Chinese Ideas About Nature and Society

Chinese Ideas About Nature and Society: Studies in Honour of Derk Bodde

Charles Le Blanc
Susan Blader
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 360
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Chinese Ideas About Nature and Society
    Book Description:

    The universe, in Chinese eyes, is a harmonious organism; its pattern of movement is inherent and not imposed from without; and the world of man, being a part of the universe, follows a similar pattern. (Derk Bodde, Harmony and Conflict in Chinese Philosophy). The main theme that pervades this Festschrift, written by fellow-scholars and students of Bodde for his seventy-fifth birthday, is that of the proper ordering of the universe as it obtains in the Chinese tradition.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-069-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Susan Blader and Charles Le Blanc
  5. Biography of Derk Bodde
    (pp. 1-20)
    Adele Rickett

    In a small room crowded with students and a smattering of faculty on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, a professor was delivering a speech in support of Henry A. Wallace, presidential candidate of the Progressive Party. The year was 1948. The professorʹs delivery was marked by the same clarity of diction and systematic arrangement of materials that characterized his classroom lectures on Chinese civilization and thought. Yet the students seated in the first row could see the whiteness of his knuckles as he pressed his fists down hard on the table in front of him, and to those...

  6. Bibliography of Derk Bodde
    (pp. 21-34)
  7. A Letter from John C. Ferguson to Derk Bodde
    (pp. 35-36)

    Dr. Ferguson (1866-1945) went as a young missionary from the United States to China in 1887. There he became a distinguished administrator (among other posts, the first president of Nanyang College, Shanghai, 1897-1902, where in 1919-22 I was to live as a boy), owner of Shanghaiʹs leading newspaper, the Sin Wan Pao (1899-1929), adviser to several Chinese governments, and collector and writer on Chinese art. In the 1930s he became very much the godfather of the small group of young Americans who then studied Chinese subjects in Peking. So many things did he do for us. On my bookcase, as...

  8. Distinguished Scholarship Award, 1985
    (pp. 37-38)

    Derk Bodde — Emeritus Professor of Chinese Studies and founder of East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania renowned for pioneering scholarship a wide range of Sinological fields:

    Your work in such diverse areas as the institutions, history, thought, festivals, law, and literature of pre-modern China has, since the 1930s, set standards for the study of Chinese texts and provided much of the groundwork on which succeeding generations of scholars have based their research. Your studies of Chinese influence on the thinking of Henry Wallace and Leo Tolstoy and the impact of the Communist revolution on traditional Chinese culture...

  9. Interpretations of Nature
    • The First Neo-Confucianism: an Introduction to Yang Hsiungʹs ʹCanon of Supreme Mysteryʹ (Tʹai hsuan ching, c.4 b.c.)
      (pp. 41-100)
      Michael Nylan and Nathan Sivin

      Confucius, Mencius, and Hsun-tzu were humanists, in the sense that they believed the conditions of the good life were to be met within human society. The relation of the individual to the gods or to the cosmos was not a comparably urgent problem. By 100 b.c. the first stable Chinese empire was supporting its claims to legitimacy with a Confucianism that, by a process not at all self-evident, had come to give the relation of man and Nature a place as conspicuous as that of man and man.

      The new syntheses of beliefs prevalent among leading thinkers can only be...

    • Symbolic Expressions of Yin-Yang Philosophy
      (pp. 101-116)
      Schuyler Cammann

      The peoples of nearly every tribe and nation have used symbols to express their deepest and most abstruse, philosophic or religious ideas, because symbols can more immediately convey these, on many levels. The people of Old China were no exception. When we examine their pictorial motifs — which are seldom ʹmere decorationʹ — we find that these formed units in a ʹlanguage of symbols,ʹ which functioned much like individual words in writing. If we can manage to decipher these and read their meanings with some degree of certainty, they can help to throw a clearer light on ideas and concepts...

