Qi Experience

Postby JerryKarin » Thu Dec 04, 2003 9:36 pm

I like the Yijing too. If you think the English lit on this subject is vast, check out the Chinese commentaries that have been done over the last few thousand years. There are thousands! I believe it is the most commentaried book in existence. The Mawandui edition is a silk manuscript found in a tomb which was sealed up prior to 200 BC. My (unfinshed) dissertation dealt with another book found in the same box. I visited the site, near Changsha, and saw some of the manuscripts in 1982. Most of the English versions, including the newer ones, are pretty bad.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Dec 04, 2003 10:56 pm

Hi Jerry,

You’re right, of course, about the vast Chinese writings on the Yi. I think perhaps that writing commentaries on the Yijing was a sort of cottage industry for retired officials in imperial China! Maybe that’s because of the belief that Confucius expressed a desire to spend the rest of his life studying the book. Of course, that belief is based on a reading of a line in the Analects that may have nothing to do with the Yijing at all.

Do you think the quality of the English Mawangdui renderings suffer on their own merits, or because of over dependence on the published transcriptions of modern Chinese scholars, or what? It seems some of the better Western scholars will consult the transcriptions, but approach them critically. (For those who may wonder what I’m referring to, the graphs in the silk manuscripts are often non-standard graphs, lost early forms, scribal errors, homophonic substitutions, etc. Individual scholars or committees of scholars have transcribed most of the manuscripts into modern Chinese characters, but there’s far from universal agreement on their judgments.)

Jerry, what’s your opinion of Henricks’ translation of the MWD Laozi? Also, have you read Donald Harper’s _Early Chinese Medical Literature (Kegan Paul, 1997)? This is his translation of seven medical texts uncovered at Mawangdui, the earliest original medical texts ever found. I was able to find a deal on a used copy (it’s almost $300 new!), and I’m impressed with the sections I’ve read.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:59 pm

Greetings Louis,

I got about 50 pages into Rutt's translation/study before the Holidays and I find that the information is very interesting but his interpretation is appalling.

If he was writing about glasses he might have written, "How can they correct vision as is claimed?"

"All that these lenses do is make things look a different size that what they really are. They are inert and do nothing."

"It is said that Kung Fu Dude wore spectacles, but I don't believe it. Any references that he made to being able to see more clearly are clearly metaphorical"

"We have two accounts of people demonstrating starting fires with them for the royal court. Therefore the lenses were used solely to light fires."

"Any claims that people used spectacles to correct vision long ago should be disregarded and not be taken seriously, because there are no written accounts from that time. Even though there were book burnings one must conclude that there were no such references."

"...and the fact that others since then have claimed that they used these devices to correct their vision, there is no way that this was their original use so such tales should be discounted."

In my opinion this fellow is the worst kind of researcher.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 12-31-2003).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jan 03, 2004 1:34 am

Hi David,

Since your objection to Rutt’s research is expressed in parodies of arguments he has allegedly advanced, I’ll have to say that you have a much better idea of what you are parodying than I do, so I’m at a disadvantage here.

I’ll just say that the proper task of hermenueutics and evidential research is to determine what the evidence says about the original meaning of a text in the time and circumstances under which it was written. Other traditions and meanings certainly develop over time, and under different circumstances. Quite often, the mistake is to take the later meanings to have been the original meanings.

What would the best kind of researcher do, in your view?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jan 07, 2004 2:16 am

Greetings Luois,

I expressed some objections to Rutt?s writing in parodies of arguments he has advanced, to save me the effort of going through it laboriously bit by bit.

And I thought you would like the parodies.

I just spent a few hours writing out specific objections, and decided that I really didn't want to spend my time correcting such blatant bias.

You wrote, > I?ll have to say that you have a much better idea of what you are parodying than I do, so I?m at a disadvantage here. <

I'm sorry. I assumed that you had read the book.

> I?ll just say that the proper task of hermenueutics and evidential research is to determine what the evidence says about the original meaning of a text in the time and circumstances under which it was written. <

Certainly that's a good way to go about it. Too bad he doesn't do that. I see Rutt playing at this, but failing to keep on track. Richard Wilhelm did a much better job, and he did it without pretense. There are so many flaws in Rutt's work it is irritating.

