Open Access to Dissertation on Guodian Texts

…by Dirk Meyer, University of Leiden. (I’m passing this information on from Rodo Pfister, who posted it on the Warring States Project message board.)

For those who are interested, here is the link to the whole dissertation in separate pdf downloadable files.

Here are the particulars, including abstract:

Meyer, Dirk , 2008, Meaning-Construction in Warring States Philosophical Discourse: A Discussion of the Palaeographic Materials from Tomb Guōdiàn One.
Ph.D. Dissertation, Research School CNWS, Faculty of Arts, Leiden University. 504p.

Keywords: Archaeology, Early China, Early writing and reading, Excavated manuscripts, Guodian One, Manuscript culture, Manuscript production, Philology, Philosophy, Text and tomb, Textual communities, Warring States Period.

Abstract: This book analyzes a defined corpus of philosophic texts from the Warring States period. It treats texts as objects in their own right and, in a broad sense, discusses the relationship between material conditions of text and manuscript culture, writing, techniques of meaning-construction, and philosophy in Warring States period (ca. 481-222). By analyzing the formal structure of the philosophic texts from the Warring States, the present study distinguishes between two ideal types of texts, which I call “argument-based texts” and “authority-based texts”. Meaning-construction in the former type of texts is based in writing; in the latter ideal type of texts, meaning-construction requires reference to (oral) commentators. Hence, whereas argument-based texts facilitate philosophy that is exempt from needs of contextualization, authority-based texts, for their part, are mere modules of larger philosophic processes that remain outside the texts themselves.

6 replies on “Open Access to Dissertation on Guodian Texts”

  1. I haven’t read the entire document yet (what? only 504 pages?), but I did browse enough to find this very interesting appendix of “propositions” at the very end:

    1) The complexity of early Chinese texts has long been undervalued.
    2) The study of early Chinese texts continues to neglect any clear distinction between editor and author.
    3) The study of pre-Qín (221-210 BC) thought must recognize that the early text is the only explicit mediator of early intellectual activity.
    4) Conventional treatment of texts as mere repositories of ideas does not enable a sound and historically valid reconstruction of early thought. This can only be achieved by looking at texts as meaningful objects.
    5) Analysis of early palaeographical materials permits insight into the reciprocal relationship between communities and the texts they used. This allows us to define which texts were used in a predominantly oral context as opposed to those that were composed in writing.
    6) The complex relationship between the spoken and the written renders impossible any attempt to (re)construct an imagined Urtext.
    7) Conscious philosophy in China started with composing philosophical texts in writing.
    8 ) Writing is more than just the mimesis of the mimesis.
    9) Our perspective on early Chinese thought has long been shaped by thinkers from the Hàn Dynasty (ca. 202 BCE-AD 8; 23-220 ) who, working in an elaborate manuscript culture, imposed notions of coherency and unity on the past.
    10) The physical length of an individual bamboo strip does not define the length of a meaningful textual unit. Moreover, in the Warring States period, the physical length of the bamboo strips does not reflect the status of a text at that time.
    11) The academic world must re-assess the means by which it procures primary research materials in acknowledgement of how it promotes illegal trade in manuscripts.
    12) Books in libraries disappear anyway. So why not allow open access to libraries in our universities?

    Any thoughts?

  2. I’m confused as to why you are so excited about Dirk Meyer’s free dissertation but never mentioned Kwan Leung Wong’s??

    by Kwan Leung Wong

    A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
    In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
    For the Degree of
    In the Graduate College

  3. Confused,

    Actually, “excited” is probably overstating it–I haven’t been excited for over a decade; “interested” is more like it. I was merely passing on a link to an open access work that seemed of interest to readers of the blog. I haven’t actively been seeking out open access material, but when one falls in my email or google lap (e.g. the Velleman paper), I’m happy to pass it on.

    If Wong’s is also available for free download, please pass on the link to us. There was no slight intended to any of the numerous other works, dissertation or otherwise, on the Guodian texts–the more free access the merrier!

    And remember all you out there: there IS a “Shameless Self-Promotion” page on this blog to plug your own work. There’s no shame in it!

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