    • From Ontology to Cosmogony: Notes on Chuang Tzu and Huai-nan Tzu
      (pp. 117-130)
      Charles Le Blanc

      In a classsic work F. M. Cornford argues that Greek culture, starting about 600 b.c. moved steadily from religion to philosophy and that the latter was by and large a rational transposition of the former.¹ The work of M. Granet, based on very different premises, tends to show that basic patterns of ʹclassicalʹ Chinese philosophy (sixth to third century b.c.) were evolved from archaic Chinese myths and religious beliefs.² The beginnings of Chinese philosophy can for a large part be understood as the result of a process of ʹdemythologisationʹ. My purpose here, however, is not to delve in the many...

  10. Beliefs and Values
    • The Role of Compromise in Chinese Culture
      (pp. 133-152)
      Herrlee G. Creel

      Professor Bodde, in his essay on ʹHarmony and Conflict in Chinese Philosophyʹ, speaks of ʹthe Chinese mind, with its strong preference for working compromises in place of unworkable absolutesʹ, and says that ʹbasic among Chinese thought patterns is the desire to merge seemingly conflicting elements into a unified harmonyʹ.¹

      The theme of the tendency toward compromise in Chinese culture is an important one, which has been studied in various aspects. In Boddeʹs essay, almost every page refers to the element of compromise as it appears in ʹChinese thinking on a sophisticated philosophical levelʹ. Jerome Alan Cohen, in a paper on...

    • ʹYen Chʹa-san Thrice Testedʹ: Printed Novel to Oral Tale
      (pp. 153-174)
      Susan Blader

      In my earlier studies of the late nineteenth-century novel San-hsia wu-yi 三侠五義 (Three Heroes and Five Gallants) and its relationship to an incomplete song-book manuscript located in the Rare Book Library of Academia Sinica, Taiwan,¹ I chose the episode ʹThe Pig-Head Purchaseʹ for comparison with the song-book version of the same episode, entitled ʹThe Nine-Headsʹ Murder Caseʹ.² Although I could not prove linear development from that particular song-book to San-hsia wu-yi which is thrice removed from whatever oral version served as the source for transcription,³ the comparison brought to light the differences we are likely to find between transcribed versions...

    • Living with the Chinese: the Muslim Experience in China, Tʹang to Ming
      (pp. 175-194)
      Donald Daniel Leslie

      A foreign religion or minority is inevitably faced with the problem of accommodation with the native customs and beliefs. The Persian religions, Mazdeism, Nestorianism and Manichaeism, and Judaism and Islam too, though all mainly for foreigners and non-Chinese, were faced in China with Confucianism and Taoism and a largely sinicized Buddhism. Nevertheless, Mazdeism flourished in Chʹangan and Loyang and throughout China from the Wei (c.516-9) and the Sui (581-618), Nestorianism from 635 and Manichaeism from 694. Their early success was, however, wiped out in 843-5 when they were proscribed. This may possibly have been the result of a backlash against...

    • The Cult of the Dragon and the Invocation for Rain
      (pp. 195-214)
      Michael Loewe

      Chinese historical sources frequently mention the occurrence of drought and the measures that were adopted to relieve the population from such calamities. Some of the methods reflect the early belief in a connection between the appearance of dragons and the downfall of rain, and it is with this subject that the present paper is concerned.

      For a variety of reasons the connection drawn between dragons and rainfall bears an intrinsic interest. First, it is an example of sympathetic magic of an imitative type, which seeks to bring about material results by a display of phenomena similar to those that are...

    • Shih chi 127, the Symbiosis of Two Historians
      (pp. 215-234)
      Timoteus Pokora

      In my forthcoming book ʹChʹu Shao-sun 褚少孫 — the Third Author of the Shih chiʹ, I intend to present studies and annotated translations of those chapters of the Shih chi 史言己 which have not yet been translated at all and especially in which the texts of Chʹu Shao-sun (c.105-c.30 b.c.) are appended to those of Ssu-ma Chʹien 司馬遷 (c.145-c.87 b.c.). A preliminary account of this uncommon personality was given in my study ʹChʹu Shao-sun — the Narrator of Stories in the Shih chiʹ, Annali dellʹ Istituto Orientale di Napoli, 40 (1981), 1-28. Here I deal with Shih chi 127, one...

