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Language as Bodily Practice in Early China
A Chinese Grammatology
Language as Bodily Practice in Early China
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Jane Geaney - Author
SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Price: $95.00 
Hardcover - 350 pages
Release Date: March 2018
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-6861-7

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Challenges the idea held by many prominent twentieth-century Sinologists that early China experienced a “language crisis.”

Jane Geaney argues that early Chinese conceptions of speech and naming cannot be properly understood if viewed through the dominant Western philosophical tradition in which language is framed through dualisms that are based on hierarchies of speech and writing, such as reality/appearance and one/many. Instead, early Chinese texts repeatedly create pairings of sounds and various visible things. This aural/visual polarity suggests that texts from early China treat speech as a bodily practice that is not detachable from its use in everyday experience. Firmly grounded in ideas about bodies from the early texts themselves, Geaney’s interpretation offers new insights into three key themes in these texts: the notion of speakers’ intentions (yi), the physical process of emulating exemplary people, and Confucius’s proposal to rectify names (zhengming).

Jane Geaney is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond and the author of On the Epistemology of the Senses in Early Chinese Thought.

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Table of Contents


Part I. Discounting the Language Crisis in Early China

1. The Crisis of Blockage: Accessing and Transmitting Obscure Things

2. The Crisis of Blockage: Why Not “Language and Reality”?

3. The Prescriptive Crisis: Nomenclature, Not System

4. The Prescriptive Crisis: Naming and Distinguishing

5. The Prescriptive Crisis: Correcting Names without “Performing” Rules

Part II. Understanding Early Chinese Conceptions of Speech and Names

6. Successful “Communication”: Getting the Yi 意 and Becoming Tong

7. “Ritual” versus Li 禮 as the Visible Complement of Sound

8. Zhengming and Li 禮 as the Visible Complement of Sound

9. Embodied Zhengming: How We Are Influenced by Seeing versus Hearing

10. Separating Lunyu 12.11 from Zhengming

Appendix Glossary of Terms with Aural or Visual Associations

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