This is the first complete, one-volume English translation of the ancient Chinese text Xunzi, one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and elegant works in the tradition of Confucian thought. Through essays, poetry, dialogues, and anecdotes, the Xunzi presents a more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius, articulatinThis is the first complete, one-volume English translation of the ancient Chinese text Xunzi, one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and elegant works in the tradition of Confucian thought. Through essays, poetry, dialogues, and anecdotes, the Xunzi presents a more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius, articulating a Confucian perspective on ethics, politics, warfare, language, psychology, human nature, ritual, and music, among other topics. Aimed at general readers and students of Chinese thought, Eric Hutton's translation makes the full text of this important work more accessible in English than ever before.Named for its purported author, the Xunzi (literally, "Master Xun") has long been neglected compared to works such as the Analects of Confucius and the Mencius. Yet interest in the Xunzi has grown in recent decades, and the text presents a much more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius. In one famous, explicit contrast to them, the Xunzi argues that human nature is bad. However, it also allows that people can become good through rituals and institutions established by earlier sages. Indeed, the main purpose of the Xunzi is to urge people to become as good as possible, both for their own sakes and for the sake of peace and order in the world.In this edition, key terms are consistently translated to aid understanding and line numbers are provided for easy reference. Other features include a concise introduction, a timeline of early Chinese history, a list of important names and terms, cross-references, brief explanatory notes, a bibliography, and an index....
|Title||:||Xunzi: The Complete Text|
|Number of Pages||:||397 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Xunzi: The Complete Text Reviews
Xunzi, or Master Xun (荀子), is a continuation of many of the ideas within Confucian thought. His philosophical and moral teachings, like Confucius, address the importance of ritualized behavior (禮) and the importance of education to practice human empathy (仁) and virtue (義).But Xunzi differs from Confucius in multiple regards. Xunzi lived during the Warring States Period in Chinese history, and his observation of this political turmoil led him to describe a less optimistic view of human nature than his intellectual predecessors. He views human nature as inherently bad, trending towards vanity, greed, and superficiality, and that a proper education and nurturing environment are necessary to curb these evils. Aside from his moral teachings, he discusses a wide range of practical matters, such as agriculture, management of natural resources, taxation, standardization of laws, and the use of proper language. Knobblock, in his introductory remarks, compares Xunzi to Aristotle in the depth of his teachings. But this isn't exactly the best comparison. For one, Xunzi was marginalized by the Tang Dynasty, and Aristotle was held up all the way through St. Thomas Aquinas. This is because of Xunzi's influence on even more pessimistic thinkers such as Han Feizi and Shang Wang who tended towards political authoritarianism and anti-Confucianism. This is an excellent and well-made edition, with many useful footnotes on obscurer passages and the technical details of the translation. Hutton even translates the rhyme scheme for the poetry, showing the book's lyrical origins. It occupies a useful position between Burton Watson's abridged translation and Knobblock's 6-volume effort which delves into classical Chinese. An excellent bool and will likely become the standard reference for it.
