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February 08, 2011

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Peony, thanks for the link to the huge pile of translations and the link to Dreyfus’ lectures.

Derek isn’t the only one who has complained about your interpretation! (See first comment on Two Bachelors string)

You, Red Pine, and Derek all seem to suppress line 6 in some sense (“It’s not that the haunting/powers don’t harm people”). For a translation I think it can be OK to do that sort of thing if we’re confident about the line of thought in and behind the work – in this case the line of thought animating the discussion of gui and shen. Not just what they are literally, but what the point is of talking about them, especially if (as might be the case) the text retracts pretty much everything it says about them!


Peony has asked my to cross-post this here:

Regarding the difference between 鬼 and 神:

This is not an easy question to answer, especially with regards to Shen 神,and more especially since guishen 鬼神 was a common compound. Shen can refer to Nature Spirits, as in “the spirits of mountains and rivers” (山川之神) which were regularly sacrificed to. These spirits were never called Gui that I know of. And contrary to what I wrote earlier, many human-animal hybrids were called Shen. Around the mid-Warring States period Shen also came to be understood as something inside each person (Zhuangzi 12: 形體保神), but distinct from one’s two-part souls, Hun 魂 and Po 魄. As Harold Roth says, Shen can represent “a profound level of consciousness.” Shen can refer to an indescribable and mysterious potency of efficacy, as in Zhuangzi 13’s: “Nothing is more Shen than Tian-Heaven/Nature” (莫神於天). Anything considered covert and very effective was called Shen. Natural phenomena appeared to ancient peoples to be directed by unseen powers – Shen – and so relationships were attempted with these natural forces and phenomena. Sacrificing to them and asking for guidance was a central and ancient practice and ritual. (Why? So they could have more control and power over their lives = personal welfare.) Early Daoists discovered that we had, or could have, this efficacious power within us. Moreover, they discovered that it was during periods of psychological calmness that we experience this covert efficacy. It seemed to require an emptiness of mind and an un-coloured awareness. Blah Blah Blah . . .
Gui are human ghosts, hungry or malevolent ghosts, demonic spirits. I'm afraid I do not know much details about them ;)

I like the Red Pine too. But it does sound a bit abrupt towards the end.

Bill, just to clarify is your only problem with my (and Red Pine's) translation the omission of this line: 非其神不傷人
Are ou happy with everything else?

Derek, I agree completely. I really liked Red Pine's translation-- fara above any other-- but too thought it ended abruptly (and therefore I prefered my own!)I am also wondering if "display no powers" couldn't be improved...

Hi Peony,

Here’s Red Pine’s translation:

1 Ruling a great state is like cooking a small fish
2 when you govern the world with the Tao,
3 spirits display no powers
4 Not that they don't have power,
5 But their power will not harm people
8 Inasmuch as none of them harms anybody,
9 Therefore virtue belongs to them both

One reason I don’t like this is the ending. In 9, “them both” is an awkward match with “none of them” in 8. And who are “them both”? Spirits and their power? That was “none of them,” and anyway fits poorly with “them both,” at least in English. (It’s a better fit in Chinese, with gui and shen.) But nobody else is on the scene other than spirits and their power. The sage is completely suppressed, and the one who approaches the world with the Tao is called “you” in 2 and so can’t be one of “them.”

I’m not sure about the other aspects of his 9. I think it might be a possible reading.

Red Pine’s translation omits both lines 6 and 7:

6 It is not that their power will not harm people,
7 It is really that a sage does not harm people.

That’s one way to get rid of problems!

If these lines were both deleted by accident, or by a last minute decision, that would explain why there’s an orphaned “them both” at the end.

But suppose we insert lines 6 and 7 back into the tranlsation. That would bring in a big new problem. Note that 9 says “Therefore.” That means the “Inasmuch” in 8 isn’t just a noncommittal “If”. It has to be a “Because” that actually asserts the rest of 8. And the problem is how to reconcile that 8-assertion with 6. The problem isn’t so much that the 8-assertion contradicts 6. For 6 may be doing nothing more than withdrawing 5. The problem is that 6 is at least withdrawing 5, and without 5 there’s nothing to support 8’s assertion that the powered-up spirits won’t harm people.