> Other traditions and meanings certainly develop over time, and under different circumstances. Quite often, the mistake is to take the later meanings to have been the original meanings. <

Yes that mistake can be made. In this sense context is everything, and Rutt should embrace what he has rather than skew the context of things to fit his ideas.

From his is opening line in the preface and onward from there Rutt makes it sound like Richard Wilhelm was ignorant of the multiple eras of the I Ching. He takes Wilhelm's quote out of context. This is a no-no for competent researchers.

Also some of those later traditions were right about the earlier times and should not be dissmissed out of hand.

> What would the best kind of researcher do, in your view? <

An example: a good researcher is careful in the differentiation of fact and theory; he or she can look at all the evidence, and in putting forth an opinion say "This is what I surmise" rather than say, "This is the way it was..." with little care for things other than pet theories.

Regards,

David J
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jan 11, 2004 11:30 pm

Hi David,

~~Re: You [Louis] wrote, > I’ll have to say that you have a much better idea of what you are parodying than I do, so I’m at a disadvantage here. <
[David]: I'm sorry. I assumed that you had read the book.~~

What I meant was, I don't know the specific arguments your eyeglass parodies were meant to represent, nor can I divine what flaws you're objecting to.

I wouldn't say I agree with all of Rutt's conclusions or interpretations, and I usually don't let disagreement keep me from learning something. Much of his presentation does make sense to me, however. When I was a grad student, I had the opportunity, in a small seminar with Professor David Keightley, to work with some original sources from the Zhou dynasty (bronze inscriptions), and from the Shang dynasty that preceeded it (oracle bone inscriptions). These sources, because of the rarity of these early (sometimes the earliest) forms of Chinese writing, require very meticulous work in specialized reference materials, catalogues, comparative lists, and tables of characters. (Rutt touches briefly on the continuities between Shang and Zhou divinatory methods on pp. 135, 148.) Once you gain a passing familiarity with the kinds of concerns that preoccupied the figures who were responsible for these early writings, it helps one gain an understanding and appreciation for the sort of thing Rutt has done in trying to read the Zhouyi from the Zhou context.

I think it’s also important to point out that Rutt hasn’t struck out on his own in his investigations into the original meanings of the Zhouyi. Many Chinese thinkers from as early as the Ming period began to look skeptically on received understandings of the Yijing. Later, the rigorous methods of the Qing dynasty movement know as “kaozheng” (evidential research) cast even further doubt on traditional assumptions. A major influence on modern Chinese historical scholarship was the gushibian movement (critiques of ancient history) spearheaded by the scholar Gu Jiegang (Ku Chieh-kang, 1893-1980). Gu criticized what he called the Golden Age of Chinese antiquity, a semi-mythical time in which various sages were believed to have invented the essential foundations of China’s great tradition. Gu took particular aim at the Yijing (again, the Yijing should be distinguished from the earlier core text, the Zhouyi), which systemized and essentialized this vision of sage beginnings.

So Rutt’s Zhouyi study/translation builds upon earlier and ongoing scholarship, what Edward Shaughnessy calls the work of “context criticism.”

Take care,
Louis

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 01-11-2004).]
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Jan 14, 2004 9:30 pm

Greetings Louis,

I decided to go parody by parody:

If he was writing about glasses he might have written, "How can they correct vision as is claimed?"

"All that these lenses do is make things look a different size that what they really are. They are inert and do nothing."

Page 51: as part of his argument that there is no spiritual content to Zhouyi, > Indeed the treatise expressly disclaims any spirituality for Zhouhi. 'Yi had no thought, no action. It is inert and motionless.' <
Others, I believe, have noted that the book didn't have to "do" anything to be effective, this aspect being a reflection of the Dao. Rutt seems to take it to mean just the opposite.

"It is said that Kung Fu Dude wore spectacles, but I don't believe it. Any references that he made to being able to see more clearly are clearly metaphorical"

Pages 44, 45: Rutt supposedly countering an argument that Confucius had anything to do with the book, > Though some have discerned a theory of change in a remark he made while standing by a riverside, 'What passes away is like this stream, day and night there is no break.' (Analects ix. 16.) he was reflecting on the passage of time, not cosmology. <
He states that as though he, and only he, could possible know what Confucius meant. What hubris!

