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Abstracts der Publikationen von
Christoph Kaderas 



Der Begriff „ren“ im Renxue des Tan Sitong (1865–1898)

Wissenschaftliche Hausarbeit zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades eines Magister Artium der Universität Hamburg / vorgelegt von Christoph Körbs aus Sankt Tönis. - 
Hamburg 1992 




Formale und typographische Konventionen







Das Leben im Krieg 



Der Untergang eines Weltbildes 



Die mandschurische Herrschaft 



Die chinesische Opposition 



Die Argumente der Reformer 



Biographische Aspekte 



Bibliographische Aspekte 



Philosophische Aspekte 



Wege und Irrwege der Forschung 



Die Frage nach dem Gebrauch von ren


Der Begriff „ren“ im Renxue



Formale Aspekte 



Die Häufigkeit des Gebrauchs zentraler Begriffe 



„Die über Mitgefühl sprechen, müssen zunächst den Uranfang verstanden haben“ Ren und die Schöpfung – Schöpfungsanfang als Textanfang? 



„Auch Mitgefühl ist nur eine Bezeichnung“ – Ren und die Referenz von Begriffen 



„Es gibt nichts als die All-Einheit des Mitgefühls“ – Ren und das Axion des universalen Monismus 



„Teilnahmslos zu sein, bedeutet, kein Mensch zu sein“ – Ren und die Unzulänglichkeit des Menschen 



Fragen, Scheinfragen und Fragwürdigkeiten 









Eidesstattliche Erklärung




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It is very interesting to analyze the perception of animals in different ages and cultures. Since we are used to viewing animals as concrete entities of the real world we might expect clear evidence in foreign taxonomies for the actual perception of this real world within the culture being investigated. Since many people believe that the Chinese way of viewing the world is radically different from ours, it seems to be beyond controversy that Chinese taxonomic systems, too, must be totally different. Time and again the pretended strangeness of things Chinese have generated Western visions of a mysterious world in the East; that is, a world where the distinction between the Same and the Other contrasts completely with our experience.

Let us consider a Chinese taxonomic system mentioned by Jorge Luis Borges, and frequently cited by various writers, historians, and philosophers. In one of his thought-provoking essays Borges quotes a “certain Chinese encyclopaedia” in which it is written that animals are divided according to a strange classification:

(a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.(1)

At first glance, a confusing taxonomy like this is grossly contradictory to everything we are familiar with. The completely different distinction between existing things, that is, the listing of objects into unfamiliar categories seems to be contrary to anything which is meaningful for us. Puzzled by the foreign taxonomy we are forced to take a different view of the world, and by looking at things differently, apparently we not only learn something about so far inconceivable systems of thought, but also about the limitation of our own.

On the one hand, in this paper I will show, why Chinese encyclopaedias (the Chinese term is leishu, or reference book) (2) differ so remarkably from their Western counterparts. On the other hand, I will remind you of some ancient European traditions of classifying creatures. When we compare Chinese taxonomic methods of ancient times with the categories applied in medieval bestiaries, we will find that there are astonishing similarities. In premodern zoology the Aristotelian tradition had accumulated a considerable amount of folklore, superstition, and moral symbolism, which were added to otherwise objective information about animals, and Christian thought, respectively. To contrast Chinese taxonomic methods with European traditions, I will turn to one of the most famous bestiaries of medieval times, the Physiologus, and describe some of the basic features of this work. Let us start with the strange Chinese encyclopaedia quoted before.

In the past, Michael Foucault stressed the fact that the strangeness of this taxonomy is not the listing of chimeras and existing beasts, but the narrowness of the distance separating fantastic animals from stray dogs, or animals that from a long way off look like flies. He pointed out, that even the alphabetical series which links each of those categories to all the others transgresses the boundaries of all possible thought.(3) Since there is a famous book of imaginary beings by Borges himself (cf. his Manual de zoología fantástic), one cannot be sure whether the example contemplated by Foucault was derived from a real Chinese encyclopaedia or purely fictional. But we do have Chinese reference books at hand that are organized in a way rather similar to the nonsensical encyclopaedia quoted in Borges.

Let us examine some representative Chinese reference books to illustrate this fact. The last chapter of the eighth century Manual for First Steps of Learning, for example, refers only to beasts. This part of the book lists the following fourteen sorts of animals: (1) phoenix, (2) crane, (3) chicken (4) hawk, (5) birds in general, (6) magpie, (7) wild goose, (8) parrot, (9) dragon, (10) fish, (11) tortoise, (12) cicada, (13) butterfly, and (14) firefly, respectively.(4) To come back to my considerations at the beginning, to understand this classification we first have to figure out the purpose for which a taxonomy like this could have been made. Moreover, we have to ask who used such a book, and what was it written for.

Looking closely at primary sources, it becomes perfectly clear that this kind of classification was worked out for anything but the identification of species. Rather, it was intended to assist candidates for the traditional Chinese civil service examinations in their composition of prose and poetry. Roughly speaking, all Chinese reference books on special topics are compilations of quotations from early literature that a candidate should be careful to include in his own writings, if he wished to impress his examiners with his familiarity with the heritage of Chinese culture—therefore Chinese reference books on animals are definitely never zoological hand-books. We have to remember that from the very beginning a Chinese scholar was instructed almost entirely in the classics, that is, in canonical Confucian texts, and, moreover, in writing essays and composing poems. To be recognized as a scholar, one had to compose essays in perfect style following a very strict pattern of Confucian concepts, on the art of government, or on something connected with political administration.

If, for example, the examiners selected a passage in the Analects of Confucius that reads, “The gentleman stands in awe of three things”, the candidate had to write an essay quoting by heart the immediately following passage of the Analects, that reads “He is in awe of the Decree of Heaven. He is in awe of great men. He is in awe of the words of the sages”.(5) Besides, he had to add orthodox commentaries, and conclude with his own explanation. Another point in judging a man’s scholarship was his ability to compose poems, or to form a couplet by composing a line that matches one given in the examination. These poems had to consist of a given number of words on a set theme and to a set rhyme. Suppose the line “In the clouds dragons concur” was given for matching, the examination candidates were expected to produce something antithetical but parallel like “In the fields sparrows quarrel”. (As a matter of fact, my example oversimplifies the rigid rules for writing, but should serve the purpose.)

It goes without saying, that under these circumstances Chinese scholars developed their very own categories to classify phenomena and objects of the world. The reference books of Chinese literati, therefore, are collections of writings that concern a given subject and are set out in a logical order relating to the writing of allusive compositions. Keeping in mind a purpose like this, it is not in the least surprising to find taxonomic methods completely different from those in present-day zoology.

If we see “dragon”, “female unicorn”, “female phoenix”, “sparrow”, and “ tortoise” subsumed under the very same class, as it is in some old Chinese reference books, there is a logical reason: all of them are so-called “good omens”. (6) Hence, to infer that Chinese readers viewed all these animals as belonging to a single species in the zoological sense of the word would be a misinterpretation of this classification. According to Chinese tradition they do belong to the same signs, nevertheless, this taxonomic method is no evidence for a different mode of thinking. Rather, readers of traditional Chinese reference books principally viewed such information on animals only as a cue for allusion. Let us have a look at some additional examples to illustrate this point. In former days a Chinese scholar might associate “sparrow”, for instance, with citations of the classics like the following:

(1) The Book of Songs says: ‘Who can say the sparrow has no horn? / How else could it bore through my house?’ (7)
(2) In the Zuo [commentary] to the Spring and Autumn [chronicle] it is said: ‘The people should be looked on as one’s children; and when a bad man is seen, he should be taken off as a hawk pursues a sparrow’. (8)

Very similar to the quotations on sparrows are canonical citations referring to dragons. In all these quotations the physical appearence of the entity mentioned is ignored, and only the name of the creature is applyed as a cue for reference to some striking passage in other writings:

(1) The Shuowen [dictionary] states: ‘In the spring the dragon ascends to the sky, and in autumn it buries itself in the watery depths’.(9)
(2) In [the text] Master Zhuang it reads: ‘[Confucius said:] At last I may say that I have seen a dragon’.(10)

Principally, in Chinese reference works the description of a given subject is seldom a factual impression of reality, but almost without exception a reference to accounts in other sources written earlier. From the very beginning, Chinese monuments of writing have exhibited this characteristic, that is, nearly every Chinese reference aid is composed exclusively of quotations. In the Classified Handbook of Plants and Animals, for instance, a famous reference book first published in the middle of the eighteenth century, objects of nature are described by reference to the very same sources quoted in similar books written a millenium earlier.(11) Compared with its predecessors, the only improvement consists in the fact that in this book not only canonical scriptures, but also innumerable commentaries to the classics were quoted extensively.

