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Here is another in our occasional series of book reviews. Thanks to Mat for doing this, and comments are, of course, welcome!
Mathew A. Foust Central Connecticut State University
Review of Sam Crane, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern American Life (UK: Wiley Blackwell, 2013), xi + 201 pp.
Sam Crane intends this volume for “people who have an interest in seeing how ancient Chinese thought might cast new light on the present day but who are not yet familiar with the time-honored works” (3), with the belief that Chinese thought can “show us something about our world and ourselves that we might otherwise not see” (10). More specifically, Crane applies concepts and theories from Confucianism and Daoism to several contemporary issues dotting the American landscape. After a chapter explaining key concepts of Confucianism and Daoism, Crane explores how these teachings might be brought to bear on debates arising in virtually every sphere of human life, from birth (e.g., the issue of abortion) to death (e.g., the issue of euthanasia). Although his arguments are occasionally strained by inadequate textual support, his volume is largely able to achieve its stated objectives.
Penguin has recently brought out a new translation of, and commentary on, the Analects, by Annping Chin. The Amazon page is here, at which one can get a good sense of the format and goals of this new translation. Considerable comentary is appended after each passage, with a combination of Chin’s own thoughts and comments from mostly post-Song (primarily Qing to the present) scholars. Chinese text is provided in an appendix. Anyone have any thoughts on this new translation?
Confucius valued careful and serious speech. One passage in the Analects says that a person can be judged as wise or unwise on the basis of a single sentence. So how is it possible that for many Americans, the first thing they think of when they hear the name of the Chinese teacher is “Confucius say,” followed by a silly one-liner?
An interesting take on Xi Jinping’s frequent expressions of reverence for China’s past.
With each published issue of Dao, we choose one article for discussion here on Warp, Weft, and Way, and Dao‘s publisher gives everyone free access to the article for a year. The next article to get this treatment is “Aristotle and Confucius on the Socioeconomics of Shame” by Thorian Harris. The article can be accessed here. Howard Curzer of Texas Tech is going to start off the discussion in a couple weeks with a précis; in the meantime, we encourage you to download and read the article, and then join in the discussion when it begins.
The latest entry in the New York Times’ Stone column. Discussion welcome!
Journalist Evan Osnos has a new article, “Confucius Comes Home,” in The New Yorker. Only subscribers will have access to more than the first few paragraphs, I fear. It’s a terrific and provocative piece!