Language, Ontology, and Political Philosophy in China: Wang Bi's Scholarly Exploration of the Dark (Xuanxue)

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SUNY Press, Jan 16, 2003 - Philosophy - 261 pages
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With the collapse of the Han dynasty in 220 C.E., an entire system of state and intellectual organization fell apart. The brilliant Wang Bi and his generation of young scholars grew up in a no-man’s land without teachers and orthodoxy. Defying the established school divisions, they set out on a vigorous and daring new philosophical inquiry which came to be known as Xuanxue, the “Scholarly Exploration of the Dark.” They found “subtle pointers” in the Laozi, the Book of Changes, and the Analects of Confucius about the inequity of language and the ensuing need to proceed by “subtle” indications that ultimately led to a philosophy of Being.

In this book, Rudolf G. Wagner shows how Wang Bi’s sophisticated analysis of “subtle pointers” in the language of the Laozi developed into an ontology that served as the basis for a political philosophy of the ruler/subject relationship and a guide for the public performance of an enlightened ruler. Wang Bi’s work initiated the reading of the Laozi, the Book of Changes and the Analects as philosophical texts and has had a lasting impact on Chinese philosophy.
 

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User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

Wang Bi wrote a philosophical commentary of taoist texts in the third century and this is a detailed analysis of that commentary. Unless you're a professional scholar of ancient China and taoism, you ... Read full review

Contents

Discerning the ThatbyWhich The Language of the Laozi and the Lunyu
5
The Ineffability of the Sages Thinking
7
The Radical Position
10
Developing Reading Strategies
15
The Discussion about Language and the Thinking of the Sage in Wei
44
Talking about ThatWhichIsDark
56
The Logical Deduction of the Unnameability of ThatbyWhich the Ten Thousand Kinds of Entities Are
57
The Deduction of the Possibility of Limited but Sufficiently Grounded Propositions about ThatbyWhich the Ten Thousand Kinds of Entities Are
60
The Binary Structural Organization of Entities
98
The Order of the Ten Thousand Kinds of Entities
108
The One and the Many
121
The Dao
125
The Dark
144
Wang Bis Political Philosophy
148
The Causes of the Crisis
153
The Sage
177

Antinomy and Negation
62
Grasping Aspects of the ThatbyWhich
69
An Explanation of the Images Xiang of the Zhouyi
80
Wang Bis Ontology
83
Wang Bis Inquiry into the ThatbyWhich
88
Wang Bis Approach
91
Sagely Politics as Public Performance
199
An Ideology?
213
Notes
217
Bibliography
243
Index
255
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About the author (2003)

Rudolf G. Wagner is Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Heidelberg. He is the author of several books, including The Craft of a Chinese Commentator: Wang Bi on the Laozi, also published by SUNY Press.

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