Chinese Way of Thinking

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When I was a guest speaker in Germany in 1992, I said to the
audience that the intercultural communication between East and West is
not proportionately at the same level. For a Chinese professor or
university student in general can provide a name list of more than a
hundred well-known figures in the Western history. Then, how many of the
Chinese counterparts from antiquity to the present could a German
professor oruniversity student at large possibly know? No more than a
dozen, I guess. There are of course exceptions among the faculty members
and students inthe departments of Sinology who surely know more. How
come it is so? Inmy opinion, it is mainly due to the fact that China has
been in a passiveposition or "under attack" since the advent of the
modern era, thus bearinga kind of eagerness to look into and learn from
the West. In contrast, theWest has been in an active position, having
far less need to know Chinabecause her existence would matter little to
the Western mentality in thepast century or so. Such a situation
corresponds more or less to that in the18th century when China assumed
herself to be the center of the world and felt no need to take any look
at the West.
Table of Contents
Preface Li Zehou
Section I Nature and Human Existence
1 A Rediscovery of Heaven-and-Human Oneness
The Three-fold Significance
The Two-dimensional Orientation
A Pragmatic Alternative

2 Laozi on the Dao of Human Existence
Frame of Reference: The Dao of Man, Heaven and the Sage
PursuiL of Sageliness: Practical and Sagely Wisdom
Path to Freedom: Attitudes toward Life and Death

3 Zhuangzi's Way of Thinking through Fables
The Peng and Happy Excursion to the Infinite
The Butterfly and Self-emancipation

4 Poetic Wisdom in Zen Enlightenment
Revelations from Natural Scenes
Natural Spontaneity as a Psychical Path
A Poetic Way of Zen Enlightenment
The Realm of SEInyat~ as Beauty
Section II Harmony, Governance, and Warfare

5 Harmonization without Being Patternized
The Meeting of East and West as a Good-natured Hypothesis
Harmony and Uniformity in PerspectiveThe Need of a New PhitosoplTos Poiesis

6 Humane Governance and Pragmatic Reasori
Rule of Law as the Fundamental Basis
Wise Leadership of Crucial Necessity
The Pragmatic Reason in Question

7 No More Hiroshimas and Sharp Weapons
A Poetic Reflection after Hiroshima
A Philosophical Pondering over Sharp Weapons
Section III Morality, Art, and Aesthetics

8 Confucius' Expectation of Poetry
Poetry as a Social Discourse Sui Generis
Poetry as an Aesthetic Discourse Sui Generis
Poetry as a Moral Discourse Sui Generis

9 Aesthetic Criticism of Transculturality
Beyond East and West: A Transcultural Transformation
Aesthetic Education as a Critical Necessity (Meiyu Shuo)
Art as a Refuge from Suffering (Jietuo Shuo)
Art as Aesthetic Play for Freedom ( Youxi Shuo)
The Artist as Creative Genius ( Tiancai Shuo)
The Refined as the Second Form (Guya Shuo)
The Theory of Poetic State par Excellence ( Jing]ie Shuo )

10 The Theory of Art as Sedimentation
Art as Sedimentation
A Critical Consideration
A Methodological Reflection

11 Appreciating Nature in View of Practical Aesthetics
Three Levels of Aesthetic Experience
Aesthetic Effects of Heaven-and-Human Oneness
Selected Bibliography
Sample Pages Preview
With respect to Chinese philosophy and religion, it cannot do withoutreference to Zen Buddhism. As for its position and function in Chineseideology, Zen Buddhism straddles two provinces; it is both a religion anda philosophy. Under certain circumstances, it is a philosophy rather than areligion, owing to its being a study of the wisdom of human existence.Such wisdom is usually contained in poetic imagery or allegorical symbolisms.It is essentially oriented towards spiritual emancipation or liberation. It isexercised through such approaches as self-control, self-concentration and self-enlightenment, thus helping people awaken and transcend the formidablegap between reality and ideality on the one hand, and on the other,leading people to face anxieties and frustrations with ease. It pertains to apsychological balance and joy out of the so-called " bitter sea ofboundlessness" (ku hal wu bian). Eventually, it enables people to enterinto the kingdom of Zen or dhyana delight, where the human mind isassumed to be intrinsically purified, peacefully settled, and genuinelypleased.

It is noteworthy that Zen Buddhism as a special form of wisdom stressesmainly these two factors: apprehension and action. The former is achievedvia deep contemplation and high awareness, and the latter is actualizedthrough personal engagement and praxis. All of this is somewhatapproximating the Greek conception of sophia as wisdom in the theoreticaland practical sense aforementioned. However, it is in striking contrast toany religious cults that favor philo-logos, a love of words rather than philo-praxis, a love of action. This being the case, anyone who is serious aboutthe cultivation of dhyana or Zen enlightenment is not supposed to be achatter-box, ready to recite doctrines from scriptures or canons. Instead,he devotes himself to insightful understanding and constant praxis so as tostay carefree and transcendent in the mentality of absolute freedom.

Chinese Way of Thinking