"We have two accounts of people demonstrating starting fires with them for the royal court. Therefore the lenses were used solely to light fires."

Page 22, > Zhouyi is a manual of yarrow wand divination. <

Page 29: > The King Wen legend implies that Zhouyi was a book of Royal use. This may well be true. Divination was primarily a royal function in Shang times; in Early Zhou it was, if not a royal perogative, at least a ruler's function. [snip] <

His opinion of "Divination only/written in Zhou times," persists even though the oldest known copies of Zhouyi either include the Ten Wings or bear evidence of being written in Shang times which he actually mentions on pages 37, 38 and 39.

"Any claims that people used spectacles to correct vision long ago should be disregarded and not be taken seriously, because there are no written accounts from that time. Even though there were book burnings one must conclude that there were no such references."

Rutt notes on page 35 that there were massive book burnings during the Qin dynasty and that Confucian texts were particularly targeted. Yet he is out to prove that Confucius had nothing to do with the Zhouyi or the Ten Wings, even though evidence was *likely* to have been burned.
He concludes that since Royal copies of Zhouyi (which were apparently divination copies) survived the book burnings that it would not have survived if it was considered a Confucian classic. > The emperor considered divination manuals were useful, as were works on medicine and agriculture; furthermore, Zhouyi was not then considered a Confucian work. < What a joke: someone sneaks something by an idiot of an Emperor so therefore what the Emperor thought about the book was obviously the only thing true about it.

At one point he does say that one can't conclude one way or the other. But on page 34 gives his "reason" that it was "unlikely" that Confucius had even know about it: Rutt claims there was only one copy, or only a few copies, at the time!
This is scholarship?

Page 28: Concerning trigrams coming before hexagrams: > As we shall see later, this theory is contestable. Although it has persisted in China, it is a fallacious a priori argument for which there is no evidence. <
There may have been evidence, but it was mislaid, lost or burned. Claiming the argument was fallacious is inaccurate. Suspecting that the argument is inaccurate is something else. In the absence of "evidence" (he's certainly not going to take the word of those who were there!) one cannot conclude either way. His statement is false.
Besides, Hexagram 27 in his own translation of Zhouyi, as well as the Mawangdui silks, gives evidence of the consideration of trigrams.

"...and the fact that others since then have claimed that they used these devices to correct their vision, there is no way that this was their original use so such tales should be discounted."

Page 28: He tries to makes an argument that the Ten Wings add a layer to Zhouyi that had nothing to do with it initially (which is pure conjecture on his part). He dismisses the Ten Wings as having anything accurate to say about Zhouyi's origins, but jumps on the Eighth Wing as refuting Fu Hsi's connection. The Eight Wing does nothing of the sort, but I'm pointing out his dismissal of material that doesn't align with his theories, but accepting part of the same material when it seems to align with his theories. This is very poor!

It's as though he is unaware that the I Ching went through alternating eras of divination and scholarship. Yes, Zhoughyi may well reflext life in the times of Westerm Zhou but there is never any thought to the idea that the text was adapted to that time, or updated.

Page 34: He even notes that there was a popular saying, > 'They do not simply read omens.' < Yet he insists that that was all they did!

I think that there's a lot of interesting material in his book, it's his opinions, which are given as though they were facts, that I'm complaining about. He is inconsistant and often illogical.

There are passages where what he says is reasonable, but it looks like he didn't go back over the whole of what he wrote well enough to reconcile his opinion from one part to another.

I very much like new information and insights throwing light on ancient artefacts, but often he seems to be throwing unnecessary darkness on them.

Thanks,

David J

Page references from "Zhouyi" translation by Richard Rutt, Curzon ISBN 0-7007-1491-X
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Postby DavidJ » Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:40 am

Greetings Louis,

Considering the implications of numerous homonyms I thought that it might be interesting to have a translation of Zhouyi in Cockney rhyming slang.

Suppose you were a scholar having a good copy of Zhouyi. You get wind that there will be book burning. You look for a way to preserve the knowledge in the book - what can you do?