This is not just any translation of the Xunzi; it is an edition accessible to the general public, closely imitating the poetry of the original text, and correcting the errors of past editions. It hits all the right notes and is bound to become the standard edition of the text for decades to come. If you are interested in Confucianism, you will find this book quite valuable and you will most likely wish that other Chinese classics received this amount of attention and talent. The translation quality makes this one of those few foreign classics that really is worth owning for yourself rather than borrowing from a library.There is no better way to show the improvements Hutton has made to the Xunzi translation than by comparing it to previous efforts. Here is a section of chapter 1 in a previous translation by John Knoblock:“There must be some beginning for every kind of phenomenon that occurs. The coming of honor and disgrace must be a reflection of inner power. <From rotting meat come maggots; decaying wood produces woodworms.&rt;” (The brackets indicate a half-blockquote in the original text, which is one of Knoblock’s ways to indicate a probable quotation.)Here is Hutton:“All the things and the kinds that come about / Surely have a point from which they start out. / Honor and disgrace that comes unto you / Surely reflects your degree of virtue. / In rotten meat bugs are generated. / In fish that’s spoiled maggots are created.”The rhyme scheme is as found in the original classical Chinese! Most translations of the Chinese philosophy classics, with the notable exception of James Legge’s Laozi, do not attempt to reproduce ancient rhymes in anything like an acceptable way, but Hutton both tries and succeeds. The result conveys the author’s intent to teach the cosmic law of cause and effect in singsongy verse.Hutton’s vocabulary is generally similar to Burton Watson, who translated several excerpts from the Xunzi quite well, with the occasional errors of a trailblazer. Here is Watson in the “Dispelling Obsession” chapter:“These men with their limited understanding saw one corner of the Way and, failing to understand that it was only a corner, they considered it sufficient and proceeded to expound it in engaging terms.”Here is Hutton:“People of twisted understanding observe one corner of the Way and are unable to recognize it as such. So, they think it sufficient and proceed to embellish it.”Swift, clear, and to the point. While Watson’s translation is generally good, Hutton has improved on it, most likely by thinking about how each paragraph of his text will be pored over by a generation of bleary-eyed undergraduates looking for something tough to chew on. Here, as it is throughout the book, the philosophical value of each statement is made blunt enough to trip up every reader, so that a large book that looks like a jumble of adages at first quickly takes on the qualities of a well-articulated worldview.Here is one last comparison between all three translations, from the head of the infamous chapter “Human Nature is Evil”.Watson: “Man’s nature is evil; goodness is the result of conscious activity. The nature of man is such that he is born with a fondness for profit. If he indulges this fondness, it will lead him into wrangling and strife, and all sense of courtesy and humility will disappear.”Knoblock: “Human nature is evil; any good in humans is acquired by conscious exertion. Now, the nature of man is such that he is born with a love of profit. Following this nature will cause its aggressiveness and greedy tendencies to grow and courtesy and deference to disappear."Hutton: “People’s nature is bad. Their goodness is a matter of deliberate effort. Now people’s nature is such that they are born with a fondness for profit in them. If they follow along with this, then struggle and contention will arise, and yielding and deference will perish therein.”In these three passages, the most obviously inaccurate translation is “aggressiveness” by Knoblock; the typical result of a tin ear. Watson has offered an overly smooth cultural translation with “courtesy and humility,” which cannot be justified by the text, and Knoblock has adopted precisely half of this for some reason. Hutton’s “yielding and deference” is what the text literally says. But Hutton always tries to open the door to accurate comprehension, and choices such as this, or the choice of translating “bad” instead of “evil”, should not be regarded as a poor compromise.In short, this translation could not possibly be more thorough or more welcoming to new readers. I expect to see many more positive reviews of it soon.[I received a review copy of the text from the publisher; I hope to place a review in a Chinese journal. I received no compensation.]
Xunzi was a philosopher who lived during the Warning states period and based his teachings off of Confucianism. He actually spent a good amount of his time defending Confucianism. He strongly supported ritual practices and education and did not believe that people are inherently good. The opposing school of thought was Mencius, who on the contrary believed that people are naturally good. Xunzi’s school is recognized as the highest developed school during the Warring States period and he gave his teachings in the form of essays, unlike other philosophers such as Kongzi and Mengzi who taught using little stories or brief statements. My biggest attraction to Xunzi’s philosophy is that he stresses that good things are achieved by putting effort into what you want to accomplish. I strongly agree with him on that point. Though I have to admit that I get a sense of Kongzi’s style when I read this book, but I found the long essays to be a little less enjoyable to read than some of the shorter styles. He does a lot of the linking lists to get to his point. For example: “To speak without being asked is what people call being presumptuous, and to speak two things when asked only one is what people call being wordy. Being presumptuous is wrong, and being wordy is wrong.” I found it almost unappealing how he states the names of these actions as though he is of some special rank that gives his the right to tell others the titles. Im not a fan of this style when it is used continuously.
could only find a translation of the first six books at my library. distinctions, human nature, class. this is definitely going over my head rn