Sunday, October 28, 2018

[Dissertation] Divination And Deviation: The Problem Of Prediction And Personal Freedom In Early China

Author:
Yunwoo Song

School:
University of Pennsylvania

Date of Award:
2018

Abstract:

The question I address in my dissertation relates to the conundrum of the prediction of fate in early China. How did the early Chinese people predict the future, and to what degree did they believe that the predicted future is inevitable? I examine the history of divination from the Shang to the Han dynasties to show that the belief in the power of anthropomorphic spirits weakened, and the universe was gradually conceived of as working in regular cycles. The decreasing reliance on the power of spirits during the Shang period is reflected in changes in bone divination. And divination texts from the Warring States period come to describe the movements of spirits as being completely regulated by cosmic cycles. This changed conception of the universe contributed to the formation of the idea of a predetermined fate. My analysis of various philosophical literature of the Warring States period shows how the meaning of the term ming 命 changed from unpredictable events caused by superior powers to a predictable yet unalterable course of life. As a consequence of this changed meaning, Han dynasty scholars needed to address the problem of personal freedom. I show that while philosophers like Wang Chong argued for what is probably the most extreme case of fatalism in early China, many other thinkers of the time chose to believe that while there is a predetermined course of life for everyone, the course is always subject to change depending on circumstances.

The conclusion I draw from these analyses is that the idea of a completely predetermined fate did not gain wide acceptance in early China because strong fatalism conflicted with popular divination practices. Even though many acknowledged that people are born with a predetermined fate, they opted to believe that their fates could still change. Thus, various divination techniques available at the time could help them evade predicted misfortune.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Diminishing Power of Spirits in Divination – From Oracle Bone to Yarrow
Prognostications Based on Cycles
The Emergence of the Notion of Predetermined Fate
Fate and Freedom in Han Thought
Conclusion

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Early Medieval China Volume 24 (2018)



Table of Contents:

ARTICLES

Robert Joe Cutter: Gastropoetics in the Jian’an Period: Food and Memory in Early Medieval China

Robert Ford Campany: Miracle Tales as Scripture Reception: A Case Study Involving The Lotus Sutra in China, 370–750 CE

Zornica Kirkova: Sacred Mountains, Abandoned Women and Upright Officials – Facets of the Incense Burner in Early Chinese Poetry

Ignacio Villagran: “Sturdy Boulders That Protect the Realm”: Early Medieval Chinese Thinkers On Decentralized Governance.

Wicky W.K. Tse: Fabricating Legitimacy in a Peripheral Regime: Regionalism and Loyalism in the Northwestern Borderlands under the Rule of the Zhang Dynasty (301-376)

Link:
https://www.earlymedievalchinagroup.org/journal/latest-articles/

Monday, October 22, 2018

Geopolitics in Late Antiquity: The Fate of Superpowers from China to Rome

Author:
Hyun Jin Kim

Publisher: 
Routledge

Publication date:
October, 2018




Abstract:
Geopolitics in Late Antiquity explores the geopolitical revolution which shook the foundations of the ancient world, the dawning of the millennium of Inner Asian dominance and virtual monopoly of world power (with interludes) that began with the rise of the Huns and then continued under the hegemony of various other steppe peoples. Kim examines first the geopolitical situation created by the rise of Inner Asian powers, and then the reactions of the great empires of Eurasia to this geopolitical challenge.

A unique feature of this book is its in-depth analysis of the geostrategies (some successful, others misguided) adopted by China, Rome and Persia to cope with the growing Inner Asian threat. The conclusions and insights drawn from this analysis are then used to inform modern geopolitics, mainly the contest for hegemonic power between the United States and China.

Geopolitics in Late Antiquity is a crucial resource for both academic and learned general readership, who have an interest in the fate of antiquity’s superpowers and also for those engaged in current international relations policy-making, who wish to learn from historical precedents.

Table of Contents:

1 Introduction
1.1 The great geopolitical dilemma, theoretical approaches
1.2 Territorial disputes and retrenchment, the re-emergence of policymaking
1.3 Summary

2 The Geopolitical Situation: The Superpowers and the Huns
2.1 Han China and the Huns
2.2. Rome and the Huns
2.3 Sassanian Persia and the Huns

3 The Superpower Reaction
3.1 China strikes back
3.2 Rome falters
3.3 Persian Collapse

4 Conclusion: The Geostrategic Choices for the Future
China as the geopolitical equivalent of the great Turco-Mongol Empires of Eurasia
The geostrategic options for the US
Select Bibliography

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Philosophical Thought of Wang Chong

Author:
McLeod, Alexus

Publication date:
September 2018

Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan




Abstract:

This book is a study of the methodological, metaphysical, and epistemological work of the Eastern Han Dynasty period scholar Wang Chong. It presents Wang’s philosophical thought as a unique and syncretic culmination of a number of ideas developed in earlier Han and Warring States philosophy.  Wang’s philosophical methodology and his theories of truth, knowledge, and will and determinism offer solutions to a number of problems in the early Chinese tradition.  His views also have much to offer contemporary philosophy, suggesting new ways of thinking about familiar problems.  While Wang is best known as a critic and skeptic, Alexus McLeod argues that these aspects of his thought form only a part of a larger positive project, aimed at discerning truth in a variety of senses.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Wang Chong and Philosophy in Early China

Background, Writings, and Influence

Philosophical and Critical Method

Truth: Properties and Pluralism

Naturalism:

Free Will, Allotment, and Inborn Characteristics

Conclusion: The Significance of Wang Chong’s Philosophical Thought

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

[Dissertation] Cultural Encounters: Ethnic Complexity and Material Expression in Fifth-Century Pingcheng, China

Author:
ZHANG, Fan 張帆

School:
New York University

Defended:
2018

Abstract:

My dissertation focuses on art and material culture produced in the city of Pingcheng, the capital of the Northern Wei dynasty (386–535 CE) during the fifth century. A city of immigrants from diverse social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, Pingcheng was an unusually fertile land for vigorous cultural exchanges. Through investigation into material remains, from both funerary and religious contexts, and textual sources, both transmitted and excavated, my research delineate multiple ethnicity, artistic innovation, and cross-cultural interactions of Pingcheng. I adopt an interdisciplinary approach that combines art history, archaeology, and history to examine how individuals articulate their identities in a multiethnic society via various visual and material forms. Built on top of a set comprehensive archaeological data, this project highlights three tombs for in-depth case studies, including funerary portraits that display identities of the deceased, innovative burial furniture that crosses ethnic boundaries and showcases Pingcheng’s syncretism, and exotic silverwares that exemplify the intensive cultural exchange between East and Central Asia.

My dissertation challenges the Sino-centric perspective and Han/non-Han binary division. By investigating artistic productions associated with individuals, I explore the mediating role art plays in the social network and the process of identity articulation. My research situates Northern Wei art in a trans-cultural context of Eurasia by tracking movements of objects and migration of people. My emphasis on material culture also expands the scope of art historical study by including less-studied genres and experimenting with a trans-medium approach to conceptualize funerary art.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion: A History

Author:
John Lagerwey

Publisher:
Brill

Publication date:
October 2018



Abstract:

From the fifth century BC to the present and dealing with the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) as well as popular religion, this introduction to the eight-volume Early and Modern Chinese Religion explores key ideas and events in four periods of paradigm shift in the intertwined histories of Chinese religion, politics, and culture. It shows how, in the Chinese church-state, elite processes of rationalization, interiorization, and secularization are at work in every period of major change and how popular religion gradually emerges to a position of dominance by means of a long history of at once resisting, adapting to, and collaborating with elite-driven change. Topics covered include ritual, scripture, philosophy, state policy, medicine, sacred geography, gender, and the economy. 

Table of Contents:

Preface

Preliminaries

Intellectual Change in the Warring States and Han (481 BC–220 AD)

Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220–589 AD)

Religion and Thought in the Song, Jin, and Yuan (960–1368)

Structuring Values 1850–2015

By Way of Conclusion

Sunday, October 14, 2018

[Dissertation] In Tune With The Cosmos: Tuning Theory, Cosmology, And Concepts Of Sound In Early China

Author:
Noa Hegesh

School:
University of Pennsylvania

Date of Award:
2018

Abstract:

This dissertation explores tuning theories, concepts of sound, and their relation to cosmology in China between the mid-third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E. My overall argument is twofold: First, I argue that to truly understand musical thought in early China, we must realize that it was perceived as a technology. Sound and tuning, especially in a cosmological context, were often discussed in mathematical terms. Second, I argue that for the same reason, we must understand how this technology functioned not only in relation to musical performance per se, but also in what we consider today as non-musical settings, such as mathematical astronomy, the standardization of weights and measures, and divination techniques. Early Chinese authors thought about sound as resonating qi emanating from the cosmos. Its calculation, manipulation, categorization, and measuring were central to the synchronization between the human and cosmic realms.

Part one of the dissertation discusses the gradual introduction of cosmological ideas into existing musical systems around the mid-third century B.C.E. As a result, some texts began discussing sound in numerical terms, as part of theories that aimed to measure the regularities of cosmic processes. Part two explores developments in acoustics and the concept of cosmological sound, through an analysis of a case study from the Western Han: Jing Fang 京房 and his tuning theory, which divided the octave into sixty tuning standards. I also provide an annotated translation of the first section of the “Treatises on Tuning Standards and Mathematical Astronomy” (“Lüli zhi” 律歷志) in the History of the Later Han. Part Three explores the concept of imperial control in Wang Mang’s brief Xin dynasty, examining the connections between sound, metrological practices, and the ideologies and philosophies that provided cosmological meaning to metrological choices. I argue that despite the court’s rhetoric of universal standardization, anchored in the dimensions of the Huangzhong pitch pipe, in reality these acts of standardization may not have succeeded far beyond the court’s immediate sphere of influence.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Chinese Pleasure Book