First and foremost these reference books were compiled to present all existing passages on animals generally recognized as authoritative on its subject and hence often cited. So, old Chinese works of reference not only fundamentally differ from modern encyclopaedias in their arrangement, but also with regard to their content. At least since the days of the Encyclopédie of d’Alembert and Diderot, Western encyclopaedias included original articles, designed to summarize earlier material and the current state of knowledge. In Chinese reference books, by contrast, one finds nothing but citations which are not annotated, and are usually arranged in the chronological sequence of the books and authors that were being quoted. Despite all these significant differences, there are nevertheless astonishing similarities when we compare the taxonomic method of the Chinese reference aids with the categories applied in medieval bestiaries.

The famous Physiologus (that means, “the Naturalist”), for example, contains in forty odd chapters descriptions of animals, plants, and magical minerals, which draw parallels between the world of natural history and that of religion, thus giving moral instruction. (12) Each chapter of the Physiologus is dealing with an individual animal (or natural object) beginning with the lion, and ending with the sun-lizard, that is, the sun-eel. Although many details attribute the symbolism exemplified by this work to ancient Egypt various descriptions in this book are aimed at parallels between the world of natural history and that of Christian religion. In short, above all it was designed to give moral instructions based on Christian ethics. In medieval times—with the exception of the Bible—there was perhaps no other book more widely read than the Physiologus. Christian educators dedicated their attention to natural history, because of the divine revelation in the book of nature, which it was also the believer’s duty to bear in mind. As Saint Paul said, “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). Descriptions of natural phenomena, thus were interpreted according to the scholastic method for the exegesis of the Holy Scripture.

It goes without saying, that theological teachers were not in the least prepared to question the worth of the marvellous descriptions of animals transmitted for generations on the faith of the authority vaguely known as “the naturalist”. So they took their notions of fantastic beasts on trust and strove to utilize them for religious education. Readers of the Physiologus were learning, for instance, that the vulture is assisted in birth by a stone with loose kernel, the tree frog is living on land and is killed by rain, and the phoenix revives from fire. With respect to the phoenix it reads:

“If this species of bird has the power to kill himself in such a manner as to raise himself up, how foolish are those men who grow angry at the word of the Savior, ‘I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it again’” [John 10:18]. (13)

No doubt, the subject matter of descriptions like this was not the nature of particular species nor the place occupied by animals in the system of creation, but rather to illustrate the spiritual lessons to be drawn there from—even if the animal mentioned was fantastic. On the other hand, animals known from ordinary experience, too, are described in a syncretic way which draws upon folk legends and religious allegories. The following passage on doves may serve as an example of this:

“The doves are all faithful people, as the Lord says in the Gospel, ‘Be simple as doves and clever as serpents’ [Mathew 10:16]. Be simple so that you deceive no one, and clever lest snares trip you up.”(14)

By the end of the twelfth century popular animal-repositories had developed, which tended to condense former animal legends, including those of the Physiologus. Here we also find the characteristics of animals described by citations that ignore their real physical appearance in the same way as the Chinese reference books quoted before. In one of these books, belonging to the genre of collecteana, entitled Book of Birds, we are told, for instance, that “According to the Gospels, [there] are not two sparrows sold for a farthing and five for two farthings”.(15) Likewise we read that “the voice of Moses taught that if anyone will be cleansed of leprosy he should offer two sparrows”. (16) In all of these medieval books the name of a creature is applied exclusively as a cue for reference to passages in orthodox scriptures. With the help of scholastic hermeneutics, then, ancient legends on animals are transformed into Christian fables in which every phrase has its allegorical significance.

As indicated above, throughout history the taxonomy of living organisms was often superficial, and always arose according to the needs of its users. Even today in some respects modern zoological taxonomies are sometimes arbitrary. Anglo-Saxon terms such as worm or fish, for instance, have been used to refer to any creeping creature (e.g., snake, earthworm, or even dragon), and to any swimming animal as well. Although the term fish is common to the names shellfish, crayfish, and starfish, there are more anatomical differences between a shellfish and a starfish than there are between a bony fish and a man. So, scientific determination is one thing, ordinary descriptions of what we witness in everyday life is something else. To put this another way, these remarkably different taxonomies of ancient time we have been talking about were transmitted in books, and originated from the minority of scholars educated in canonical scriptures. Their interest in animals was literary, not zoological. Taxonomies of ancient scholars, however peculiar they may be, are not evidence for different modes of thinking, but proof of different methods and applications. One can say for sure that even in early times there was to a certain extent realistic knowledge of animals; still, it was transmitted only orally by illiterates. Since today we only have written testimonies of literate people, it is mere conjecture what this orally transmitted knowledge was like.(17) It is a much-discussed fact that the ancient Chinese sciences were not united in a single cognitive endeavor like the medieval European scientia. But the fact that the sciences in China were not parts of one body of cognitive knowledge analogous to the premodern natural philosophy of Europe does not help to explain Chinese taxonomies like those cited above.(18) To sum up, it could be said that zoological knowledge of ancient time was above all referring to scholarly learning, it did not refer to any scientific theory—in China just as little as in medieval Europe.

Finally, it becomes perfectly clear that old Chinese taxonomic methods differed widely from those of the West since the time of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, but we need not dwell on comparisons of this kind. They tell us nothing at all about what we can expect to learn from foreign taxonomic traditions. Besides, to enlist Umberto Eco for our purpose, it might be stated that the arrangement of Western encyclopaedias like the seventh-century Etymologies of Isidore of Seville is by no means more reasonable than the nonsensical Chinese taxonomy in Borges.(19) As mentioned in the beginning, the purpose of any taxonomy is to provide information relating to something the name of which is known by the user. Primarily, our amazement at the apparently strange classification systems introduced above all results from the fact, that the user of ancient reference aids related their information on animals according to purposes long forgotten today. It makes no difference if you analyze ancient Chinese or medieval reference books, all their descriptions of animals are referring not to creatures existing objectively, but only to imaginary ones: they belong to the realm of canonical literature, not to the realm of nature. The groups of beasts identified or created by ancient users correspond to literary descriptions of what is to be found exclusively in orthodox scriptures. It is self-evident that taxonomies derived from characteristics for the identification of imaginative animals are totally different from zoological classifications, and vice versa.

As we see, not in the real world, but in the realm of literature sparrows and dragons actually belong to the same species—at least when we talk about Chinese specimens of these species.

