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Beyond the Limit of Language: Hermeneutic Exploration of Chinese Discourse in a Cross-Cultural Perspective Wu Zongjie ( 吴宗杰) School of International Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond the Limit of Language: Hermeneutic Exploration of Chinese Discourse in a Cross-Cultural Perspective Wu Zongjie ( 吴宗杰) School of International Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond the Limit of Language: Hermeneutic Exploration of Chinese Discourse in a Cross-Cultural Perspective Wu Zongjie ( 吴宗杰) School of International Studies Zhejiang University International Symposium on Identity and Intercultural Communication October 28, 2008, Shanghai, China

2 What discourse could China contribute to the global value of communication? From where does misunderstanding arise over China? How can the world understand China without recourse to the propositional meanings?

3 The propositional way of representing (analyzing) Chinese culture

4 26 main categories as the theoretical ground for Smith’s definition of Chinese character face, economy, industry, politeness, a disregard for time, a disregard for accuracy, a talent for misunderstanding, a talent for indirection, flexible inflexibility, an absence of nerves, contempt for foreigners, an absence of public spirit, conservatism, indifference to comfort and convenience, physical vitality, patience and perseverance, contentment and cheerfulness, filial piety, benevolence, an absence of sympathy, mutual suspicion, an absence of sincerity, …. (Smith, 1894,quoted in Liu, 1995: 56)

5 The unintelligible “Face” …To save one’s face and lose one’s life would not seem to us very attractive, but we have heard of a Chinese District Magistrate who, as a special favor, was allowed to be beheaded in his robes of office in order to save his face! (Smith, 1894, cited in Liu, 1995: 65)

6 Hevia’s comment on Smith’s perception of Chinese Face The China lore of missionaries such as Brown and Smith constituted “face” as a singular attribute of the colonized, while denying that representatives of the allied powers were concerned themselves with appearances or that their discursive practices might actually produce “face”. A total description draws all phenomena around a single centre - a principle, a meaning, a spirit, a world-view, an overall shape; a general history, on the contrary, would deploy the space of dispersion. ( Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge)

7 Propositions about Chinese culture Respect for age, authority, and social norms stem from the Confucian concept of li, which refers to rite and propriety in maintaining a person’s position in the social hierarchy. The Confucian li principle dictates that individuals must follow a proper way and a proper ritual in social interaction. In addition, the practice of li emphasizes social obligations in communication by means of rules, including propriety of conduct, propriety of speech, and propriety of example (Chen & Chung, 1994, quoted from Hong & EngestrÖm 2004).

8 If I was told anything that was a theory, I would say, No, no! That does not interest me. Wittgenstein It is problematic to speak of “concept” in the study of Chinese culture (politics, knowledge, morality, religion).

9 Symbolic emptiness INTERPRETATION Sea of Interpretation in Chinese discourse

10 学如不及,犹恐失之 Learn as if [you] were following [someone you] could not catch up to, as though [it were someone you] were frightened of losing (Analects, 8:17). Catch up what?

11 The gap connecting the 3 verses is the space for interpretation 学朋 愠 子曰: “ 学而时习之,不亦说乎?有朋自远方来, 不亦乐乎?人不知而不愠,不亦君子乎? ” Confucius said, ”To learn and to practise what is learned time and again is pleasure, is it not? To have friends come from afar is happiness, is it not? To be unperturbed when not appreciated by others is gentlemanly is it not?”

12 Where the words are unintelligible lies the Sea of Interpretation Of course, I thought, it is good to study and then to put into practice what one has learned, and it is good to have friends, and it is good to be anonymous without resentment. But why was this considered a classic? … The Analects raised far more questions than they gave answers. …The belief that such an important book had meaning beyond what I imagined plunged me into the sea of interpretation. (Clark, 2006:109)

13 Rising early (the morning after marriage), the young wife washed her head and bathed her person, and waited to be presented (to her parents-in-law). 夙兴,妇沐浴以俟见。 As soon as it was dawn, she was led by a director to her parents-in-law, bearing a basket with dates, chestnuts, and slices of dried meat. 质明,赞见妇于舅姑,妇执枣、栗、段修以见 The director set before her a cup of sweet liquor, and she offered in sacrifice some of the dried meat and of the liquor, thus performing the rite which declared her their son's wife. 赞醴妇,妇 祭脯醢,祭醴,成妇礼也。 The father and mother-in-law then entered their room, where she set before them a dressed pig,- -thus showing the obedient duty of (their son’s) wife. 舅姑入室,妇以特豚馈,明妇顺也。

14 厥明,舅姑共饗婦, 以一獻之禮奠酬。舅姑先降自 西階,婦降自阼階,以著代也。 Next day, the parents united in entertaining the young wife, and when the ceremonies of their severally pledging her a cup of wine and her pledging them in return had been performed, they descended by the steps on the west, and she by those on the east, thus showing that she would take the mother's place in the family.

