On the School of Names in Ancient China

1st Edition

Bernard S Solomon

Routledge
Published June 30, 2012
Reference - 413 Pages
ISBN 9783805006101 - CAT# Y317759
Series: Monumenta Serica Monograph Series

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Summary

The present study on ancient Chinese philosophy invites us to meet a challenging task in philosophical understanding. The so-called "School of Names" (mingjia 名家) is a label for a diverse group of thinkers in the Warring States period (479–221 B.C.) that has sometimes been accused of dabbling in flippant linguistic and conceptual puzzles, paradoxes, or sophistries. Bernard Solomon analyzes the works of its two main representatives, namely Huizi 惠子 (Master Hui, or Hui Shi 惠施, 380–305 B.C.?) and Gongsun Long 公孫龍 (b. 380 B.C.?).

The Chapter One deals with the ten "paradoxes" of Huizi as recorded in the Zhuangzi 莊子. Chapters Two to Six are devoted to five texts attributed to Gongsun Long that have been called cryptic or even a mixture of banality and nonsense. Among them is also found the "White-Horse Dialogue" with its famous dictum "A white horse is not a horse." The aim of Solomon’s investigation is the discovery of the rules of "language games" in the School of Names and of the key to solve their linguistic and conceptual puzzles and paradoxes. His analysis shows in all the texts he interprets an "evidence of an interest in language qua language" (p. 12), which is unique for Chinese thought in the classical era.

Bernard S. Solomon holds a Ph.D. in Far Eastern Languages of Harvard University (1952) and was a long-time Professor of Chinese in the Department of Classical and Oriental Languages at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY).

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