Author:
Michael Nylan

Publisher: 
Zone Books

Publication date:
October 2018




Abstract:
In The Chinese Pleasure Book, Michael Nylan takes up one of the most important themes in Chinese thought: the relation of pleasurable activities to bodily health and the health of the body politic. In a notable contrast to Western writings on the subject, early Chinese writings oppose pleasure not with pain but with insecurity. All assume that it is right and proper to seek and take pleasure, as well as short-term delight, and all are equally certain that long-term relational pleasures are more easily sustained―as well as potentially more satisfying and less damaging. The pleasures that become deeper and more ingrained over the long term, as one invests time and effort into their cultivation, include friendship and music, sharing with others, developing integrity and greater clarity, reading and classical learning, and going home. Nylan explores each of these fields of activity through the early sources (mainly fourth century BC to the eleventh century AD), providing new translations for both well-known and seldom-cited texts.

Table of Contents:
Introduction
Chapter one: coming attractions
Chapter two: good vibrations
Chapter three: Mencius
Chapter four: Xunxi
Chapter five: vital matters 
Chapter six: on Yang Xiong
Chapter seven: semidetached lodgings
Afterword

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Emergence of Civilizational Consciousness in Early China: History Word by Word

Author:
Uffe Bergeton

Publisher:
Routledge

Publication date:
October 2018




Abstract:

This book provides a conceptual history of the emergence of civilizational consciousness in early China. Focusing on how words are used in pre-Qín (before 221 BCE) texts to construct identities and negotiate relationships between a 'civilised self' and 'uncivilised others', it provides a re-examination of the origins and development of these ideas.

By adopting a novel approach to determining when civilizational consciousness emerged in pre-Qín China, this book analyzes this question in ways that establish a fresh hermeneutical dialogue between Chinese and modern European understandings of 'civilization.' Whereas previous studies have used archaeological data to place its origin somewhere between 3000 BCE and 1000 BCE, this book explores changes in word meanings in texts from the pre-Qín period to reject this view. Instead, this book dates the emergence of civilizational consciousness in China to around 2,500 years ago. In the process, new chronologies of the coining of Old Chinese terms such as ‘customs,’ ‘barbarians,’ and ‘the Great ones,’ are proposed, which challenge anachronistic assumptions about these terms in earlier studies.

Examining important Chinese classics, such as the Analects, the Mencius and the Mozi, as well as key historical periods and figures in the context of the concept of ‘civilization,’ this book will useful to students and scholars of Chinese and Asian history.

Table of Contents:

Introduction

1. The Coining of Civilizational Consciousness in Modern Western Europe

2. From ‘Awe-Inspiringly Beautiful’ to ‘Morally Refined’— The Coining of ‘Civility’ in Pre-Qín China

3. Coiners and Critics of ‘Civility/Civilization’ (Wén)

4. Inventing the ‘Barbarian’: From ‘Belligerent Others’ to ‘Civilizationally Inferior Others’

5. Ethnographic Vocabulary of Civilizational Otherness: The ‘Elegant’ ‘Rites’ of the ‘Great Ones’ Versus the ‘Vulgar’ ‘Customs’ of the ‘Barbarians’

Conclusion

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

中国古代車馬研究

Author:
林 巳奈夫 (HAYASHI Minao)

Editor:
岡村 秀典

Publication date:
October 2018

Publisher:
臨川書店




Abstract:

本書は、林巳奈夫(1925-2006)が晩年に取り組んだ未刊の論集計画を忠実に引き継ぎ、新たに解題を附して刊行するものである。文字資料の解読と遺物・図像類の考証から、中国古代の国家、社会制度、文化事象の詳悉な析出を試みる。

Table of Ceontents:

序論

第1章 先秦時代の旗
一 『周礼』司常に記される旗 / 二 徽識 / 三 殷、西周時代の文字、記号等に表わされた旗

第2章 殷周時代の図象記号
一 従来の研究 / 二 資料の取扱い / 三 図象記号は何を表わすか / 四 甲骨文と対照してみた図象記号 / 五 十干名の図象記号 / 六 複合の図象記号 / 七 図象記号の盛衰 / 八 結び

第3章 先秦時代の馬車
一 先秦時代の馬車の構造 / 二 繫駕法、御法 / 三 性能 / 四 起原、系統

第4章 『周礼』考工記の車制
一 総序 / 二 輪人 / 三 輿人 / 四 輈人

第5章 先秦時代の馬
一 各時代の馬の体格 / 二 中国先秦時代の馬の系統の問題 / 三 結語

第6章 後漢時代の馬車
一 馬車 / 二 その他の車

第7章 後漢時代の車馬行列
一 車馬行列の主題、意図 / 二 画像石車馬行列の構成単位 / 三 車馬行列の編成

解題(岡村秀典)

索引(人名(神・民族名)、地名・遺跡名、事項、車馬関係、文献)