You decide to go through the treasured work and substitute homonyms and other expressions for the real terms and make it into a game for the ruler.

You could even write a song or two which hints at or directly tells how to change it back.

After the ruler is gone you can put it all right again, if you outlive him.

Just a thought.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 01-16-2004).]

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 01-16-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Jan 25, 2004 1:59 am

Greetings David,

Thank you for the elaboration and perspectives on this. I can better understand now what your objections are. I think you and I have arrived at different conclusions about Rutt’s scholarly objectives, and about how careful and thorough his methodology is. I could take issue with a number of your characterizations here. For example, the evidence for the Ten Wings as being an “added layer” on the core Zhouyi text is philological, and has been fairly widely agreed upon for some years. The language of the Zhouyi is identifiable with a particular historical period, and this can be corroborated in studying ritual Western Zhou bronze inscriptions, where there are clear similarities of content and grammar. The language of the Ten Wings materials, on the other hand, is both internally diverse in grammar and content, and as a body identifiable as language of a much later period (or periods) than that of the Zhouyi. I wasn’t able to confirm your remark that Rutt claims the Ten Wings to have “had nothing to do with [Zhouyi] initially,” although I think he does argue that the authors of the Ten Wings materials didn’t have perfect understandings of the language usage in the core text. Most modern scholars have been in agreement on these points for some years.

The whole issue of whether the Zhouyi was always a “wisdom text,” or rather was recast as one in the early Han is a more difficult case to make beyond a shadow of a doubt. The Ten Wings material is diverse, likely assembled in increments. Herrlee Creel wrote that the Ten Wings “were produced long after the Western Chou period. . .” (The Origins of Statecraft in China, 1970, Univ. of Chicago Press, p. 445) Angus Graham wrote that the original Zhouyi “is a manual of divination without philosophical relevance,” and concluded, “Most or all of the appendices called the ‘Ten Wings’, which relate the diagrams to cosmology, later to be ascribed to Confucius himself, may be dated within a few decades on either side of 200 B.C.” (Disputers of the Tao, Open Court, 1989, p. 359) Feng Yulan (Fung Yu-lan), writing in his 1931 History of Chinese Philosophy, said, “The I Ching (Book of Changes) was first of all a book of divination.” (Vol. I, trans., Derk Bodde, Princeton, 1952, p. 379) He writes further: “That these ‘Ten Wings’ or Appendices could never have been written by Confucius, has already been made clear both by past and contemporary scholars.” (Ibid., p. 381. Feng cites, among others, the eleventh century scholar O-yang Xiu, and the the modern scholar I mentioned above, Gu Jiegang.

That the Yijing (as distinct from the core Zhouyi) became a “wisdom text” is beyond question. One modern scholar of Chinese philosophy, Chung-ying Cheng, even identifies a whole strain of early Chinese cosmological thinking as “The Yizhuan Theory of Reality” (Yizhuan referring to the commentaries—zhuan, i.e., the Ten Wings—of the Yijing.). The Xicizhuan (Appended Remarks—what Wilhelm calls “The Great Treatise”) is an incredibly rich and evocative text, synthesizing many early ruist (Confucian) and daoist ideas. When most people quote the Yijing, nine times out of ten, it’s the Xicizhuan that they’re actually quoting. Zheng Manqing was particularly inclined to quote and make allusions to this text in his taiji writings.

So again, I just want to point out that Rutt has not struck out on his own in some unfounded conjecture, nor is he out to dismantle the great tradition of the well-established post-Han classic Yijing. He is building upon a substantial body of scholarship that began well before him, whose aim is to better understand the nature of the source text in its pristine setting, to the degree that may be possible.

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 01-24-2004).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:15 am

Much of the core Zhouyi is rhymed. Rhyming worked differently in different time periods. A surprising amount of information can be learned by studying the rhymes. As Louis notes, there is quite broad agreement among scholars that the language of the core text is a different stratum than the 10 wings. This is no longer a point of controversy.
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:13 pm

Greeting Louis,

I appreciate your responses, but I think there's misunderstanding here. I will try to clairfy.