I think your translation is more accurate to the original. I do have some other problems with it, though, since you ask.

After looking through some texts I think莅 is better translated as “manage” or “govern” or “oversee” than as approach.
I like using Way when possible because it’s clearer.
I think gui isn’t so specifically ancestors.
I’m not sure the last line is talking about governing. Maybe.

Hi Bill,

It seems that we all agree Red Pine's ending is problematic. I agree with you that "none of them" in 8 is a problem. If I was being pedantic, I would say that 夫兩 obviously refers to only two items, so "neither" rather than "none". This makes for a better match with "both" in 9 too.

So far, I have been lazy and relied on Japanese glosses of 莅(のぞむ), which means "to come to power/a position, to apply oneself to an endeavour, to arrive"... essentially, "come/attend". Looking up the word in a Chinese dictionary, I see that it means the same thing -- in fact, the Japanese のぞむ has the wider meaning.

莅 li4 到:〜临|〜会|〜任
(to arrive: to arrive | to arrive at a meeting; to join a conference | to assume an official position [lit. to come to a duty] )

Hence, I'm not sure "manage", "govern" or "oversee" quite do it.

I'm quite sure the last line isn't *only* talking about governing, even if it is on the surface. It's definitely a dose of universal truth.

I'm also a little confused about your purposes with regards to the text. It looks like you want to both arrive at the "real" (whatever this means) meaning of the original as well as find a perfect (or as good as is possible) translation for it, and it seems as if you are engaging both problems at the same time, which I feel is counterproductive. Good, satisfactory translations can, and should, inform your reading of the original, but they should not be the end in understanding it -- any translator or person who speaks more than one language fluently can tell you that it's impossible to say *exactly* the same thing in more than one language. Hence, both these problems will inevitably take you towards different answers, and trying to shoot two condors with one arrow in this instance will probably get you a few loose feathers and an arrow in the ground.

For the record, I think translation should be informed by what the author was trying to do (persuade you of his argument -- whatever it is -- in this case) in the original, but only express what was overtly conveyed by it.

PS: I responded to other questions you raised in the other thread as well.

Derek,

Thanks for your comment and that is precisely why I am sticking with approach in my translation.

With this passage, we are so far separated in time and culture-- not to mention the inherent ambiguity of the text-- that one has to weigh the evidence and then make an interpretation. It is not all that different from finding a clay tablet of a musical score in the ruins of an ancient Mesopotamian library.

You have the score-- but don't know the scale. Yes, it's a wonderful puzzle.

A puzzle which I don't think a categorical solution is reachable (that's why it is so seductive).

Bill,

Below I am addressing all the points in your email. The translation too is slightly revised.

六十
治大國、若烹小鮮。以道莅天下、其鬼不神。非其鬼不神、 其神不傷人。
非其神不傷人、聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷。故徳交歸焉

The Sage governs a large kingdom as he cooks a small fish
By approaching (莅) the world by way of the Dao--
The spirits of our dead ancestors will not haunt (其鬼不神).
Even if these spirits do not stop haunting
Still, their haunting shall not harm the people (人民).
The Sage of a large realm too (亦) shall not seek to harm the people
If neither sages nor spirits cause harm
Then so will virtuous governing be achieved

**
1) I am in agreement with Derek and am keeping "approaching" instead of governing for (莅)→ のぞむ
2) I'm quite partial to the double use of "by" in line 2 so shall keep it for now.
3) Please explain your third point about primacy of Dao over one's approach to the world. I want to be clear before I respond
4) I disagree about grammar problem. The implicit subject in the original (and I think in my english) is "the sage"-- wrong?
5) Whether gui is specific to ancestors or not is one of the two un-resolved issues. I am leaning to your reading that it is just spirits in general, but this brings out worries to me then as to why they would be riled to fury (as I read it in my post above)
** #5 is an unresolved issue

6) Concerning 人民 versus 人: I am guessing (this is pure speculation) that in ancient times there might not have been a linguisitic differentiation between the two terms and that the ambiguity was resolved by the context-- in this case the contrast of the Sage with 人... I am making an interpretation but at the same time, unless you can show me that the word 人民 was in common use at the time of writing then your's too would be an interpretation... no?