  11. Legal and Political Concepts
    • Kuan-tzu and the Newly Discovered Texts on Bamboo and Silk
      (pp. 237-248)
      W. Allyn Rickett

      During the early 1970s Chinese archeologists made a series of phenomenal discoveries of early documents written on bamboo and silk that have proved to be invaluable in the study of early Chinese thought and institutions. Two of these in particular have had a profound impact on our understanding of pre-Han and Han texts.

      The first took place in April, 1972 at Yin-chʹüeh-shan 銀雀山 , Linyi 臨色 Hsien, Shantung, where almost 5,000 bamboo slips were excavated from two Han tombs dating about 134 b.c. Most of the slips were either badly fragmented or contained only three or four characters, but some...

    • The Functions of the Commandant of Justice during the Han Period
      (pp. 249-264)
      A.F.P. Hulsewé

      During both the Former and the Later Han period, the Commandant of Justice, tʹing wei 廷尉,¹ was one of the Nine Ministers, chiu chʹing 九鯽, and a highly important figure in the administration of the empire. [Bibliographic information for the works quoted may be found at the end of the article.] The organization of his department has recently been described in detail by Professor Bielenstein; earlier I had also devoted several paragraphs to this subject.² However, as remarked by Professor Chʹü Tʹung-tsu,³ I had inexplicably neglected to describe the role of the Commandant of Justice in the actual administration of...

    • Pan Kuʹs Accusations against Wang Mang
      (pp. 265-270)
      Hans Bielenstein

      The historian Pan Ku 班固 (d. a.d. 92) was a partisan of the Han dynasty and consequently a harsh critic of Wang Mang 王养. Guided by political necessity and a philosophy of history which was based on the theory of the Mandate of Heaven, he tried to show why Wang Mang had been unworthy to found a new dynasty and how he consequently had failed. From this perspective, the man who had actually been an emperor from a.d. 9 to 23 appears to shrink into a mad usurper, a view which has been echoed by most Chinese and Western historians...

    • The Concept of Doubt in Tʹang Criminal Law
      (pp. 271-280)
      Wallace Johnson

      In the West those of us who are accustomed to the common law tradition of the English-speaking world or to the civil law of the European nations agree that no one can be convicted of a criminal offense unless his/her guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is not sufficient to overcome this legal barrier to conviction, the verdict must be in favor of the defendant.

      Thus the usual outcome of a criminal trial is a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Only in Scots law is the third decision of ʹnot provenʹ possible. But even in...

    • The Meaning of Hsing-te
      (pp. 281-292)
      John S. Major

      The study of traditional Chinese intellectual history depends fundamentally on understanding exactly what every word and phrase of classical Chinese means in its own context.¹ In these pages I propose to discuss a phrase that occurs in texts of the Warring States and Han periods. Perhaps because its meaning seems so obvious, it has often been interpreted in ways that are inadequate or inaccurate.²

      Hsing-te 刑德 is usually understood to mean ʹpunishments and rewardsʹ. In most cases, it means precisely that. In ancient China, it was widely accepted that Yin 陰, Yang 陽 and the Five Phases (wu-hsing 五行) went...

  12. History of Science
    • The Fire-lance, Ancestor of All Gun-barrels
      (pp. 295-334)
      Joseph Needham

      The history of the fire-lance can be seen as the progressive development of the use of gun-powder in China. At some moment after the first invention of the deflagrative, ultimately explosive and detonative, mixture of saltpetre sulphur and charcoal, it occurred to someone to enclose the low-nitrate powder in a tube, and make it play upon the enemy. From this derived in the course of time all barrels whatsoever, ranging from bamboo¹ through carton-paper and leather to copper, bronze, wrought iron, and cast iron. Exactly when this crucial step was taken we may shortly see, as we first study the...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 335-338)
  14. Glossary-Index
    (pp. 339-348)