Peking Teachers College almost unaltered. Consequently, the questions that I raised concerning Comrade Huang Yüeh-mien's point of view in aesthetics remain unanswered. At that time I still felt that his point of view in aesthetics basically was materialistic, although there were some tendencies in it that raised doubts in my mind. This explains the fact that my judgments on idealist aesthetics remain to be improved. (shrink)
Before liberation, my publications on aesthetics and literary theory had a widespread evil influence upon young readers. Since liberation, I have regretted that. I have eagerly studied Marxism-Leninism, seeking first to establish and then to destroy, in the hope that one day I will have thoroughly cleansed the long-standing infections in my thought. By waiting "to establish" I am putting off the task of "destroying." However, if a thing is not established, it cannot really be destroyed, and if it is (...) not destroyed, it cannot be established; the tasks of establishing and destroying must proceed together. At the present time, in order to bring socialism to its highest point of development, the Party and the government are making even greater demands on the intellectuals, expecting them to carry out a thoroughgoing program of thought reform so as to tran-quilize the remnants of the rotten thinking of the capitalist class and to establish the Marxist-Leninist world outlook and scientific method, thus demonstrating its inherent strength through socialist reconstruction. All the intellectuals accept this summons eagerly. As far as I myself am concerned, the Party's concern and teaching during the past few years have already produced fundamental changes in me, and I am truly grateful for the new life that the Party has given me. I feel that in this great summons, whether it be to wash away the evil influences of the past or whether it be for the benefit of my future scientific work, it is my responsibility to take advantage of this opportunity to progressively and sincerely criticize my own reactionary, rotten thinking. This I understand clearly, but at the present level of my thinking, I still feel unequal to the task. Nevertheless, I am confident that what I cannot see myself my comrades can certainly point out for me. (shrink)
In this issue we present discussions on aesthetic questions which took place in the People's Republic of China during its first decade. These discussions concentrate on criticisms of the original and revised positions of Chu Kuang-ch'ien, the renowned aesthetician and art critic at Peking University. Although Chu has relinquished his old Crocean view regarding beauty and art, he has frankly indicated that he cannot accept a purely materialistic account of beauty as an independent objective material quality, and this is the (...) basis for criticism of his revised position. Despite there being no definite conclusions reached, directions toward the socialist popularist aesthetic ideology of later decades can be vaguely detected in these discussions. (shrink)
In this issue we present Chu-Kuang-ch'ien's revised position in aesthetics and philosophy of art which reflects his effort to meet the demands of the Marxist doctrine. His new position still came under vehement attack by many younger Chinese Marxist writers, as is shown here. Chu Kuang-ch'ien was a leading and influential aesthetician and philosopher of art and literature in China before 1949.