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(1)  George Luis Borges, “El idioma analítico de John Wilkins”, in: Otras Inquisiciones (Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1960), p.142. 
(2)  Since western encyclopaedias are closely bound with European tradititions of thought, in my opinion it is much better to refer to so-called “Chinese encyclopaedias” or Leishu as books of reference.
(3)  As Foucault noted, “Ce qui transgresse toute imagination, toute pensée possible, c’est simplement la série alpabétique (a, b, c, d) qui lie à toutes les autres chacune de ces catégories” (Les mots et les choses: une archéologie des sciences humaines (Paris: Gallimard, 1990), p. 8); in Foucault’s preface he mentioned, that his book arose out of this passage in Borges (see p. 7). 
(4)  Cf. Chuxue ji or Manual for First Steps of Learning (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1962), vol. 3, pp. 723–752. For the most part, the Chuxue ji dates back to the turn of the 8th century. 
(5)  See D.C. Lau (transl.), The Analects (London: Penguin, 1979), p. 140. 
(6)  Cf. for example Yiwen leiju or Categorized Reference Book of Literary Writings(Beijing: Zhongwen, 1965), vol. 2, pp. 1693–1721. This reference aid, compiled under imperial auspices in the early 7th century, was designed to provide candidates of the civil service examinations with examples for excellent literary phrases. 
(7)  See James Legge (transl.), The Chinese Classics (Taibei: Southern Materials Center, 1985), vol. 4, p. 27. The Shijing or Book of Songs contains poems, which may be dated between 1000 and 600 B.C., and were said to have been collected by Confucius. 
(8)  Op. cit., vol. 5, p. 517. The Spring and Autumn or Chunqiu is a canonical text that reports events of the ancient state Lu covering the period from 722 to 481 B.C. 
(9)  See Xu Shen (comp.),Shuowen jiezi (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979), p. 245. The work Explanation on Characters or Shuowen is the first comprehensive dictionary of Chinese characters and its main parts were completed in c. 100 A.D. 
(10)  See Chen Guying (comp.), Zhuangzi jinzhu jinshi (Beijing: Zhunghua, 1993), p. 382. The text Master Zhuang or Zhuangzi in one of the two basic texts of the early Daoist tradition. At least to some extent it dates back to the third century B.C. 
(11)  Cf. Classified Handbook of Plants and Animals or “Huamu niaoshou jilei”, in: Siku quanshu (Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 1987), vol. 1034 [sic], pp. 1–112. 
(12)  The Physiologus was a very popular book in the middle ages. It has generally been accepted that this work was originally compiled by scholars of the schools of Alexandria, and was in circulation around the second Century A.D. Originally translated into Greek, both Byzantine and Western versions being translated into oriental as well as into modern European languages. The most important study on this work remains F. Lauchert, Geschichte des Physiologus (Strassburg: Karl J. Trübner, 1889); for recent studies see Michael J. Curley, Physiologus (Austin and London: Univ. of Texas, 1979). 
(13)  Michael Culey, Physiologus, p. 14. 
(14)  Op. cit., p. 29. 
(15)  The Medieval Book of Birds: Hugh of Fouilloy’s Aviarium, ed. and transl. by Willene B. Clark (Binghamton, New York: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1992), p. 167; cf. Matthew 10:29, and Luke 12:6. 
(16)  Op. cit., p. 169; cf. Leviticus 14:4–7. 
(17)  As to China there is a pioneering analysis of this problem by Nathan Sivin: “Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Take Place in China—or Didn’t It?”, in: Chinese Science 5 (1982), pp. 45–66. 
(18)  A general bibliography on this topic, along with a discussion of the characteristics of scientific traditions in China is found in Nathan Sivin, “Science and Medicine in Imperial China—the State of the Field”, in: The Journal of Asian Studies 47.1 (1988), pp. 41–90.  
(19)  With respect to Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies (c. 623) Umberto Eco states verbatim: “La divisione è chiaramente disorganica e fa venire in mente la ormai classica tassonomia impropria di Borges”; see his Arte e bellezza nell’estetica medievale (Milano: Bompiani, 1987), p. 85. In book twelve, entitled “De animalibus”, Isidore derived much material common to the Physiologus, although he omits the allegorical parts of the descriptions. 


(This paper was presented at the Fifth Conference of the ISSEI on
Memory and History: European Identity at the Millenium
at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, 19–24 August 1996)

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Die Leishu der imperialen Bibliothek des Kaisers Qianlong (reg. 1736–1796): Untersuchungen zur chinesischen Enzyklopädie.

Obwohl es im traditionellen China Enzyklopädien im europäischem Sinne nie gegeben hat, wird in Abhandlungen der westlichen Sinologie fast immer von chinesischen Enzyklopädien gesprochen, wenn von Leishu die Rede ist. Diese Studie bietet eine sprachhistorische Analyse der beiden Begriffe „leishu“ und „Enzyklopädie“. 

Nach prinzipiellen Überlegungen über die Grundlagen vergleichender Kulturgeschichte werden 65 Werke dieser Gattung porträtiert, die in dem berühmten Siku quanshu enthalten sind. Neben Bedeutungs- und Inhaltsangaben beinhalten diese Werkbeschreibungen auch Hinweise auf die wichtigsten Ausgaben, Referenzwerke sowie Hilfsmittel der Sekundärliteratur. Angaben zum Aufbau und zur Funktion der einzelnen Bücher machen verständlich, warum leishu als ein Spiegel des Allgemeinwissens ihrer Zeit gelten können. 

Umfangreiche Indizes und ein systematischer Aufbau machen dieses Buch auch für Studenten zu einem handlichen Nachschlagewerk, das wichtige Einblicke in die Gelehrtenkultur des alten China gibt. 


