Taijiquan Lun

Postby JerryKarin » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:41 pm

Yeah, I know all the commentators take it as 4 separate parts. And yet this is pretty clearly an archaic phraseology and likely an old fragment. I strongly suspect that originally this was two matched phrases in the structure I described. There is also a faint suspicion that the text has gotten corrupted here.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:12 am

弥 is frequently seen in classical Chinese in the role I described earlier.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:20 pm

Hi Jerry,

I think the telling factor is the fact that each of the four sentences contains the if/then marker “ze.” That pretty clearly establishes the syntax of each sentence as a discrete topic-comment statement, and seems to make the “yue duo yue hao” type of construction across topics inapplicable here.

I did a bit of searching, and found some examples of mi that accord with the pattern you describe, but I also found cases where mi appears simply as an intensifier—more, very—but without the implied “yue duo yue hao” relationship. For example, in section 10 of the “Nothing Indecorous” chapter of the Xunzi, see the line Knoblock translates, “Hence by holding on to what is very [mi] small, he can undertake tasks that are extremely [mi] large, just as with a short ruler only five inches long one can measure the whole square of the world.”—Knoblock, Xunzi, Vol. 1, p. 179. See the text here:
http://chinese.dsturgeon.net/text.pl?node=12245&if=en&searchu=%E5%BD%8C

Again, this is very similar to the use of “mi” in the Analects line which the Taijiquan Lun quotes in this section. Moreover, reading the sentences as four independent statements makes logical sense. To my mind, it’s a coherent set of statements about evading and adhering with an opponent or partner.

Still, I'm open to persuasion.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:26 pm

Jerry,

Another handy link: http://chinese.dsturgeon.net/dictionary.pl?if=en&char=%E5%BD%8C

Includes a nice example from the Daodejing Ch. 47 that does indeed use the pattern you mention.

--Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 10-25-2008).]

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 10-25-2008).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:46 pm

Hi Louis. I think the 4 separate phrases is now the standard explanation. However, if you really look at this text I think there is more than a hint of something wrong here. It does not entirely make sense as is, particularly the first phrase. The use of yang zhi .. mi gao looks like the Analects but is actually not similar in meaning at all. We have two sets of parallel phrases:

....mi.... , ..... mi .........
....yu....., ......yu .........

They are not mixed: ...mi..., ....yu....

Later on another line uses this yu.... yu.... structure.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:55 pm

I would say that the Xunzi example 故操彌約,而事彌大 actually does follow the pattern, ie 'the more limited his management, the greater his accomplishments'.

The 则 here strikes me as idiomatic. I think I have seen something similar to this before embedded into another structure.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 10-25-2008).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:16 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
I would say that the Xunzi example ŒÌ‘€œ\–ñCŽ§Ž–œ\‘å actually does follow the pattern, ie 'the more limited his management, the greater his accomplishments'. .snip</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jerry,

That interpretation would work if Xunzi were a Daoist (!), but he wasn't. It wouldn't work in the context of the whole passage, which begins, "The gentleman, though he occupies an eminent position, is repectful in his disposition because he realizes that the mind is small but the Way is great."

Needless to say, Xunzi wasn't saying, "the smaller the mind, the greater the Way."

Interesting discussion, in any case.

--Louis



[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 10-25-2008).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:06 am

Louis, I think perhaps you are mistaken. go back and read the whole passage in the original.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 10-26-2008).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:05 pm

Greetings Jerry,

We can disagree on this Xunzi passage. I did read it closely the first time, and upon rereading it, I agree with Knoblock’s translation of the line, and with how he interprets ‘mi’. I might render yue as “meager” or “constrained,” rather than “small,” but I think he has the sense of it right. The ‘er’ particle helps to clarify, carrying a force of “and yet,” “then,” or “but,” and diffusing the possibility of reading it the way you suggest. Xunzi argues for a very specific role for the gentleman and for the mind/heart. He is guided by adherence to ritual, precedent, humanity and justice. One man’s “grasp” of the method that aligns him with the way is very important, however meager and constrained it may be. Xunzi was a very logical thinker, and would have been alert to the fallacy of suggesting that 'the more limited his management, the greater his accomplishments,' for that would lead to the conclusion that no management at all would lead to still greater accomplishment. Xunzi would not have advocated letting go one’s grasp.

Knoblock, who probably understood Xunzi better than most, points out that Xunzi was critical of daoist thinkers, but often appropriated their technical language in application to his concept of the gentleman. In fact, the passage we’re discussing alludes to the very chapter of the Daodejing that contains the line, “The farther one sets out from the house, the less one knows.” (qi chu mi yuan, qi zhi mi shao)

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:22 am

OK well now that we've hammered those lines into pieces and hammered the pieces into pieces, along with interesting side trips to Lunyu and Xunzi, time to move on to next lines:

15. 英雄所向无敌,盖皆由此而及也。
16. 斯技旁门甚多,虽势有区别,概不外,
17. 壮欺弱,慢让快耳。有力打无力,
18. 手慢让手快,是皆先天自然之能,
19. 非关学力而有为 也。

Some of this is familiar ground, we've already discussed 17-19.
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Postby Phocion » Sat Nov 01, 2008 11:12 pm

What? Is it my turn, again?

Taking this one line at a time:

15. This is to be a brave hero facing no enemies. To be able to do all this therefore, is to become a hero!

I frankly admit to guessing at the last half of the line. I could make no sense out of gai jie, but it seemed, somehow, to be summing up what had gone before. If someone can explain the last half of 15 to me in "Baby's First Book of Taiji Classics" style, I'd appreciate it.

Cheers!

Dave
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Nov 02, 2008 12:35 am

Those heros without peer have probably all gotten to it by this route.

Gai 'presumably', jie 'in all cases' .
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Nov 02, 2008 12:50 am

Greetings Dave,

Jerry beat me to it, and his rendering is right on target.

In Mandarin, gai means “to cover,” but in classical or literary Chinese it is an introductory particle, often for a summarizing phrase. It can mean something like “perhaps,” or “no doubt, or “in fact.” Here, it could be read in a sort of subjunctive voice: “To be a matchless hero, would it not all come from this?” Or, “Does it not all come from this?”

As for the jie following gai, it could be meant to pluralize “heroes.” In that case, it might read loosely, “All matchless heroes become so by means of this” (that is, the body of principles put forth in the preceding lines). I kind of prefer rendering it as a single hero, as the image of a bunch of matchless heroes is kind of comical, reminiscent of the guy who sold swords that could pierce anything, and shields that could not be pierced by anything.

Other thoughts?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:57 am

Even if you took peerless heroes literally and not as hyperbole, there would presumably stretch out over history a sequence of such heroes, each being replaced as he got too old, or something...

In modern English, the phrase
英雄所向无敌
would sound like 'martial arts greats' or 'the greatest fighters'.

[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 11-02-2008).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:31 am

Now in these next lines the essay sort of sets up a straw dog which it will knock down: strength defeats weakness, fast beats slow, etc, and that these are all natural abilities and not learned skills. Having enumerated a series of these generalities, it says

察四两拨千斤之句,显非力胜;

'but if you scrutinize the maxim about 4 ounces deflecting a thousand jin, it's clearly not that strength wins'.
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