7) yes, "our" was my own unique touch. I'm glad you noticed it! But no, it doesn't mean one sage is addressing another sage, but rather that by approaching the world in a way that is not in accordance to the dao, not only will "the people's" dead ancestors 鬼 be riled to fury 神 but so too will the sage's Himself.

8) I dislike haunt for the same reason I disliked "manes"... it just seems embedded in another tradition. I am honestly at a loss at what to translate 神

9) Regarding "too" 亦 where would you have me put it?

10) Shall was ammended to will

11) Fixed cause

**

Unresolved Issues: #5 and the missing line 非其神不傷人

As you say, this is the biggest issue and I am stuck. I don't like Legge's translation of it-- but you're right, it seems that Red Pine (like me) brushes over it.)

Also, the boiling live fih, thing-- you have not convinced me by a long shot.


Over to you!

One more point before I sign off for a bit:

Derek, I loved what you wrote about ghosts (copied below) just to clarify my reading: it's not that the spirits or ghosts ar concerned with the state in abstract but as I hope my posts above suggested they are riled by the actions of the Ruler only to the extent the actions of the ruler affect the people (and yeah I am sticking with "the people" to mark the contrast to the sage)

**
from Derek:

I see your point about the ghosts (spirits of the dead ancestors) of the people getting riled that affairs of the State are not being handled properly, but I don't really get how "ghosts of the people" and "ghosts in the world" are exclusively different. If ghosts are the spirits of dead people, then even the "ghosts in the world" have to be the "ghosts of (some) people" -- unless they did not have children when they were alive -- and, thus, collectively, they are the "ghosts of the people", unless there are people who are not included in "the people", i.e. people who do not fall under the rule of the State. Did you mean that, while the "ghosts in the world" and the "ghosts of the people" are the same body of ghosts, *calling them* "ghosts of the people" is important as this portrays them with a more personal link to "the people" and that was the intention in the original passage?

The idea that there is a body of ghosts sitting around with an active, current interest in the mortal realm is incongruous to my reality. In Chinese folk religion, there is an underworld(黄泉、冥界), over which 閻羅王 (often translated as King of Hades, analogous to the Japanese 閻魔王) presides. I imagine you are aware of お盆, when the spirits of a family's dead ancestors return to the land of the living. The Chinese version is darker. On the first day of the seventh lunar month, the gates of Hell are thrown open and the ghosts are free to roam the earth. Parents take special care not to keep their children out of sight after dark. Paper offerings are burnt on a much larger scale (think bonfire or slash-and-burn agriculture) and concerts (ge1 tai2, 歌台)-- yes, *concerts*, with real, living people acting and singing for the unseen spirits who walk the land -- are held in the open. It's fascinating that these customs have been updated to keep with the times: paper Mercedes Benzes and paper-and-stick mockups of domestic helpers were the must-haves about six years ago when I left Singapore. Try running an image search for "hell bank note" on Google. It should give you a laugh, if nothing else.

But I get distracted. As I was saying, the idea that these ghosts maintain an interest in the affairs of mortals is... incongruous. I should sit down one day and read Tale of Genji cover-to-cover, but it is my instinct that even Genji's ghosts were not concerned about the affairs of state and governance so much so as they had personal, vested interest in Genji and his trials and tribulations (or "spiritual growth", if we want to pun). If there was any political issue involved in those trials (hooray for double entendre, "political issue = children of political union/marriages"), it was probably because Genji and the people around him were royalty. Philosophically, temporal matters such as the affairs of state ought to be of no concern and consequence to ghosts, to whom Time is no longer a problem. The Chinese view of Time is cyclical: time repeats itself every 12,000 years, nothing truly begins, nothing truly ends... by extension, nothing really *happens*, since there is no true change. The Western view of Time is more, perhaps, satisfactory: it starts with the Creation and ends with the "conversion of the Jews"... things *happen* and then are *over*. Not in our lifetimes, but there is the promise of closure. In this sense, the Chinese view of Time can be rather inconducive to Hope. So while Western ghosts do have a time limit, albeit a longer one, to see to any unfinished business, since anything that has a Beginning must logically have an End, Chinese ghosts simply go, "Bad ruler? Rulers die. Bad system of government? Empires crumble." You can see how such a world view is an easy breeding ground for apathy. In contrast, it is the people, who live within Time, that need and effect change. It is the people who raise their ploughshares in rebellion and reinstate an unjust emperor with a peasant king. And it is the people who take an interest in the affairs of state and principles of governance. Ghosts are just egotistical, hungry little babies who demand to be fed and want their way.