Vorwort IX
Einleitung 1
Der Begriff der ‚chinesischen Enzyklopädie' 5
2.1  Zur sinologischen Begriffsbestimmung 5
2.2  Zur Etymologie der Begriffe ‚lei' und ‚shu' 12
2.3  Der Terminus technicus ‚leishu' 17
2.4  Das Wort ‚leishu' als Buchtitelbestandteil 22
2.5  Die Begriffe ‚lei' und ‚leishu' in Werktiteln historischer ‚leishu'  31
Der Begriff der ‚europäischen Enzyklopädie' 36
3.1  Zum sprachgeschichtlichen Hintergrund 36
3.2  Fragen der Komparatistik 39
3.3  Zur pädagogischen Bedeutung 42
Analysen 45
4.1  Kriterien für die Auswahl des Analysematerials 45
4.2  Die ‚leishu' des Siku quanshu: Vorbemerkungen 48
4.3  Die ‚leishu' des Siku quanshu: Werkbeschreibungen 51
4.4  Das Gujin tong xingming lu [LSL 1]  51
4.5  Das Bianzhu [LSL 2]  53
4.6  DasYiwen leiju[LSL 3]  57
4.7  DasBeitang shuchao[LSL 4]  60
4.8  DasLongjin fengsui pan[LSL 5]  63
4.9  DasChuxue ji[LSL 6]  67
4.10 DasYuanhe xingzuan[LSL 7]  70
4.11 DasBo Kong liutie[LSL 8]  71
4.12 DasXiaoming lu[LSL 9]  75
4.13 DasMengqiu jizhu[LSL 10]  77
4.14 DasShilei fu[LSL 11]  81
4.15 DasTaiping yulan[LSL 12]  83
4.16 DasCefu yuangui[LSL 13]  89
4.17 DasShiwu jiyuan[LSL 14]  93
4.18 DasShibin lu[LSL 15]  97
4.19 DasShuxu zhinan[LSL 16]  99
4.20 DasHailu suishi[LSL 17]  101
4.21 DasGujin xingshi shubian zheng[LSL 18]  104
4.22 DasDiwang jingshi tupu[LSL 19]  106
4.23 DasZhiguan fenji[LSL 20]  109
4.24 DasLidai zhidu xiangshuo[LSL 21]  112
4.25 DasBamian feng[LSL 22]  128
4.26 DasJinxiu wanhua gu[LSL 23]  117
4.27 DasGujin shiwen leiju[LSL 24]  120
4.28 DasJizuan yuanhai[LSL 25]  125
4.29 DasMingxian shizu yanxing leigao[LSL 26]  127
4.30 DasQunshu huiyuan jiejiang gang[LSL 27]  129
4.31 DasQuanfen beizu ji[LSL 28]  133
4.32 DasQunshu kaosuo[LSL 29]  136
4.33 DasGujin hebi shilei beiyao[LSL 30]  141
4.34 DasGujin yuanliu zhilun[LSL 31]  146
4.35 DasYuhai[LSL 32]  149
4.36 DasXiaoxue ganzhu[LSL 33]  153
4.37 DasXingshi jijiu pian[LSL 34]  158
4.38 DasXiaozi lu[LSL 35]  160
4.39 DasJile[LSL 36]  163
4.40 DasLiutie bu[LSL 37]  165
4.41 DasHanyuan xinshu[LSL 38]  167
4.42 DasYunfu qunyu[LSL 39]  171
4.43 DasChunzheng mengqiu[LSL 40]  174
4.44 DasPaiyun zengguang shilei shizu daquan[LSL 41]  177
4.45 DasMingyi[LSL 42]  179
4.46 DasJingchuan baibian[LSL 43]  184
4.47 DasWanxing tongpu[LSL 44]  187
4.48 DasYulin[LSL 45]  191
4.49 DasJingji leibian[LSL 46]  194
4.50 DasTong xingming lu[LSL 47]  197
4.51 DasShuolüe[LSL 48]  201
4.52 DasTianzhong ji[LSL 49]  203
4.53 DasTushu bian[LSL 50]  206
4.54 DasPianzhi[LSL 51]  211
4.55 DasShantang sikao[LSL 52]  214
4.56 DasGu lifu[LSL 53]  217
4.57 DasGuang bowu zhi[LSL 54]  220
4.58 DasYuanjian leihan[LSL 55]  223
4.59 DasPianzi leibian[LSL 56]  227
4.60 DasFenlei zijin[LSL 57]  230
4.61 DasZishi jinghua[LSL 58]  233
4.62 DasPeiwen yunfu[LSL 59]  236
4.63 DasYunfu shiyi[LSL 60]  240
4.64 DasGezhi jingyuan[LSL 61]  242
4.65 DasDushu jishu lüe[LSL 62]  245
4.66 DasHuamu niaoshou jilei[LSL 63]  249
4.67 DasBiehao lu[LSL 64]  251
4.68 DasSongbai leichao[LSL 65]  254
Ergebnisse 257
5.1  Zur Typologisierung von ‚leishu'  257
5.2  Zum Aufbau von ‚leishu'  259
5.3  Zur Systematisierung von ‚leishu'  264
5.4  Zur Funktion von ‚leishu'  268
5.5  Der Begriff ‚leishu' – eine Definition  276
5.6  Perspektiven  278
Anhang 281
6.1  Alphabetisches Register der ‚leishu' desSiku quanshu 281
6.2  Erstes Zeichenglossar: Register der aufgeführten Standardrubriken  282
6.3  Zweites Zeichenglossar: Register der Werktitel und Verfassernamen  307
Literaturverzeichnis 317
7.1  Abkürzungsverzeichnis  317
7.2  Chinesische Quellen  318
7.3  Chinesische Sekundärliteratur  322
7.4  Japanische Sekundärliteratur  325
7.5  Sekundärliteratur in westlichen Sprachen  326


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Beiträge eines Symposiums an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:





Prof. Dr. Florian C. Reiter




Prof. Dr. Florian C. Reiter 



Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Meyer 



Prof. Dr. R. Rentner 



Barbara John



Die historische Entwicklung des Auslandstudiums von Chinesen in Deutschland


Militärische Ausbildung und Universitätsausbildung – Chinesisches Deutschlandstudium vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg 
Thomas Harnisch 



Studenten und Revolutionäre: Chinesen in Berlin (1929–1949)
Dagmar Yü-Dembski 



Chinesische Studierende in Ostberlin und deren Wünsche: die 50er bis Anfang der 60er Jahre
Yang Enlin



Taiwanesische Studenten in Deutschland in den 90er Jahren
Hao Zhang



Die Entwicklung des Auslandsstudiums der Chinesen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland seit den 70er Jahren
Meng Hong



Studenten- und Wissenschaftleraustausch mit der Volksrepublik China
Udo Hornberger



Lamento d’Arianna oder: Impressionen aus der Arbeit
Hansgünther Schmidt



Erfahrungen über das Studium, Leben und Arbeiten in Berlin und Deutschland


Chinesische Studierende an der Humboldt-Universität
Ursula Grawert 



Meine ersten Eindrücke vom Leben in Deutschland
Ma Kunlun



The Current Situation of Taiwan Students in Berlin
Zhou Jingyuan 



Katholische Initiativen für den Austausch mit chinesischen Studierenden und Wissenschaftlern in Deutschland



Die Spuren berühmter Chinesen in Deutschland


Berichte von Chinesen über die Verhältnisse in Berlin nach dem ersten Weltkrieg
Roland Felber



Zhang Baihua (1896–1986) und sein ästhetisches Werk
Wolfgang Kubin



Über einen der bedeutendsten Atomphysiker Chinas, Wang Ganchang und dessen Studienufenthalt in Deutschland
Niu Zhichuan



Hu Lanqi, eine legendäre Frau
Li Shixun



Cai Yuanpei und die Rezeption der deutschen klassischen Universitätsidee in China Anfang dieses Jahrhunderts 
Cai Hongjie



Eigenheiten chinesischer im Ausland studierender Intellektueller der Neuzeit: Cai Yuanpeis Studienaufrenthalt in Deutschland
Cai Jianguo



Ziele, Bedeutung und Perspektiven des Auslandsstudiums von Chinesen in Deutschland


Aufenthalte chinesischer Studenten und Wissenschaftler in Amerika in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts
Zhang Baichun



Auslandsstudium – Perspektive und Bilanz
Klaus W. Döring


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Despite the distances between them and their totally different cultures, there has been more or less continous communication between the West and China since classical Greek times. Although the connection was indirect and limited to trade and luxury goods, there were even in ancient times marvelous resemblances between Western and Chinese inventions in technology and engeneering. Therefore it is natural to believe that a transmisssion of ideas and knowledge must have occurred, even if it is impossible to describe the exact ways and dating of the exchange of any particular scientific achievement.

In the thirteenth century there was some considerable personal contact between the West and China, of which that of William of Ruisbroek (1210–1270), Marco Polo (1254–1324), and Odoric of Pordenone (1286–1331) are but the most famous examples. By the end of the sixteenth century in China an era of isolation ended and a new stage of intercultural exchange began. In this period the first Jesuit missionary fathers entered China, bringing with them knowledge of the sciences of Renaissance Europe. The Jesuits’ scientific instruction was intended to aid their religious teaching by adding to the prestige of the culture they represented.

Although in many respects Chinese technology was more advanced than European technology until the Renaissence, it lost ground in subsequent centuries. Francis Bacon (1561–1626) saw Chinese inventions, namely the magnetic compass, gunpowder, and the printing press, as crucial for the transformation of European society. But after the generation of Leibniz (1646–1716), Wolff (1679–1754), and Voltaire (1694–1778) with the end of the Enlightenment movement, European philosophers and historians began to speak in a disparaging way of Chinese culture.

From the late eighteenth century on, the myth of a closed China was born, and Europeans saw the scientific exchange between China and the outside world solely in terms of what the Chinese borrowed from the West. Though Chinese technological advances were old and undeniable, many authors of textbooks on the history of science, technology, and medicine still asssured their readers that China never created science as a persisting institution and never consciously developed technology on the sound basis of a theory for applied science.

