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A return to intellectual history: A new approach to pre-Qin discourse on naming

A return to intellectual history: A new approach to pre-Qin discourse on naming
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    A Return to Intellectual History: A New Approach to Pre-Qin Discourse on NameAuthor(s): Cao Feng and Joseph E. HarroffSource: Frontiers of Philosophy in China,  Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jun., 2008), pp. 213-228Published by: BrillStable URL: 03-10-2018 08:06 UTC   JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a widerange of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity andfacilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Brill   is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Frontiers of Philosophy in China  This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:06:19 UTCAll use subject to   Front. Philos. China 2008, 3 2): 213-228  DOI 10.1007/sll466-008-0014-x  RESEARCH ARTICLE  CAO Feng  A return to intellectual history: A new approac  pre-Qin discourse on name  © Higher Education Press and Springer- Verlag 2008  Abstract Discussions of name {ming, & ) during the pre-Qin and Qin-  period of Chinese history were very active. The concept ming at that time divided into two categories, one is the ethical-political meaning of the term the other is the linguistic-logical understanding. The former far exceeds the in terms of overall influence on the development of Chinese intellectual his  But it is the latter that has received the most attention in the 20th century, the influence of Western logic. This has led to the result of a bias in contemporary studies of ming. Changing course by returning to the correc of intellectual history can providing an objective and thorough ordering of pre-Qin discourse on ming.  Keywords Chinese philosophy, pre-Qin ming discourse, Western logic, traditional intellectual history  *tssia»*5So múkm&jfñ, BBTSffi£»iEiÉ, n%m%^mMft\ti  *mm *@if^, 5t#£^, nn&m^, ^wurmmsl  Translated by Joseph E. Harroff from Shandong Daxue Xuebao ih&j^^M (Jour  University), 2007, 2): 59-64  CAO Feng El)  Institute of Literature,  E-mail: caofeng@sdu. This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:06:19 UTCAll use subject to   214 CAO Feng  1  There were spirited discussions regarding name (ming, £) from the pre-Qin to  the Han Dynasty. It seems almost every thinker from that time had at least  something to say about ming, if not making it the central focus of their  philosophical discourse. Not only the so-called School of Names, but also the Confucians, Mohists, Daoists, Legalists, and even the Military Strategists (e.g. Sun Wu) and Yin- Yang Naturalists all had their respective understanding of  ming. The various philosophical schools of early China all made the issue of  naming an important issue. Thus, the concept of ming cannot be ignored when  trying to understand this period of intellectual history. For virtually all the so-  called Hundred Schools of the pre-Qin era ming can be useful in providing a  starting point for approaching a thorough understanding of each particular school  of thought. Why is the concept ming almost universally emphasized by the  various schools? What are the specific understandings and conceptual content  given to ming by the respective thinkers? What is the general position and value attributed to ming by the various thinkers in their overall patterns of thought?  Why when approaching the later Han Dynasty does discussions regarding ming become more and more scarce? Why is there a sudden resurfacing of this topic  during the Three Kingdoms, Wei, and Jin dynasties? All of these questions  deserve to be carefully investigated. This type of academic research is not only  an area that has much room for improved understanding, but is in and of itself  very important.  However, as soon as we set ming before us as a concept for investigation,  that is a concept that can be defined and categorized, we discover this is a very  difficult task. Ming is a rich, and ambiguous, concept in the pre-Qin discourse.  Because various thinkers from this era have widely different understandings and uses of this word a very complicated picture arises. Besides the School of Names,  who made ming the specific focus of their philosophical investigations, each  school of thought had their own particular way of understanding the term. Wang Guan describes the situation of multiple meanings well, At that time (pre-Qin)  discussions of proper names (Zhengming, lE^i) had both general and specialized  discussions. General discussions included: Han Feizi and the Legalists; Xunzi  and the Confucians; Mozi and the Mohists; Huzi and Luzi and the  Miscellaneous School. In all these various doctrines on naming each occupies  its own position, either a central position or a supplementary one" (Wang 1992,  p. 23). From this we can see that ming cannot be like "associated humanity" (ren,  ÍZ) or "righteousness" (yi9 X), concepts which have a relatively clear and  comprehensive range of use and meaning in certain pre-Qin texts. Instead it is  better to think of ming as a kind of cluster concept, with the result that for one hundred people we are left with one hundred understandings of the term. In fact, This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:06:19 UTCAll use subject to   A new approach to pre-Qin discourse on name 215  the concept of Rectifying Names present in pre-Qin thought  the most difficult of all to rectify. Then what is ming exactly? From Ancient Chinese literar that it is impossible to find an exhaustive definition. Xu S  Jiezi i&ÜS? (Analytical Dictionary of Chinese Characters) term as follows: Ming £, from command (ming, ^fr).1 It component parts evening (xi9 &) and mouth (kou9 P). In evenin  we must call out names to recognize one another. Xu Shen'  semiotics and explains ming as a verb, the process of calling o  From here we can understand a basic connotation of ming with language use, or we could say it is just a symbolic placeho practice. If this was all there was to ming in ancient China the or logic for analysis would be quite easy. However, there is mu  than simple name-calling. In ancient China the term ming has a application. From a linguistic perspective, even just from the s  usage, sometimes it is a noun (expressing a proper name), (expressing a command or labeling), sometimes an adjective Moreover, in terms of just labeling for instance, sometim concrete description and at other times to an abstract con  example, in the opening chapter of the Dao De Jing WM  The Dao that can be daoed is not the true Dao, the ming that not the true ming. 2 The first ming and Dao are correlate  abstract concept or category. The second ming and Dao are ver  and Dao are just a typical instance of labeling. From t  interpretation the meaning of ming changes according to obje  and due to the speaker's context of use. To illustrate, the whether the field of reference are physical objects or pers  holds if we are using ming in discussing the Dao or method considerations also come into play when we consider the diffe be employed depending on whether we are speaking of (or as) 1 Trans. Note: Ming ^ is a difficult term to translate in itself, so for the r  Xu Shen's gloss may not be all that helpful. The meaning of the term command, to mandate, fate, luck, disposition, etc. I have chosen here to since I think this is what Xu Shen has in mind and has the advantage o  pragmatic use of language that the author wants to highlight in this paper.  Trans. Note: This rather unhelpful translation (mostly transliterat  difficulty in translating passages from the early Chinese philosophical c  Dao De Jing. A more informative translation for the reader withou  follows: The Dao that can be spoken (described, followed) is not the that can be named is not the eternal name. As should be clear from transliteration does not mean more perspicacity or lack of paradox. This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:06:19 UTCAll use subject to   216 CAO Feng  and the result  political status.  meaning that and allegiance  To clearly defin the various uses to understand h  ming, we mus  reasonable cate  into a clear appr  First let us loo  out, "The Yin  fundamentally name." Mohists ^S), and private J^), hybrid (jia schools (Mohist Yinwen focuses that systematic Qin period, on  find such catego  In the Yinwen  ming is disting  Ming has thre  ¿L&), this is lik  second is calle  something, goo  is called descr  worthy or stup  3 The original Ch  Lüezhu P'ÍCÍ KS-Ü Gumingjiayan ^S  The Yinwenzi over  that common amo  important for w uncertainty and apocryphal or not  texts' namesake, t  issues (Cao 2006). This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:06:19 UTCAll use subject to
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