1) "approaching" for (莅)

I was using “approaching” too until recently—I think in the back of my mind I was associating 莅 with 臨 – but I checked and decided that doesn’t seem to fit the other uses in the DDJ.

2) I'm quite partial to the double use of "by" in line 2 so shall keep it for now.

You’ll come to your senses by and by.

3) Please explain your third point about primacy of Dao over one's approach to the world.

Not primary but preliminary, your phrasing suggests.
I mean: “approaching the world by way of the Dao” suggests that the Dao is the road to the world. One approaches the world by way of the Dao, and at the end of the approach on that road one has arrived at the world.

4) I disagree about grammar problem. The implicit subject in the original (and I think in my english) is "the sage"-- wrong?

Maybe not. It depends on how the opening lines are parsed. For the most part you don’t use punctuation after the lines, and if that’s the convention then it’s natural (or at least too easy) to read the first line as a complete sentence and the second line as an introductory clause in a new sentence, in which case the rule is that the implicit subject of the second line is “the spirits of our dead ancestors.” One way around that is to use punctuation, putting a comma at the end of 1, a period at the end of 2, and “then” somewhere in 3.

6) unless you can show me that the word 人民 was in common use at the time of writing then your's too would be an interpretation... no?

My point wasn’t about interpretation. It was just that inserting the characters in parentheses into your English translation does strictly constitute reporting that those exact characters appear in the original text, which isn’t true.

In classical Chinese, the concept人民 would be expressed with民 alone.
7) But no, [“our”] doesn't mean one sage is addressing another sage,
I didn’t mean to suggest that “our” suggests that one sage is addressing another sage! I think it suggests that one civilian is addressing another—no matter what you meant to suggest by it.

9) Regarding "too" 亦 where would you have me put it?

Hey, you’re the creator on this one; I’m just the destroyer.

Response (see immediately above)
1) Why do you say it doesn't fit? I think it is a good association (that's because it is my own!)


2)Doubtful

3) I'm still not clear exactly but what I meant to suggest by my translation is that the Sage has many possible approaches that she can take up when "approaching" the world and one of those is the Daoist approach...

6) Are you sure? (that is are you sure the modern meaning was implied by 民?) And are you sure about historical period? If you are then I think I will want to change my English (however most of the online japanese sites specifically chose to explain 人 as 人民) The kanji is only in there for the purposes of communicating with you ("the people") is what I am going with unless you can really provide evidence regading classical use of 民


1) 莅 → 臨

I was wrong about other uses in the DDJ; there aren’t any! I must have checked some other text. Now I think I remember checking the Mencius, which is contemporary enough. The basic problem, I think, is that “approach” is too general. One can’t say that one’s approach to being someone’s subordinate is 莅-ing one’s servitude or one’s superior. 莅 suggests management or at least overseeing.

2) Doubtful.

Doubtless.

3) I'm still not clear exactly but what I meant to suggest by my translation is that the Sage has many possible approaches that she can take up when "approaching" the world and one of those is the Daoist approach...

Yes, but one wants to avoid sending the reader down false paths even briefly.

6) 民?) And are you sure about historical period?

I’m sure. 民 is used for “the people” in DDJ 3, 10, 19, 57, 58, 65, etc. Sometimes in early texts it’s used simply to mean “people,” as in DDJ 32, 53, 64, 66, etc.