The British historian of science Joseph Needham (1900–1995) with his workScience and Civilisation in China, began to restore the reputation of China as a cradle of scientific inventions. He showed the patterns of transmission of these inventions and enriched the knowledge of Chinese science and technology.

Nathan Sivin, an American historian, introduced a different angle. He presented the argument that it is impossible to equate divisions of modern science and engineering with premodern Chinese divisions. Chinese science was not integrated under the authority of philosophy, as schools and universities merged them in European and islamic cultures. The Chinese had sciences but not „science“, not a single conception or word for the sum of all scientific divisions. Traditional Chinese terms for science might exclude empirical methods but include ethical or religious principles discovered through reflection on authoritative texts.

Since there is neither sound evidence for early adoption of Chinese science in the West, nor agreement whether Chinesee science is distinct from sciences in the West, we have to answer each complex of questions separately. First of all, when immediate contact between China and the West was too limited to be noteworthy, we have to determine if the Western world owed much to foreign influences which in turn made use of knowledge from China. Second, we must ask whether the conception of Chinese sciences inevitably leads to disparaging treatment by those scholars who are measuring two radically different things by the same standard.

To draw a more balanced picture of Chinese scientific thought, we have to look for autochthonous features of ancient Chinese sciences and explain their characteristics.

To solve the first part of the puzzle, we have to consult Chinese historical records which contained much information on foreign relationships. Although there is clear evidence for Arabic, Babylonian, and Indian relations with China, recent archaeological finds demonstrate the originality of Chinese culture in many ways. We still do not know enough about the routes and intermediaries by which neighboring states imported cultural artifacts from China. Many transmissions which finally reached the West tranformed Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and Greek contributions simultaneously.

Under the Han rule (221 B.C.–A.D. 220), as a result of military campaigns and diplomatic activities, China’s immediate contacts with other cultures grew to a degree so far unrivaled in Chinese history. In this period China spread her concepts and skills around all of Asia. As early as 130 B.C. Chinese government officials set out to explore the routes into Central Asia and North China. The success of these missions is very difficult to reexamine, and yet it is probable, because in the official documents of these times we find many references to China’s intercultural exchange. The first record of official visitors arriving at the Han court from Japan is for the year A.D. 57, and we can furnish proof of a mission from Rome which had reached China by Ship in A.D. 166.

Under the Sui reign (589–618), when China was consolidated again, grandiose plans aiming to unify the empire culminated in projects for new canal systems. As a result a geat canal linking central and southern China was constructed, and long campaigns in Manchuria and on the Korean frontier were prepared. There was a direct relationship between waterway construction works and active foreign policy. Using the new canals for logistical support, the Sui realm was able to establish soverignty over old Chinese settlements in the south, and extend its influence to other territories, especially in central Vietnam. In addition to these military operations expeditions were sent to Taiwan, and relations with Japan were opened. Sui colonies were established along the great western trade routes, and rulers of several minor local states of Central Asia became tributaries. This was the time when China was in contact with the eastern Turks, who occupied most of the Chinese northern frontier, and the even more powerful western Turks, whose dominions streched westward to the north of the Tarim Basin as far as Sassanid Persian and Afghanistan. We can learn from the writings of the Arabian scientist and philosopher Al-Bîrûnî (973–1048) that the Turkish sphere of influence was a fertile soil for intercultural exchange. As a consequence of the history of Turkish engagement in Inner Asia remarkable transmissions of technological know-how took place and helped to spread, among other things, Chinese defense engineering and mechanical skills

Various imports and influences into Arabic empires originated essentially from China, or were at least transmitted through the intermediary of the Turks. As we can prove by discoveries of imported pottery and textiles the links between Iran in the Sassanid period (226–651 A.D.) and China were extremely close. With the decay of Turkish power the new Tang dynasty (618–906) extended its power all over East Asia. Chinese western dominions extended even farther than in the great days of the Han, and trade developed with the West, with Central Asia, and with India. The Chinese capital was thronged with foreign merchants and monks. Every great city contained a variety of non-Chinese communities and had Zoroastrian, Mazdean, and Nestorian temples, along with Buddhist monasteries. This set the stage for even more transfer of knowledge and inventions.

Perhaps it is not exaggerated to call China under the Song rule (960–1279) the most advanced civilization at the time. During the Song dynasty an agricultural revolution produced plentiful supplies for a population of more than one hundred million. Acreage under cultivation multiplied in all directions, and a variety of early ripening rice, imported during the eleventh century from regions in modern Vietnam and Cambodia, shortened farming time to below one hundred days and made two crops a year the norm and three crops possible in the warm South. Among other new crops the most important was cotton, which provided clothing for rich and poor alike; silk and hemp were also important. Improved tools, new implements, and mechanical devices that rised manpower efficiency were widely used. Although advanced skills were guardeed as trade secrets, many technical inventions of these times found their way into printed manuals used at home and abroad. Productivity of such minerals as lead, tin, silver, and gold increased tremendously. In manufacturing the Chinese improved processing in skill-intensive patterns; they began with mass production, and a division of labor as well, while skills and products entered into diversified specializaton. High quality earthen ware progressed to genuine porcelain, which attained international fame.


Despite the fact that until the early eleventh century Chinese maritime trade had been dominated by foreigners, Chinese artisans developed a new type of ship at the end of the century, helping the Song empire to take control over the transport of merchandise and passengers across the waters of East Asia. The Chinese ocean-going junks with large proportions and tonnage were bigger, more solid, but also more comfortable than the Arabian and Indian ships. From the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries the Chinese fleet was at the peak of its power, at least on the routes linking China with the ports of south India. Chinese trade with Southeast Asia increased for the very last time in the end of the fourteenth century when China flooded Sumatra and Borneo with ceramics, and also coins, in exchange for spices, aromatics, medicinal drugs, and precious woods. Chinese ceramics of this period have been found in quite large quantities not only along the silk road, but on the sites of ancient ports or depots along the navigation routes towards Indonesia, and also in the great commercial cities of the Middle East.

In the fourteenth century after the Mongol conquest of China and the founding of the Yuan dynasty (1280–1367) Europeans developed a lively interest in Chinese affairs. The Roman Catholic Church also looked for potential converts among the non-Muslim people of Asia. After Franciscan envoys brought back information on what was known as China in the midthirteenth century, Pope Nicholas IV dispatched a mission to the court of the Grand Khan. The Mongol capital Khanbaliq (e.g. Beijing) became the seat of an archbishopric, and in 1323 a bishopric was established. From then on missionaries traveled to China and brought back firsthand information to medieval Europe. These reports inaugurated an era of discoveries and created a new vision of the world, with China as a part. Furthermore, shortly after direct contact with China was established, European philosophers and clerics speculated upon Chinese modes of thinking. Chinese medical treatises were translated into Persian, and Persian pottery techniques show some influences of Chinese handicraft. In addition, Chinese-type administration and chancellery practices were adopted by various Mongol dominions in Central Asia and the Near East. Some scholars suggested that the invention of gunpowder and printing in Europe was due to a sort of stimulus diffusion from China, although there is no sound evidence for a direct influene from China via the Near East.

During the Ming reign (1368–1644) Europe was unable to maintain its contacts with the Far East, partially because the black death brooke off many overseas trade relations. Toward the end of the forteenth century China was almost forgotten. Meanwhile Ming dynasty bureaucracy reoriented foreign policy, which made foreign contacts much more difficult. Ming China’s influence in Southern Asia reached its climax during the early fifteenth century when official exploratory voyages brought most important South Asian states into the Ming political sphere. Besides protecting China’s southern borders, these voyages were undertaken to monopolize the overseas trade by preventing private individuals from taking control of seafaring activities. Foreign states responded to these overtures not only because they feared military reprisals if they refused, but also because they saw great commercial benefits in relations with China. In these years Chinese missions established contacts with most of the important countries from the Philippines to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the east coast of Africa.

