Chinese Theories of Reading and Writing: A Route to by Ming Dong Gu

By Ming Dong Gu

This formidable paintings presents a scientific research of chinese language theories of examining and writing in highbrow proposal and significant perform. the writer keeps that there are significant hermeneutic traditions in chinese language literature: the politico-moralistic mainstream and the metaphysico-aesthetical undercurrent. In exploring the interplay among the 2, Ming Dong Gu unearths a circulate towards interpretive openness. during this, the chinese language perform anticipates sleek and Western theories of interpretation, specially literary openness and open poetics. vintage chinese language works are tested, together with the Zhouyi (the I Ching or booklet of Changes), the Shijing (the booklet of Songs or publication of Poetry), and chosen poetry, besides the philosophical historical past of the hermeneutic theories. finally, Gu relates the chinese language practices of studying to Western hermeneutics, supplying a cross-cultural conceptual version for the comparative learn of analyzing and writing quite often.

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Additional resources for Chinese Theories of Reading and Writing: A Route to Hermeneutics and Open Poetics

Example text

Although there certainly existed a division among scholars, I venture to suggest that because all of them were engaged in an effort to get to the bottom of language representation, there was also a trend that aimed at reconciling the conflicting views on language and reading. Yang Xiong (53–18 BC) may be the first to notice the contradictory stance in Mencius’ and Zhuangzi’s positions and to make an effort to reconcile the opposite views: Speech cannot express the heart; writing cannot express one’s thought.

What a great pity that people in the world consider shapes and colors, epithets and sounds as adequate means to obtain another person’s inner feelings. 18 Step by step, Zhuangzi dismantled Mencius’ communicative model of writing and reading and vehemently argued that writing cannot transmit the Dao; words cannot transmit ideas; language cannot transmit subtle thoughts. Because of the inadequacy of speech and language as a means of communication, Zhuangzi dismissed writings in general. Perhaps, this may have inspired later Chan Buddhists’ dismissal of language and books as instruments for transmitting the truth.

Language can only express general ideas, but what is on the mind of a writer/speaker is something particular. Therefore, it cannot express the individual thought of an individual writer. From the writer’s point of view, Zhuangzi suggested that because yanbu jinyi (language cannot fully express ideas), a writer should go beyond the confines of language and make full use of the suggestiveness of language to capture thought. But what should a reader do given the fact that language is a second-best tool?

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