莅 → 臨

Maybe what I’m talking about isn’t really any difference between those two characters. But here’s why I was thinking about it the other day. I was thinking about the Mawangdui version, whose line 7 leaves out the object 人 of the verb 傷. That allows line 7 to mean that the sage is not hurt/harmed. (That’s how Waley reads that line.)

That’s interesting if 莅 just means “approach” and doesn’t suggest “approach from a superior vantage point as supervisor or manager.” For then 莅 doesn’t suggest government. And so one just might think that 莅天下 is something everybody does.

And if one were willing to swallow that medicine, one would be open to a new kind of reading of the Chapter. For that medicine makes the text consistent with the hypothesis that line 1 is extraneous to the rest, and Mawangdui lines 2-9 are not about government at all. They’re about being safe from ghosts. Like this:

2 When one deals with the world by the Way,
3 Its ghosts do not rise up.
4 It is not that they do not rise up;
5 But that they do not harm people.
6 It is not that the ghosts do not harm people;
7 But that the sage is not harmed.
8 As these two do not harm each other,
9 Their relations grow in moral strength.

My sense is that the Mawangdui texts are not worth much, so I’m not attracted by this reading. But others might not share my premise.

I think there are other problems with this reading. But all the readings proposed so far have problems.

OK, now I know why you're sticking to "ghosts" not "spirits"... again though with Ghosts, we are committing to something (that they are the deceased spirits of the deceased as I think that is what ghosts imply in english)

I am conflicted about "people"... you have (in your email) provided evidence that "people" is in fact better. However, if I were to scratch "the people" with "people" then the entire thing becomes (in my opinion) tenuous. That is, the first sentence becomes far less powerful.

You realize of course that this firt sentence is what I like.

And you also doubtfully realize that there is a big difference between "gentle" and "performing a task with delicacy"

**

So, in a nutshell, I am sticking with my reading" but am teetering a bit about people.

Now, Mr. Haines, do you have a work in progress over there?

And, no comments about my take on what these spirits (aka ghosts) are?

That is an interesting point too about 莅天下 being something everyone does-- guess what? That is exactly how I just naturally understood that line... that is, that the Sage approaching life in that way, as part of that approach to life also governs in harmony with the dao (ie, like he cooks an already dead small fish)

Regarding the question about what business Ghosts have in the world, we find in the Mozi that ghosts and spirits "have the power to reward the worthy and punish the wicked" (賞賢而罰暴) and Mozi also says, "The ghosts and spirits of past and present are of three kinds only: the spirits of Heaven, the spirits of the mountains and seas, and the ghosts of men who have died (...有天鬼,亦有山水鬼神者,亦有人死而為鬼者。).

Although there is plenty of evidence that deceased ancestors could cause the living to be sick, the Gui in Laozi 60 might better be understood as evil spirits or demons, which more regularly were the causes of sickness (before 'more refined' ideas of Yinyang imbalances developed). Plenty of exorcisms, sacrifices and rites were performed to drive off (or appease) these malign forces.

re: "Philosophically, temporal matters such as the affairs of state ought to be of no concern and consequence to ghosts, to whom Time is no longer a problem. The Chinese view of Time is cyclical: time repeats itself every 12,000 years, nothing truly begins, nothing truly ends... by extension, nothing really *happens*, since there is no true change."

This is not the view of the pre-Han Chinese at all. Well, time was understood as cyclical, seasonal. Change was the only constant. And there was plenty of speculation about the Beginning (i.e., prior to the creation of Heaven and Earth).

Hi Derek,

D> “I'm also a little confused about your purposes with regards to the text. It looks like you want to both arrive at the "real" (whatever this means) meaning of the original as well as find a perfect (or as good as is possible) translation for it, and it seems as if you are engaging both problems at the same time, which I feel is counterproductive.”