The Ming rulers also maintained China’s traditional relationships with foreign peoples; they took for granted that the Chinese emperor was everyone’s overlord and that other rulers of non-Chinese states were in a strict sense nothing but feudatories. Foreign rulers were expected to acknowledge the supremacy of the Ming emperor and to send periodic missions to the Ming capital to demonstrate their fealty and present tribute of local commodities. Tributary envoys from continental neighbors were received in selected frontier zones while those from overseas states were only accepted at three key ports on the southeast and south coasts. All envoys received valuable gifts in acknowledgment of the tribute they presented and also were permitted to buy and sell private trade goods at officially supervised markets. Luxury goods flowed out of China and some rarities flowed in. In order to preserve the government’s monopolistic control of foreign contacts and trade, and to keep the Chinese people from being tainted by so-called barbarian customs, the Ming rulers prohibited private dealings between Chinese and foreigners and forbade any private voyaging abroad.

In the sixteenth century China came into contact with Jesuit missionaries who impressed the Chinese with the superiority of Western astronomy. The most famous of them, Adam Schall von Bell (1591–1666) was trained in Rome in the astronomical system of Galileo. After curing the Empress Dowager of a strange illness, Schall became an important adviser to the first emperor of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911/12). He soon was given an official post and he also translated Western astronomical books and reformed the old Chinese calendar. Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), another Jesuit, printed the first edition of his remarkable map of the world, theGreat Map of Ten Thousend Countries, which showed China’s geographical relation to the rest of the world. Moreover Ricci taught the rudiments of mathematics and translated many mathematical treatises on Western science and engineering into Chinese, notably the first six books of Euclid. At the same time, many books and correspondences of Catholics like Ricci were published in Europe and caused an interest in Chinese culture. This period of intensive cultural exchange came to an end with the imperial decree of 1717 which prohibited the preaching of Christianity and ordered the deportation of all missionaries from the empire with the exception of those working at the court.

From this time on, for more than one hundred years China reduced her contact with the West to a minimum. Trade was rigidly limited to a few ports where officials regulated it strictly and taxed all merchandise excessively. Chinese attitudes towards foreign relations clashed with those of the rising Western powers, especially after the newly expanding states of Britain, France, and Holland all began to develop major overseas empires. In these times, during the last decades of the eighteenth century, China’s image changed, and Chinese affairs were viewed in a rather negative way. After the turn of the century China no longer received favorable attention in the West, but metamorphosed into the very archetype of a backward country. By teaching the Chinese the science and technology of the West, Europeans believed they had to stimulate the scientific development of a culture without any noteworthy tradition of its own. For a very long time it was quiet inconceivable to Europeans that China had anything to offer in return.

As mentioned above, to draw a more balanced picture of Chinese scientific thought, we have to look for special features of ancient Chinese sciences and explain their singulrities. It is easy to understand why traditional Chinese sciences are hard to describe in the modern terms of Western science or engineering. For example the Chinese science of geomancy, (fengshui, or wind and water) cannot be assigned to any department of modern science. Since the concepts of geomancy differ significantly from premodern European natural philosophy, even recourse to ancient traditions of the West does not help. The geomancer aimed to adapt the dwelling places of the living and the dead in a suitable way to arrange them in harmony with the energy balances existing in a region. In Chinese thought every place has its peculiar topographical characteristics which can alter the local energies of nature. Directions of watercourses, shapes of wooded areas, or forms of hills are treated as important aspects for everything living in this region, and the forms and structure of objects built by humans are believed to be significant factors too. As the art of geomancy was dedicated to exploring the relations between the landscape and the living conditions of its habitants, it was an official state science, directed by the Board of Rites in the capital and patronized by the emperor himself.

Western scientists who have written about geomancy agree that this science recognizes certain types of energy which permeate the earth and atmosphere and animate the forms of nature. Further understanding has been obstructed by the impossibility of equating these energies with phenomena recognized by modern physics. In one aspect they evidently correspond to the emanations from the earth which are detected by water-diviners, or to the earth’s magnetic currents. In another aspect they correlate to traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Just as Chinese doctors commanded a great diversity of therapies and techniques, which they generally used in combination, geomancers did the same, and so traditionally both techniques are described as departments of the same science. Acupuncture is based on the same principles as geomancy, being concerned with the flow of subtle energies in the human body which correspond to those perceived by geomancy in the body of the earth. These remarkably abstract and comprehensive systems of acupuncture and geomancy are based on concepts describing the relations of the body, the mind, the immediate physical surroundings of the body, the earth, and the cosmos which are very different concepts from those in the West. What makes geomancy even more complicatedare the differences between special schools of this science. One school believed that natural shapes in the landscape tended to affect the characters and destinies of those living within sight of them, while another school paid more attention to astronomical factors, horoscopes, and reading of the geomancer’s compass. In Western terms geomancy seems like a mixture of obscure medicine, applied proto-physics, esoteric speculation, superstition, or even swindling.

Another example of the interrelationship of different branches of traditional Chinese learning are the alchemical sciences (fulian). We can distinguish two major divisions of alchemy, internal (neidan) and external (waidan). Internal alchemy was concerned with longevity practices and interpreted immortality as the highest kind of health. A special branch also existed for the alchemical process of internal transformations. Adepts of this school considered the interior of the human body as a laboratory in with elixirs could grow by meditation, breath control, or sexual gymnastics.

In theories of external alchemy, the transmutation of metals into gold and the production of universal remedies for diseases was the focus of interest. Chinese adepts of external alchemy by and large were not interested in exploring chemical reactions, but in simulating cosmicc series of transformation and creation. In the laboratories alchemists intended to produce new substances by means of allegorical imitation of natural phenomena rather than by means of controlled chemical experiments.

It is important to outline some Chinese cosmological ideas briefly. This will help us to relate theories of creation and change to patterns of Chinese mathematical astronomy (lifa) and astrology (tianwen). In traditional Chinese thought ideas about the origin of the world do not involve any concept of creation by an almighty creator but only by impersonal processes of spontaneous self-creation. The first fully developed cosmological idea is thegaitian (heaven as cover, or umbrella heaven) theory, whose origins are around the first century A.D., although its first traces are to be found as early as 239 B.C. According to this theory, heaven and earth are flat and parallel planes. A variation of this theory depicts heaven and earth as bodies having a mild curvature very similar to the curvature of an umbrella. In both theories heaven is thought to rotate once daily about an imaginary axis, normally held to be vertical, and carrying with it all the stars and heavenly bodies. Since the observer is some distance from the vertical axis, it is no contradiction that the polestar is not overhead. Rising and setting of the sun, moon, and the stars are an optical illusion caused by their entering and leaving the observer’s pretended narrow range of vision. Advanced variations of this theory initiated the idea of a spherical or complete heaven (huntian) which was thought to surround the earth and rotate daily about an axis inclined to the horizontal. In this theory heaven and earth are compared with the shell and yolk of an egg, e.g. the earth is said to be completely enclosed by heaven, rather than merely covered from above. Chinese astronomers continued to think in flat-earth terms until the seventeenth century, when Jesuit missionaries introduced Western theories.

Traditional Chinese astronomy does not use a zodiac of twelve signs laid out along the sun’s annual path through the constellations. The celestial sphere is sliced into twenty-eight unequal segments, which are said to radiate from the north celestial pole in the same way in which lines of longitude radiate from the poles of a terrestrial globe. These slices are called lunar mansions or lodges (xiu). Each mansion bears the name of the constellation found in it. By means of this system, astronomers were able to follow the progress of the stars in the sky, but the mansions also have an astrological funktion. Each mansion has a corresponding terrestial territory to which the predictions based on phenomena observed in the sky are applied. The appearance of comets, haloes, or clouds guided the actions of the governors of the states associated with the mansions where those phenomena were observed. Along with the mansion system, twenty-four guiding stars were chosen by which the position of the order stars in the sky could be determined. In this, Chinese astronomy differs greatly from Greek helical astronomy, which is based on the observation of the rising and setting of stars just before dawn and just after dusk. In China, where the celestial pole symbolized the Emperor, astronomers studied the circumpolar movements of the constellations around the Pole.

