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Download Learning to Be A Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically epub

by Hsi Chu,Daniel K. Gardner

Students and teachers of Chinese history and philosophy will not want to miss Daniel Gardner's accessible translation of the teachings of Chu Hsi (1130-1200)—a luminary of the Confucian tradition who dominated Chinese intellectual life for centuries. Homing in on a primary concern of our own time, Gardner focuses on Chu Hsi's passionate interest in education and its importance to individual development.For hundreds of years, every literate person in China was familiar with Chu Hsi's teachings. They informed the curricula of private academies and public schools and became the basis of the state's prestigious civil service examinations. Nor was Chu's influence limited to China. In Korea and Japan as well, his teachings defined the terms of scholarly debate and served as the foundation for state ideology.Chu Hsi was convinced that through education anyone could learn to be fully moral and thus travel the road to sagehood. Throughout his life, he struggled with the philosophical questions underlying education: What should people learn? How should they go about learning? What enables them to learn? What are the aims and the effects of learning?Part One of Learning to Be a Sage examines Chu Hsi's views on learning and how he arrived at them. Part Two presents a translation of the chapters devoted to learning in the Conversations of Master Chu.
Download Learning to Be A Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically epub
ISBN: 0520065255
ISBN13: 978-0520065253
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Hsi Chu,Daniel K. Gardner
Language: English
Publisher: University of California Press (March 13, 1990)
Pages: 218 pages
ePUB size: 1275 kb
FB2 size: 1313 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 494
Other Formats: lrf rtf doc mobi

Gardner is an excellent scholar of Neo-Confucianism, no question about that. This book is intended to give English speaking students of the tradition an important work of Chu Hsi in an accessible format. His introduction is excellent and background material orients the student to the tradition very effectively. He gives context to the rise of Neo-Confucianism and the primary concerns of Chu Hsi.

What is not helpful is the way Gardner handles the translation of Chinese philosophical terms. A simple example is Ch'eng, which has been translated as 'sincerity' for decades. This becomes 'truthfulness' with Gardner. Fine, I can probably figure it out, the meanings are not too far apart. But if I am reading pretty much any translation of Confucius or another work of Chu Hsi such as Chan's excellent Reflections on Things at Hand then I may not realize that truthfulness and sincerity are the same term. I will have to avail myself of glossary, find the Chinese character and compare it to Gardner's usage. There is nothing obvious here; Gardner has changed the menu without warning.

It gets worse. Ching, 'seriousness' becomes 'inner mental attentiveness.' It is hard to be more awkward than that. It is also difficult for the student to realize that 'inner mental attentiveness' is actually a single, multivalent term in Chinese thought when it becomes a clumsy English phrase. It tastes metallic and makes the fillings hurt. A glossary could have made all of this clear. Or an essay on Chinese philosophical terms. The frosting on this particular mess is Gardner's translation of Ch'i (Qi). For generations it has been presented as . . . Ch'i. We get it. This is a complex term with multiple meanings changing over centuries of Chinese thought. Just give us a footnote. What Gardner gives us instead is: Psycophysical Stuff. This is not even bad English, this is New Age babble braised in one of the emptiest terms the language has to offer. This is a real disservice to the reader. How can I read any other Chinese thinker and orient myself that this is the same term? It is almost as if Gardner is trying to show his chops as a scholar: These terms have Meaning that previous translations have not got right and I am going to make you learn what they mean. Those are concerns for an essay or a journal article. This is a book for a general audience that would like to get to know the tradition, not get creamed in a food fight; that community of learners could be served better.
The added explanations from the author make this book a lot easier to understand.
This extract - admittedly a small fraction of a huge body of work - defines a course of education. More than that, it defines a course of learning, the goals and practices that separate a dilettante from the truly educated man. (Yes, man, but that was then.)

Although repetitive enough to tax one's patience, it emphasizes a few central themes. Centrally, this demands intimate, personal familiarity with the handful of texts that defined the core canon, including the Analects, Mencius, and a scant handful of others. As with most of this prescription, I can agree only to a point,. Yes, facility with core material practically defines fluent use of the knowledge. I stop short of Hsi Chu's tendency toward rote memorization. One of my students some years back seemed to follow that practice - to the point that almost every online conversation contribution was plagiarized. "The Book," seemingly any book with adequate pedigree, trumped the original analysis the class encouraged.

The other core premise of Chu's program lay not in mere learning, but in personal transformation. (I've seen this in modern technical texts, and came away repulsed.) I can't be sure, but this could be an attempt to resolve Taoism's notion of The Way with conformance to Confucian rectitude and obedience to tradition. Parts of Chu's work sounded to me beyond learning and memorization, but approached indoctrination or brainwashing.

Still, one of Chu's policies resonates now, nine hundred years later. He excoriated "teaching to the test," (though not in those exact words) much as we do today. Our criticism bemoans the opportunity cost of not teaching more broadly in order to teach the right answer. His bemoans the ability to spout back upon demand vs. digesting knowledge into wisdom. Perhaps underlying objections differ (or perhaps don't), but the 'teach to the test' objection remains.

In part, I picked this for its bibliography. Much is new to me, as I hoped. Much is old, though, like the frequent references to Legge. Well, I can read around that and choose between references,

On the whole: a wide-ranging study of people and places Don't drink the Kool-Aid here and you'll do fine.

-- wiredweird
Chu Hsi (pronounced like "jew shee") is almost unknown in the West. However, he is widely recognized in East Asia as one of the most brilliant and influential Confucian philosophers of all time. Chu Hsi's interpretation of Confucianism became the basis of the civil service examinations in China in the early 14th century A.D., and remained so until the examinations were abolished in the early 20th century. Consequently, generations of intellectuals memorized Chu Hsi's views.
Gardner has done a terrific job translating selections from "The Conversations of Master Chu, Topically Arranged," a collection of Chu Hsi's sayings recorded and organized by his disciples. Gardner has translated a part of the massive "Conversations" dealing with methods of ethical cultivation. Gardner supplements these selections with excerpts from Chu Hsi's metaphysical comments. This is very helpful, since Chu Hsi's views on cultivation are connected to his metaphysical views. Gardner is a well respected scholar of Chu Hsi, and his introduction helps situate Master Chu historically.
People who are interested in Chinese philosophy usually go to the obvious places: the sayings of Confucius, the Tao Te Ching, or the Yi Ching. Why not read something by a figure as influential as Confucius, but less well known, and perhaps more accessible?