15 Li is an act of political interpretation 男女有別,而后夫婦有義;夫婦有義,而 后父子有親;父子有親,而后君臣有正 。 故曰:昏禮者,禮之本也。 The distinction between man and women came the righteousness between husband and wife. that righteousness came the affection between father and son, and that affection, the rectitude between ruler and minister. Whence it is said, "The ceremony of marriage is the root of the other ceremonial observances."

16 道德仁義,非禮不成,教訓正俗,非禮不備。分爭辨訟, 非禮不決。君臣上下父子兄弟,非禮不定。宦學事師,非 禮不親。班朝治軍,蒞官行法,非禮威嚴不行。禱祠祭祀, 供給鬼神,非禮不誠不莊。是以君子恭敬撙節退讓以明禮。 The principles of benevolence, justice and morality cannot be successfully put into practice without rites. Cultural education, moral training and custom rectification cannot be properly carried out without rites. The adjustment of disputes and the judgment of lawsuits cannot be fairly completed without rites. All decent relations, such as those between ruler and minister, between high and low, between father and son, between elder and younger brothers, etc., cannot be adequately established without rites. …. In offering sacrifices to the ancestors at the temple or dedicating obligations to ghosts and deities, piety and solemnity cannot be manifested without rites.

17 Ren: 大道之行天下為公 “The good life” When the Grand Tao was pursued, a public and common spirit ruled all under the sky; they chose men of talents, virtue, and ability; their words were sincere, and what they cultivated was harmony. Thus men did not love their parents only, nor treat as children only their own sons. A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were all sufficiently maintained. Males had their proper work, and females had their homes. It was by those rites that the ancient kings sought to represent the ways of Heaven, and to regulate the feelings of men.

18 Ren: Bring oneself to follow the rules of li, 顏淵問仁。子曰:克己復禮為仁。一日克 己復禮,天下歸仁焉,為仁由己,而由人 哉。 Yan Yuan asked about ren. The Master said, ‘‘Ke ji fu li constitutes ren. If a person can for one day ke ji fu li, all under Heaven will regard him as having ren. The attainment of ren comes from oneself, and not from others.’’ (Shun 2002, p. 60)

19 Unintelligible Records of the Grand Scribe 上遂東巡海上,行禮祠八神。四月,還至奉高。上念諸 儒及方士言封禪人人殊,不經,難施行。天子至梁父, 禮祠地主。乙卯,令侍中儒者皮 弁薦紳,射牛行事。封 泰山下東方,如郊祠泰一之禮。封廣丈二 尺,高九尺, 其下則有玉牒書,書祕。禮畢,天子獨與侍中奉車 子侯 上泰山,亦有封.其事皆禁。<孝武本紀第十二> The emperor traveled, and then went eastwards, where he passed along and inspected the sea-cost. He made sacrifices and offerings to the Eight Spirits... In the fourth month, the emperor came back to Fenggao, where he thought about the words of the scholars and the magicians about the fengshan sacrifices for Heaven and Earth, that were all so confusing and misleading that is would be impossible to follow them. Thereupon the emperor went to the Liangfu summit to sacrifice the Lord of the Land, or Dizhu. On the day yimao, he ordered the official secretaries to wear their leather caps and the pinned official clothes and to perform the ritual shooting of oxen. In the east of Mount Tai, he had an altar erected for the Heavenly sacrifice that had to be performed like the sacrifice to the Great Unity in the suburbs. The altar was two zhang wide and nine zhang high, at the base of the altar a precious book-case was lying, but nobody knew what its content was.

20 The performance of rites is an act of interpretation Chinese knowledge in religion, ethnics, politics, family …etc. are recorded (represented) in the detailed description of rituals (action) rather than in the argument of propositions. The interpretation of the knowledge is made only in the action rather than in the text. Words of representation (ideas) are reduced to the minimum; Social and moral interpretation is made upon the action; Knowing and acting are united as one; (not planning) The division of morality, religion, society and politics etc. are blurred and integrated; Embody understanding without knowing it in language Hence the Minister of Rites is in charge of education, apart from ceremonies.