Another science very closely related to mathematical astronomy and in the same way entirely different from its Western correspondent is Chinese astrology. To distinguish mathematical astronomy from astrology we have to remember that from the very beginning astronomy was designed to make celestial phenomena predictable, whereas astrology served as an aid for interpretations of those phenomena which were unpredictable. In the West astrology is in a way the same as horoscopy, but in the Chinese context astrology and horoscopy differ widely. In traditional China the appearance of celestial phenomena guided the actions of the governors of the states. The Chinese astrologer observed and interpreted anomalous celestial or meteorological phenomena to reveal faults and shortcomings in the political order. There was a close correspondence between the cosmic and the political domains. For instance, from the second century B.C. there has been the theory of fenye (field allocation). The sky was mapped upon political segments, so that strange phenomena discovered in a particular segment could be related directly to the corresponding political realm existing on earth. Throughout Chinese history the mediator between celestial circumstances and mundane affairs was the Emperor, who was responsible for the undisturbed course of all regularities on heaven and earth. Therefore, astrologers interpreted celestial omens as indications of imperial negligence or correctness. This attitude towards celestial phenomena also influenced calendrical and planetary astronomy. As a result of this attitude towards omens, almost every government aimed to control and sponsor mathematical astronomy and astrology.

Since changes in the heavens predicted important changes on the earth, Chinese astronomy and astrology were incorporated into the system of government from the dawn of the Chinese state in the second millenium B.C. The result was a system of astronomical observations and records, thanks to which star catalogs and observations of eclipses and novae that go back for millenia survived. Chinese records, therefore, are still of value to every student of the history of astronomy. In our times Western astronomers have identified ancient Chinese observations of the sudden appearance of bright stars with the supernova explosions whose remainders have been detected by radio astronomy. Moreover, observations of sunspots made from the first century B.C. onwards helped to solve some problems of the variation of solar activity over the centuries.

Astronomy and astrology had no real effect on Chinese mathematics (xuanxue). On the whole Chinese mathematics was algebraic and numerical in its approach rather than geometric. Since ancient Chinese mathematics was primarily oriented toward practical application, any search for the hypothetical meaning of numbers was rather a system of occultism built around numbers than an exploration into the realm of abstract mathematics. Historians of mathematics have claimed that only the Greeks produced an abstract, logical mathematics that could function as the language of science. Chinese mathematics, however, consisted of reckoning rules, and, in spite of their great sophistication, these were only intended for practical use.

Perhaps mathematics serves best to demonstrate the whole problem of contingent affection of the West by China. In the first phase this Chinese science was disregarded, because it was inconceivable that a non-European culture was endowed with an efficient mathematical system. In the second phase, a few Western scholars made an attempt to understand such things as an abacus or counting-rods, but still theoretical primary sources were not used. In the next phase mathematical treatises were carefully studied and summarized in a reliable form. Today we can find several first hand characterizations of the subject by experts in this field, but it is very difficult to obtain a balanced picture. It is clear that ignorance of Chinese sciences was mainly caused by misunderstanding.

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Although criticized since the early fourth century B.C. for teachings which were difficult to be carried into practice, when contemplating social obligations even today the ancient Chinese philosopherMo Di (ca. 480 B.C.), or Master Mo (Mo Zi), deserves our attention. Since Mo Di had the reputation of “desiring the peace and repose of the world in order to preserve the lives of the people, ” and, moreover, “ceasing his action when enough had been obtained for the nourishment of others and himself,(1) there are good reasons to reflect on some aspects of his doctrines.

According to tradition, Mo Di was originally a follower of the teachings of Confucius, until he began to take the suffering of the common people more into consideration. In his own teachings Mo Di developed an approach to normative ethics in which action is held to be right if it tends to promote happiness—not only that of the agent but of everyone affected by his actions. Thus, when analyzing human behavior, Mo Di paid attention above all to the analysis of consequences rather than the underlying motives of the agent. The historical significance of Mo Di’s thought is due to this original, “utilitarian” approach of building up a fair society based on a rational foundation. After describing Mo Di’s historical background and significance, the following will attempt to illuminate why Mo Di’s teachings(2) remain remarkable even in terms of conflicts in human society today.


The historic Mo Di, whose dates have been calculated as lying somewhere between the early fifth century and the beginning of the fourth century B.C., lived in an era of political violence, social disintegration, and fundamental transition.(3) Born a few years after Confucius’ death, Mo Di arose in a period when the feudal hierarchy instituted at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty (ca. 1045 B.C. to 255 B.C.) was rapidly falling apart. In this era China was divided into small, constantly warring feudal states. Master Mo was therefore chiefly confronted by the problem that faced all thinkers in 5th-century B.C. China, namely how to bring political and social order out of chaos.

The great political and socioeconomic changes of this turbulent epoch were accompanied by intellectual ferment, as the people tried to adjust themselves to the rapidly changing world. Ideas about the proper relationships between members of society were naturally questioned when the old feudal order was shaken. In this period, the great teacher Confucius elaborated the social concepts that were to become normative for later Chinese civilization. In place of rigid feudal obligations, he posited an order based on more universal human relationships (such as that between father and son) and taught that ability and moral excellence, rather than birth, were what prepared a man for leadership. In contrast to the Confucian program of social reform through moral principle, ritual, and government regulation, the true way of restoration for the Moists advocated the practice of “universal love” ( jian’ai); that is, a love without distinctions. The Confucianists, in particular Mencius (Meng Ke, trad. 372–289 B.C.), bitterly attacked the Moist concept of universal love because it challenged the basis of Confucian family harmony, which was in fact and theory the foundation for the social harmony of the Confucian state. (4)


As late as the 4th Century B.C., the theories of Mo Di were an elementary part of the political discussion. In the debates of that time, the Moists represented an uncompromising opposition to war-mongering and egoism. (5) Moism as a total doctrine fades away in China after the Han period (206 B.C.–220 A.D.), and had little influence on the later course of Chinese thought until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In early Han we find only a few comments on the Moists, described as one of the six most important political schools of thought (liu jia) in history.(6) Although in early writings of the Han-period (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) we see Mo Di portrayed as a gifted scholar who received and accepted the teachings of Confucius,(7) as of the days ofWang Chong (ca. 27 B.C.–100 A.D.), Moism, in contrast to Confucianism, had become obsolete because Confucian principles were simply easier to carry out.(8) Until the famous reform movement of 1898, theWuxu bianfa Mo Di and his teachings were forgotten almost completely.(9)


The idea of social behavior by mutual consent is the cornerstone of Mo Di’s system of thought. The society Mo Di longs for should be based on “universal love” (jian’ai) and “mutual benefit” (xiang li). The concept of universal love might perhaps be translated more accurately by “sense of equity” or “universal fairness”. It is expounded as an impartial reasoned concern for all men as ends in themselves. To explain the importance of mutual benefit, Mo Di has to reject the criticism ofli (advantage, or profit), a concept which also appears in theAnalects of Confucius and was used by all Confucianists of that time in an entirely pejorative sense. In theAnalects it means a concern with personal interests, and it is the opposite of the motive ofyi or righteousness.(10)

Mo Di spoke of universal love and mutual benefit in one breath. He set out from the assumption that men in a state of nature are solely concerned with benefitting themselves. It is a situation which cannot be remedied by extolling “virtue” (de) as an end in itself, as the Confucianists would have done. Although Mo Di declared universal love and mutual benefit as a wish of heaven,(11) he has no doubt about the real attitude of man, that is that he behaves as a self-enclosed egoist. Mo Di therefore took great pains to teach his contemporaries the urgency—and possibility—of helping each other.(12) The insight that the self-interest of man is entirely dependent on the general interest of all mankind is one of Mo Di’s greatest merits.