My main interest is in the interpretation, and my main worries are not about what ghosts are, beyond the points Scott makes here. Gui are sort of demonic and they’re probably but not necessarily mainly ancestral. There’s no sign that it matters for DDJ-60 whether they have bodies. If there are signs that it matters for the DDJ-60 whether they’re ancestral, one would find the signs by discussing how to parse the text and interpret the overall argument. So my main interest is not in the very open-ended Chinese words gui and shen, but rather in the interpretation of the other aspects of DDJ-60, not so much the individual words as the structure of the whole. But a high proportion of the response I have got to my wise and unwise reasoning on those points consists in proposed translations (and demonic grunts and snorts). All the translations I’ve seen or generated so far seem to me to be committed to readings of the text that don’t perfectly fit the text. So far as I can tell. Granted, it’s possible that a perfect expression of what the author(s) had in mind wouldn’t perfectly fit the text. Still I’m not sure yet what the darned thing means. It’s very possible of course that the text has multiple authors who had different ideas. I think the Mawangdui texts, at least, must be the work of more than one person who didn’t know each other, because they look to me like heavily rewritten versions of the Wang Bi text.

Meanwhile, I was asked for comprehensive criticisms of Peony’s and Red Pine’s translations qua translations, so I found what problems I could.

D> “I would say that 夫兩 obviously refers to only two items, so "neither" rather than ‘none’. This makes for a better match with ‘both’ in 9 too.”

I agree. But given the rest of Red Pine’s translation, it remains obscure what two parties are meant or even could be meant.

D> “PS: I responded to other questions you raised in the other thread as well.”

I can’t find your responses! But I get lost in all these strings, and sometimes I think a ghost is moving things around while I search.

Derek,

D> “PS: I responded to other questions you raised in the other thread as well.”

Oh, I think I know what’s going on. You’re talking about your response that has the "Erm" and talks about rhetorical patterns. I answered that yesterday, but my answer is for some reason hidden behind a “next” button just under your response.

In one sense, like Bill, I am not all that concerned about whether the 鬼 is seen as a ghost or a spirit in that, my reading of this passage would not really change. While the method of cooking a small fish is a metaphor for the recommended way of governing a large kingdom, the riling or not of the gui is seen as one of perhaps many resulting phenenomena (resulting again from the actual governing). To me, it could have easily read like this:

1) Govern like you cook small fish
2) By doing so, no natural disasters will occur
3) It's not that no natural disasters will occur but that they won't harm
4) It's not that they won't harm but the resulting harm will be less by the fact that the ruler is also not harming the people
5) And be reducing harm to the people and by the ruler herself ruling in line with the dao, virtue will gather.

**

Concerning ghosts and spirits, two other comments:
1) I am going to have to take a trip to the library. This is a prejudiced personal opinion (which perhaps seems somewhat commonsensical too-- well at least to me) that the Japanese sources are usually right on target. I have been looking at Chinese history via japanese sources for over 10 years (granted its all be almost exclusively in the song) but---- they have always (in my experience) been really well beyond (in accuracy and presentation) their counterpart english sources. And in this case, all I am seeing is 鬼 as 死人の魂。This is only by an online search though soooooo

I will have to walk over to the library in the next couple of days to supplement my online sources. In the meantime, I am sticking with this understanding.

As Derek also agreed, the Japanese world too was filled with all kinds of supernatural beings-- just like Scott said: gobilns, spirits and ghosts...

Also, it's interesting to me that Scott has actually 3 different words it seems (?) from Mozi

有天鬼 → 鬼
亦有山水鬼神者  → 鬼神者
亦有人死而為鬼者 → 鬼者

Are these 3 different terms, like they look to my eyes?

I wrote in my thing behind the Next-button under "Two Bachelors,"

"Maybe (1) [the anti-Mohist reading] is right. But I’m not pleased with it." But do I have a good reason for not being pleased with it?

Hm. Maybe what’s moving me is this. If (1) is the right reading, so that the idea is that the ruler shouldn’t use ghosts to threaten the people into good behavior, then in non-daoey rule, the ghosts basically come from the government side of the government/people divide. They express not the tortured fish, but the torturing cook. And that just doesn’t seem like a picture the opening lines suggest.

Still the idea may be to move from one view to the other, as Derek suggests, along this trajectory:

1. Governing should be minimal. In the words of the astrologer Nancy Reagan, “Just face South.”
2. When the Emperor stands facing South,
3. All spooky things are powerless.
4. Or if they’re not powerless,
5. At least they don’t attack.
6. Or if they do attack,
7. At least the government is not complicit in their marauding.
8. When these two are not partners in marauding,
9. That’s the whole game right there.

