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A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Interpretation Paperback – August 17, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0195134193 ISBN-10: 0195134192

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195134192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195134193
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.3 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,380,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Hansen contributes a much-needed re-assessment of Chinese philosophy....Hansen is refreshingly revisionist as his hermeneutic lays waste to such misconceptions as "THE Tao," transcendence, and unsayableness associated with dao-ism, as well as fundamental misconceptions about Chinese language and thought....His twin fortes are an almost surgical, positivist linguistic precision, cutting away at fat and exposing the bare bones, plus a holistic approach....Overall, the author's polysemous grasp of Chinese history makes his magnum opus an interdisciplinary resource, sure to be of interest to all students and scholars of comparative literature, philosophy/religion, and intellectual history."--China News Digest


"The time is ripe for this sort of wide-ranging reappraisal. I believe the book will be a major factor in setting the tone and parameters of the debate for the next decade."--Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania


"Hansen's book is challenging and engages the reader in a direct and personal way. In addition to language and skepticism there are many topics woven into the fabric of the book which will also engage the reader."--Canadian Philosophical Reviews


"A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought is a bold book by an intellectually ambitious and always original author."--Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies


About the Author

Chad D. Hansen is at University of Hong Kong.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is very clearly written and sees ancient Chinese thought from a Daoist (rather than the traditional Confucian) point of view. Chad Hansen makes a detailed analysis of Confucius and Mencius though, based on their theory of language, and those chapters are exceptional too. Of course, the greatest chapter of the book is the one on Zhuangzi, that shows him to be a sophisticated thinker, having a theory of language inherited from the later Mohists that comes near in quality to Greek philosophy, although never going as far a creating a theory of reason. Highly recommended to all Daoists!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Griswold on August 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dr Hansen takes us on a whirlwind tour of Chinese language, history, and culture. His deep knowledge of ancient Chinese history and thought is breath-taking. Most refreshing is his no-nonsense approach to Chinese philosophy. He posits that there will be different possible understandings of our common human situation and, like a good literary critic(!), he allows the primary texts to suggest *in their own terms* what relevant differences exist in thinking the human.

This book will be serious brain candy to anyone who has an interest in the history of ideas, comparative religion, or intercultural philosophy.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Kelly on December 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
According to Hansen, the ancient, pre-Buddhist chinese thinkers were behaviorists in the manner of psychologist B F Skinner: they viewed human beings as black-boxes with no discernible inner life or experience. The purpose of language was similar to dog-training : put the right words in, get the right behavior out. Unfortunately, the same words didn't get the same behaviors all the time, which created a crisis, and led to debate over words and language among the Confucian, Taoist and Moh-ist etc. schools, until the game was broken up by the intrusion of Indo-European psychology from Buddhism in the early 1st millenium AD.

All of this makes a certain sense when we realize that the purpose of early Chinese philosophy was intensely political - the ultimate question of these discussions is how to rule the people, which can be likened to dog training, as it was explicitly by Plato in the Republic. A dog can be trained with rewards and punishments, or, more humanly, with words. But words are a rats-net of complexities, ambiguities, and particularly for the case here, translation difficulites. Hansen makes much of these, with ample servings of linguistics jargon.

One point which Hansen makes is that one cannot simply translate words and then make sense of sentences, since words are translated according to theories of translation, which are themselves expressed as sentences, i.e. involve more than just word definitions, so that translation is inevitably a bootstrap-like process in the midst of an already on-going discussion about the nature of language.
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A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Interpretation
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