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Focusing the Familiar

Focusing the Familiar: A Translation and Philosophical Interpretation of the Zhongyong

Roger T. Ames
David L. Hall
Copyright Date: 2001
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  • Book Info
    Focusing the Familiar
    Book Description:

    The Zhongyong--translated here as Focusing the Familiar--has been regarded as a document of enormous wisdom for more than two millennia and is one of Confucianism's most sacred and seminal texts. It achieved truly canonical preeminence when it became one of the Four Books compiled and annotated by the Southern Song dynasty philosopher Zhu Xi (1130-1200). Within the compass of world literature, the influence of these books (Analects of Confucius, Great Learning, Zhongyong, and Mencius) on the Sinitic world of East Asia has been no less than the Bible and the Qu'ran on Western civilization. With this new translation David Hall and Roger Ames provide a distinctly philosophical interpretation of the Zhongyong, remaining attentive to the semantic and conceptual nuances of the text to account for its central place within classical Chinese literature. They present the text in such a way as to provide Western philosophers and other intellectuals access to a set of interpretations and arguments that offer new insights into issues and concerns common to both Chinese and Western thinkers. In addition to the annotated translation, a glossary of terms gives in concise form important senses of the terms that play a key role in the argument of the Zhongyong. An appendix addresses some of the more technical issues relevant to the understanding of both the history of the text and the history of its English translations. Here the translators introduce readers to the best contemporary textual studies of the Zhongyong and make use of the most recent archaeological discoveries in China to place the work within its own intellectual context.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6255-8
    Subjects: Linguistics, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-X)
    Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall
  4. Preface
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  5. Introduction: A Philosophical Interpretation of the Zhongyong
    (pp. 1-60)

    TheZhongyong中庸 is attributed to Kong Ji 孔伋 (483–402 bce), grandson of Confucius (551–479 bce), born to Confucius’s son Boyu 伯魚 who himself appears in theAnalects. Kong Ji is best known by his “style” name, Zisizi 子思子 or “Master” Zisi.

    TheZhongyongis certainly the most influential work attributed to Zisi. The text is ascribed to Master Zisi by name in the biography of Confucius in theRecords of the Historian(Shiji史記) and in some other early sources. We should not, however, put too much credence in the idea that theZhongyong, or any of...

  6. Glossary of Key Terms
    (pp. 61-88)
  7. Focusing the Familiar: A Translation of the Zhongyong
    (pp. 89-130)

    1. 天命之謂性,率性之謂道,修道之謂敎。道也者,不可須臾離 也;可離非道也。是故君子戒慎乎其所不睹,恐懼乎其所不聞。 莫見乎隱,莫顯乎微,故君子慎其獨也。

    喜怒哀樂之未發謂之中。發而皆中節謂之和。中也者,天 下之大本也。和也者,天下之達道也。致中和,天地位焉。萬 物育焉。

    Whattian天² commands (ming命) is called natural tendencies (xing性);³ drawing out⁴ these natural tendencies is called the proper way (dao道);⁵ improving upon⁶ this way is called education (jiao敎).⁷ As for this proper way, we cannot quit it even for an instant. Were it even possible to quit it, it would not be the proper way.⁸ It is for this reason that exemplary persons (junzi君子) are so concerned about what is not seen, and so anxious about what is not heard. There is nothing more present than what is...

  8. Appendix
    (pp. 131-154)
  9. Bibliography of Works Cited
    (pp. 155-160)
  10. Index
    (pp. 161-166)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-170)