But I think this general reading stretches the text.

Just now I see Peony’s version, referencing the Sichuan schoolhouses. That’s similar to this reading, but an improvement I think. It makes the chapter not be an attack on the Mohists.

Peony, the compound 鬼神 or 鬼神者 just means 鬼 and 神. That’s standard syntax. It confused the heck out of the neoMohist logicians.

"Peony, the compound 鬼神 or 鬼神者 just means 鬼 and 神. That’s standard syntax. It confused the heck out of the neoMohist logicians."

There must be a difference-- how can it mean BOTH 鬼 and 神
**Please double check!


** I also feel funny about adding the concept of reducing or being complicit. That is how I logically want to read it-- but I am not confident that is what is being said yet.

I'm not confident either.

In classical Chinese if you say there are horses oxen in the field, that means there are horses and oxen in the field.

Exactly Bill.

Peony, if I understand you you’re saying it seems impossible in principle that 亦有山水鬼神者 could mean “There are also 鬼 and 神 of mountains and streams,” because you think a language just couldn’t omit “and.”

Classical Chinese is full of features that seemed designed to impede communication and logical thought.

I don’t know about Japanese, but written Chinese has had, for I don’t know how long, a two kinds of commas. There’s a regular comma and then there’s a funny kind that means “and” in such phrases as “cows & horses.”

Bill, I am not the type of Lady Rokujo to say "impossible" about a language I don't read! No, I was asking-- And is that, in fact what it means? 鬼 and 神? Classical Japanese would run everything together so i would not be all that surprised but I was trying to clarify?

Hi everyone,

Scott:
"This is not the view of the pre-Han Chinese at all. Well, time was understood as cyclical, seasonal. Change was the only constant. And there was plenty of speculation about the Beginning (i.e., prior to the creation of Heaven and Earth)."

Thank you. That was my post-modernist mind imposing a view on the pre-Han Chinese view of time. I did mean to say "change that is permanent" by "true change", as in "nothing changes and remains that way", but it is Permanence that does not exist, not Change.

Isn't the Mozi the book that was sidelined in the history of Chinese philosophy? I believe it was criticised as being overly concerned with the supernatural and folk superstition. I could have remembered wrong, though. It's been a while.

"the Gui in Laozi 60 might better be understood as evil spirits or demons, which more regularly were the causes of sickness"

Ha! "Malicious spirits"! :-p

Bill:
"I agree. But given the rest of Red Pine’s translation, it remains obscure what two parties are meant or even could be meant."

I see no need to criticise the translation for not being specific; as I have said, I think a translator should not add to what is not overtly given in the original, all the more so when what is being added is by no means the One True Ultimate Authoritative Explanation. Glosses should be just that, glosses.

But I recognise how this does not help in the understanding of the original.

Peony:
I've made two trips to different bookstores, but have yet to find a Classical Chinese dictionary or grammar book. I wish I was in HK!

As Bill has mentioned, 者 is often used as a particle, like a 助詞 in Japanese.

鬼神 doesn't mean "both 鬼 and 神" in the sense of being "both 鬼 and 神 (at the same time)". 天下鬼神 would mean "the 鬼 and 神 of/who are in the world".

山水鬼神 poses the problem of how 鬼神 relates to 山水, though. 山水 itself would probably need to be glossed substantially too. But let's not go there :-p

Back to Bill:
"Classical Chinese is full of features that seemed designed to impede communication and logical thought."

I disagree :-p Classical Chinese served *precisely* the opposite function of allowing people who spoke different languages/dialects to communicate and share ideas as long as they were *educated*. I would like to point out that for the longest time ever, the Japanese (and the Koreans too, although I am not very informed about the Koreans) read and wrote Classical Chinese, amongst themselves and in correspondence to the respective dynasties across the sea, without speaking a single word of Chinese, a tradition that continues to live on as Kanbun classes in high school.

Maybe that's why Peony likes Japanese scholars so much -- they start much closer to the source.

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