You wrote, > For example, the evidence for the Ten Wings as being an ?added layer? on the core Zhouyi text is philological, and has been fairly widely agreed upon for some years. <

I agree that the versions of both Zhouyi and the Ten Wings that are available do have "trademarks" of particular times and climes. The language of those particular copies of Zhouyi and the Ten Wings may be identifiable with particular historical periods, but Rutt's conclusions about what came before is biased conjecture. Whether the Ten Wings is an "added layer" or not cannot be told unless you have the original of both of them - neither of which is available.

Rutt assumes that the text of the gua and the lines were all taken from sooth sayers of the time. This is like saying that all Shakespeare did was string together cliches.

I have no problem with the fact that the language of the core text is a different stratum than the 10 wings. None at all. It's the conclusions he draws that I have trouble with. That the Zhouyi came first is probable, but I think that copies of it, as well as the Ten Wings and other commentaries, were all retranslated or rebuilt.

Do we have a copy of the Ten Wings from Confucius' time or earlier? No, we don't. And conclusions, based upon much later versions, are conjecture.

If the gua originated, and scholary commentary grew, in Fu Hsi's time, as lore has it, there is a great expanse of time before any surviving stuff was recorded. There are several indications, like the Eighth Wing, which point to a comprehensive microcosm being the original intent of the whole. That it was passed down orally is part of the lore. That it went through alternating times of major usage as a) merely a sham fortune-telling device, and b) a genuine attempt to place man in nature, is also in the lore.

I guess I have to make clear that I appreciate the analysis of the language used in the surviving forms. What I am disagreeing with is the outright dismissal of the real possibilites present in the oral tradition, and his ironclad conclusions. If the Ten Wings was reconstruced from a strong oral tradition, as the lore claims, then his dismissal of that is opinion and nothing more. If he does argue that the authors of the Ten Wings materials didn't have perfect understandings of the language usage in the core text, he is assuming that they were using copies of a core text which of he knows. Since we don't know for sure what copy of Zhouyi was available at the time of this reconstruction we can't conclude that either.

Regards,

David J


[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 01-27-2004).]
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Postby Michael » Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:16 am

nothin' here

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 01-28-2004).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:15 am

Greetings David,

You’ve kind of touched on the crux of it. Scholarship evaluates existing sources, and proceeds from there. As for evaluating non-existent sources, I’m not aware of any methodology by which to proceed.

You’re also correct with regard to conjecture. That’s what scholars do, and also what scientists do. Scientists and scholars call their conjectures “hypotheses,” but they are every bit as provisional as conjectures and guesses. When it comes to early China, there is much that modern scholars agree upon, and much that they do not. There is necessarily a great deal of interpretation of the surviving sources and material objects. No one seems to have disproved Han historian Sima Qian’s assertion that verifiable annual records of history begin with the year 841 B.C. Controversies still exist about the beginning date of the Zhou dynasty (1100 B.C., 1122 B.C.?). Arguments for various dating frameworks find support in various texts, chronicles, artifacts, astronomy (because of textual references to astronomical phenomena such as eclipses), and philological study. The work involved resembles a sort of multifaceted triangulation of diverse sets of data. The conclusions are inevitably opinions, and the quality or believability of the opinions rests on how well informed and how well crafted they are.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:18 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DavidJ:
<B>
Do we have a copy of the Ten Wings from Confucius' time or earlier? No, we don't. And conclusions, based upon much later versions, are conjecture.

</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The problem is the theory that there was an earlier version of the 10 wings which was 'translated' into a later Chinese language is also conjecture. Unfortunately for this theory there is less support for such a 'translation' than there is for accepting dating based on internal evidence in the text, which would be a simpler explanation. The process almost always works the other way, where later works are attributed to an earlier time, antiquity conferring authenticity in Chinese culture. Though classic texts have undergone some change over time, as we can see from texts where versions earlier than previously known have been found recently in sealed tombs for example, the revisions tend to follow a limited number of patterns (an emperor's personal name gets changed to something else after his demise, etc) and usually don't obscure the rhyme schemes, which generally reveal the true age of the text.
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Feb 03, 2004 12:39 am

Hi Michael,

I read your post before you removed it. I may try to address your question soon.

Regards,

David
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