21 Heidegger on Understanding Existence is ontologically prior to subject/consciousness/ intentionality. It is the condition of the latter’s possibility and intelligibility. “… the understanding of being human in an individual’s activity is the result of being socialized into practices that contain an interpretation not exhaustively contained in the mental states of individuals” (Dreyfus, 17). An understanding of being “is contained in our knowing- how-to-cope in various domains rather than in a set of beliefs that such and such is the case. Thus we embody an understanding of being that no one has in mind. We have an ontology without knowing it” (Dreyfus, 18).

22 Nietzsche on rationality Rationality at any cost … in opposition to the instincts, has itself been no more than a form of sickness. The central task for human beings is not the Socratic one of making knowledge cerebral and rational but instead one of making it bodily and intuitive. (quoted from Flyvjerg 2001)

23 Remove “ghosts”, we will be able to understand Liji Respect for age, authority, and social norms stem from the Confucian concept of li, which refers to rite and propriety in maintaining a person’s position in the social hierarchy. The Confucian li principle dictates that individuals must follow a proper way and a proper ritual in social interaction. In addition, the practice of li emphasizes social obligations in communication by means of rules, including propriety of conduct, propriety of speech, and propriety of example (Chen & Chung, 1994, quoted from Hong & EngestrÖm 2004).

24 To evade value judgment: Value is the sign as it is determined by the other signs in a semiotic system. (Saussure) "Speaking of linguistic law in general is like trying to pin down a ghost" (Saussure) All valuing, even where it values positively, is a kind of subjectifying. (Heidegger)

25 Source of meanings beyond human-made value ( logic, reasons) …Therefore Heaven produced numinous things, and the sages regarded these as the holding of meanings. Heaven and Earth changed and transformed, and the sages regarded these as models. Heaven hung images in the sky and revealed good fortune and bad, and the sages regarded these as meaningful signs. The Yellow River brought forth a diagram, and the Luo River brought for the writing, and the sages regarded these things also as ruling principles. (I Ching, Xici Zhuan, Part 1) 是故,天生神物,圣人执之。 天地变化,圣人效之。天 垂象,见吉凶,圣人象之。 河出图,洛出书,圣人则之。

26 Hexagram 11. 泰 (Peace) Heaven below Earth above 上问陆贽以当今切务。 贽以日致乱,由上下 之情不通,劝上接下 从谏 … 夫天在下而地 处上,于位乖矣,而 反谓之泰者,上下交 故也。君在上而臣处 下,于义顺矣,而反 谓之否者,上下不交 故也。 ( 资治通鉴,229 卷 ) Judgment: The petty depart, and the great arrive, so good fortune will prevail. 泰小往大来.吉亨 Commentary: Heaven and Earth interact perfectly, and myriad things go smoothly.

27 The Emperor asked Lu Zhi what should be held as the most emergent affair. Zhi answered that the increasingly chaotic situation was caused by the blockage of communication between the Emperor and his people, and therefore the Emperor should listen to his people. [source of meanings]…. when Heaven is below and Earth above, the order seems to be reversed, but it is called “Peace” as the Emperor and his people are interacting. When the Emperor is above and his people below, it seems to be in the right order, but it is called “Obstruction” as the Emperor and his people are in no interaction. 上问陆贽以当今切务。贽以日致乱,由上下之情不通, 劝上接下从谏 … 夫天在下而地处上,于位乖矣,而 反谓之泰者,上下交故也。君在上而臣处下,于义 顺矣,而反谓之否者,上下不交故也。 ( 资治通 鉴,229 卷 )

28 言生于象,故可寻言以观象,象生于意, 故可寻象以观意。意以象尽,象以言著, 故言者所以明象,得象而忘言,象者,所 以存意,得意而忘象。 ” (王弼,《周易略例 明象篇》)

29 The words are generated by the images, thus one can ponder the words and so observe what the images are. The images are generated by ideas, thus one can ponder the images and so observe what the ideas are. The ideas are yielded up completely by the images, and the images are made explicit by the words. Thus, since the words are the means to explain the images, once one gets the images, he forgets the words, and since the images are the means to allow us concentrate on the ideas, once one gets the ideas, he forgets the images.

