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Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China


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pp. 276, London
data stampa: 1969
codice isbn: 900000003786

This book consists chiefly of extracts from Chuang Tzu, Mencius and Han Fei Tzu. These are books by philosophers, and many people assume that to read a book about philosophy, unless one has studied the subject specially, is about as much good as for a layman to pore over a treatise on parasitology.
But there are all kinds of philosophy, and the kind that this book deals with is not at all technical. Chuang Tzu's appeal is to the imagination; he can be understood by any one who knows how to read poetry. The appeal of Mencius is to the moral feelings; the book is meaningless unless we realize that it was written at a time when morality (as opposed to Law) was at stake. Hitherto Mencius has not much interested Western readers because it has been studied by itself, without relation to other ways of thought that challenged its ideals. Realism, as expounded by Han Fei Tzu, finds so dose a parallel in modern Totalitarianism that the reader, so far from being puzzled by anything remote or unfamiliar, will wonder whether these extracts from a book of the third century B.C. are not in reality cuttings from a current newspaper. It need only be added that the whole is in Mr. Arthur Waley's delicate and delightful prose.

'Fascinating both for its own sake and for its parallels with our ways of thought in the tormented West.' (E. M. FORSTEll in The Listener)

'The book is full of wit, wisdom and quaint sayings, humanity and novel turns of thought. Some of the authors have been translated already, but never with as much limpidity, nor have they been arranged before in such a way that one is set against another and alI are related to a generaI background.' (MAURICE COLLIS in The Observer)

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