That the world had sunken into chaos, then, Mo Di said, is owing to man’s selfishness and partiality. His prescribed cure is that “partiality should be replaced by universality,”for, “when everyone regards the states and cities of others as he regards his own, no one will attack the other’s state.”(13) Mo Di was thoroughly convinced that the same principle was to be applied to the welfare of the family and of the individual. The peace of the world and the happiness of humanity lie in the practice of universal love. Many objections—its impracticability, its neglect of the special claims of one’s parents—were raised against his new doctrine, but Mo Di demonstrated that the principle of universal love has in it both utilitarian justification and divine sanction.


Actually, Mo Di’s theory of conduct that regards the good of others as the end of all moral action is a strong antithesis to egoism. As a theory of conduct, its adequacy depends on an interpretation of “the good,” a term which means in theMozi much more than selfish pleasure, or the absence of pain. As Mo Di saw it, everyone has the moral obligation to assist the pleasures and relieve the pains of other people. It might be asked, if no one has a moral obligation to procure his own happiness, why should anyone else have an obligation to procure happiness for him? In Mo Di’s discourse a person is seldom seen as an individual, and more often as a faceless point within the system of coordinates stipulated by social duties. Usually in theMozi we find a person introduced as good or bad king, minister, father, or son. They must be good, because it is the wish of heaven and the spirits that one is considerate of fellow beings. On the one hand for Mo Di it is beyond question that man must fulfil the wish of heaven; on the other hand he also realized the importance of fair behavior in itself as the crucial condition to gain social well-being.

Since Mo Di was no utopian, he knew that doing good is often connected with difficulties. Bearing in mind the disappointments unselfish behavior could cause, he paid attention to the conflict between immediate pain and long-range good, especially when the good envisioned by the doer does not coincide with the vision of the beneficiary. Mo Di drew a comparison to exemplify his argument: suppose a man desires to cut his finger, and his intellect does not foresee the harm. The suffering that is to be expected is the fault of his intellect. But if his intellect takes careful consideration and foresees all harmful consequences, and the desire still remains, then it is the desire that makes the man suffer. (14)

Likewise with consideration of the consequences of present action, being humane is declared by Mo Di as an important obligation of man. Even if it is difficult, man must act in a sympathetic manner, because it will be for the best not only for society, but in the long run for the individual as well. By foreseeing consequence, the intellect can lead us to guide and control our desires, to struggle for the remote good, and to avoid the remote evil. By foreseeing consequence, the intellect can estimate the incompatible benefits and harms in the immediate and remote future, and thus lead the desires to an adjustment. When contemplating a given act, Mo Di believed that we should choose not the immediate, but the greatest long-term benefit, and that we should not avoid the immediate, but the greatest long-term harm.

Utilitarians view moral altruism as benefitting the welfare of society; this was Mo Di’s belief as well. Ethical egoism, in contrast to moral altruism, departs from the social consensus, suggesting that we should each consider only the consequences of our actions for our own interests (the only advantage of such a position is that it avoids any possible conflict between morality and self-interest). If the ethical egoist is right, and it is rational for us to pursue our own interest, then the rationality of morality is equally clear.

To do justice to this point of view, we have to distinguish two forms of egoism. The individual egoist might desire that everyone does what lies in his best interest. This is egoism in its pure form, but it is incapable of being couched in a universalizable form, and so it is arguably not a form of ethical egoism. Nor is the individual egoist likely to be able to persuade others to follow a course of action that is so obviously designed to benefit only the person who is advocating it. Universal egoism, on the other hand, is based on the principle that everyone should do what is in his or her own interests. This principle is universalizable, since it contains no reference to any particular individual and is clearly an ethical principle. Others may tend to accept it because it appears to offer them the surest possible way of furthering their own interests. In the end, however, there is a general agreement that true self-interest cannot be served by stealing, cheating, or similarly antisocial conduct.

We find normally that what starts out as a defense of ethical egoism very often turns into an indirect form of utilitarianism; the claim is that we will all be better off if each of us does what is in his or her own best interest. The ethical egoist is virtually compelled to make this claim because otherwise there is a paradox in the fact that the ethical egoist advocates ethical egoism at all. Such advocacy would be contrary to the very principle of ethical egoism, unless the egoist benefits from others’ becoming ethical egoists. If we see our interests as threatened by others’ pursuing of their own interests, we will certainly not benefit by others’ becoming egoists; we would do better to keep our own belief in egoism secret and advocate altruism.

Unfortunately for ethical egoism, the claim that we will all be better off if every one of us does what is in his or her own interest is incorrect. Paradoxical as it might seem, two persons each pursuing their own interests will end up worse off than they would if they were not egoists, at least on the collective level; therefore, egoism is self-defeating—a conclusion well proven by our everyday life.


Critical thinking devises alternative societies that would realize a better way of living based on rational or moral principles and historical examples. Mo Di’s theory inevitably contains irreconcilable criticism of thestatus quo. It aims to overcome all forms of conflict that make well-being and happiness in this life impossible.

While both criticizing the social life of his own time and aiming for new forms of it, Mo Di’s thought nevertheless attempts to transcend the boundaries of so-called realistic considerations. The tension thereby created between fantastic thought and social reality has led to harsh criticisms of its utopian character. Moism, though, is based on insights derived from critical social theory; it could be seen as springing from a strong imaginative capacity, challenging and overriding factual reality by means of a projected counter-picture containing hopes, desires, and wishful thinking. As far as that goes, it is critical because it disconnects from thenen vogue ideologies, considerations of social totality, and the means of realizing better conditions of existence.

Since Moism is directed toward change of existing social structures, it smacks of revolutionism, in that it confronts existing suffering and injustice with the ideal forms of being that are described in the past. Confronted with critics incredulous of his suggestions to readjust human relations, Mo Di tirelessly referred to the ancient sage-kings, who were praised for their justice and benevolence. In his view, the claim for an equitable society based on universal fairness was not escapism, but simply a call to rebuild the perfect harmony of the past. Taking traditional records ofYao (trad. r. 2357–2256 B.C.),Shun (trad. r. 2255–2205 B.C.), andYu (trad. 2205–2198 B.C.) for granted, Mo Di treated legendary figures of the cultural heritage as factual proof that his political dreams could be realized: since they had definitely come true in the past, it has to be the aim—as well as the obligation—of contemporary regents to emulate the models of the past to satisfy the need of the people. (15)

In projecting an alternative society, Mo Di helped to reconsider present problems because he created clear distance and estrangement from the realm of assumed necessities of social life. To sum up, it deserves to be mentioned that Mo Zi’s sense of a better, realizable state of affairs throughout Chinese history occasionaly not only gave meaning and significance to critical opposition, but also encouraged interest in and hope for achieving real change in political action.


Pfeil nach oben









Mo Di
Mo Zi
Meng Ke
liu jia
Wang Chong
Wuxu bianfa
xiang li






The Song emperors prohibited, through the legal code (Song xingtong), the transcription and distribution of a wide range of literary works to protect the state’s prerogatives and interests. Works being prohibited included almanacs, astronomical charts, government statutes, national histories, as well as a variety of religious literature. Song dynasty laws and regulations governing the information on military defence and state affairs served as a prototype of controlling the printing trade ever since. For all this efforts to repress publishers, however, printing never was completely under the control of the court.




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