30 Subtle words with deep meaning A case study of Spring and Autumn : History for Rectification Subtle (obscure, hidden) language and profound meaning (critical interpretation)

31 《春秋》 “ 弑 ” 君 1 、《春秋. 隐公四年》 : 戊申, 卫州吁弑其君完. On day Wushen (45) (March 28 Third month), Zhouxu of Wey killed his lord, Wan. (Zhouxu is guilty by doing this) 2 、《春秋. 隐公四年》 : 九月, 卫人杀州吁于璞 In the ninth month, people of Wey killed Zhouxu in Pu. ( 卫人, 但不称州吁为君, 是讨贼之意, 故不称弑, 只称杀 ) 3 、《春秋 · 桓公二年》 : 戊申, 宋督弑其君与夷及其大夫孔 父 Second year, in spring, on day Wushen (45) of the first month of the royal calendar (February 9), Du of Song killed his lord, Yuyi, and his dignitary, Kongfu. ( 褒 奖与君同死 ) 4 、《春秋. 文公元年》 : 冬十月丁未, 楚世子商臣弑其君顺 In winter, on day Dingwei (44) of the tenth month (September 15), the heir apparent of Chu, prince Shangchen, killed his lord, Jun. ( 弑君又弑父 )

32 5 、《春秋。文公一六年》 : 冬十有一月, 宋人弑其 君杆臼. In winter, in the eleventh month, the people of Song killed their lord, Chujiu. ( 也称 “ 宋 人 ”, 是责备君有该死之罪, 但究竟是正式君主 ) 6 、《春秋. 文公一八年》 : 莒弑其君庶其.The people of Ju killed their lord, Shuqi. 7 、《春秋。成公一八年》 : 庚申, 晋弑其君州 蒲.On day Gengshen (57) (December 24), the people of Jin killed their lords, Zhoupu.( 君罪恶太 甚, 故不罪弑君之人, 却说这是国民的公意 )

33 Unintelligible ? Liang qi-chao’s comments From a modern historical perspective, the above historical records surprise me. First, the sentences are too short and simple to be called a record. The longest record contains no more than forty Chinese characters; the shortest only one Chinese character; Secondly, each historical record contains only one event without any connection with one another, this is like the accounting record note in countryside. Thirdly, the events recorded were only those related to places, there was no record about the social situation. Fourthly, events irrelevant to historical issues such as natural disasters were recorded very carefully.

34 The impact of hermeneutic tradition on contemporary Chinese discourse Deng discourse Anti-secession Law Scientific Outlook on Development

35 A turning-point towards hermeneutic tradition Deng Xiaoping Discourse put aside the argument ( 不争论) Crossing the river by feeling for stones ( 摸着石子过河)

36 Emptiness Article 8 , Anti-secession Law: “ 台独 ” 分裂势力以任何名义、任何方式造成台湾从中国分 裂出去的事实,或者发生将会导致台湾从中国分裂出去的 重大事变,或者和平统一的可能性完全丧失,国家得采取 非和平方式及其他必要措施,捍卫国家主权和领土完整。 In the event that the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

37 subtle(obscure, hidden) language and profound meaning (critical interpretation) 微而显,志而晦 科学发展观 -- 发展是硬道理 The Scientific Outlook on Development is part of the theories of Socialism with Chinese characteristics that stands along with Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents. (Hu, 17th CPC National Congress) The principles emphasize a people-first approach, while requiring comprehensive and sustainable development with a dual emphasis on speed and quality. (Xi Jinping, Dec. 12, Xinhua) Re-evaluating the University's management guided by Scientific Outlook on Development (Zhejiang University)

38 In a word, the ultimate function of Chinese language is heuristic by creating a space for situated understanding rather to give conscious thesis of its own. Language is a tool to make the world intelligible, a signpost to show us the Way (Tao).

39 Implication for intercultural communication In the cross-cultural communication, we should pursue an ontological understanding rather than conscious KNOWLEDGE of each other --- a kind of understanding you embody without knowing it. “The central task for human beings is not the Socratic one of making knowledge cerebral and rational but instead one of making it bodily and intuitive.” (Nietzsche, quoted from Flyvjerg 2001)

40 Beyond the limit of language 荃者,所以在魚,得魚而忘荃;蹄者,所以在兔,得兔而 忘蹄;言者,所以在意,得意而忘言。吾安得夫忘言之人 而與之言哉? ( 《庄子 · 外物》第二十六 ) A fish-trap is for catching fish; once you’ve caught the fish, you can forget about the trap. A rabbit-snare is for catching rabbits; once you’ve caught the rabbit, you can forget about the snare. Words are for catching ideas; once you’ve caught the idea, you can forget about the words. Where can I find a person who knows how to forget about words so that I can have a few words with him? (Zhuang Zi Chapter 26)

41 Summary What if the world were not the object of representation, and figurative meaning did not tend to represent something – symbolically? What if generalization were not the goal of thought, or speech tended not to define (to build a universality of essence) but to modify itself – to reflect the circumstance? What if the purpose of speaking about the world, top make it intelligible, were not to arrive at Truth? Why did the Chinese not constitute the level of essences and spirituality which help the Greek tradition to structure the Western horizon of meaning? Francois Jullien “Detour and Access”

42 Thank You!


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