Disciplines in Translation: From Chinese Philosophy to Chinese What?

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This paper argues that not just texts, but also disciplines need new translations. Since the sixteenth century texts such as the Confucian Analects have been considered ‘Chinese philosophy', an approximation that under the pressure of China's modernisation and the emergence of analytic philosophy has increasingly forced these texts, which the Chinese have traditionally considered a genre of ‘Masters Literature', into a shape dictated by contemporary notions of European and American philosophy. Illustrating its case by discussing Mencius's notion of ‘human nature', the paper argues that the ‘Masters Texts' should be ‘translated' into the new disciplinary context of a comparative intellectual history that includes non‐western thought traditions and provides more fruitful models of analysing the symbiosis of intellectual concerns with rhetorical strategies. Ultimately, such a new ‘translation' of Chinese ‘Masters Literature' will hopefully lead western philosophers to rethink their disciplinary framework, in particular the age‐old antagonism of the philosophical against the rhetorical/literary that is foreign to the Chinese tradition.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735780600623953

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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