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A Tangled Web of Sayings - Structural and phonological patterning in the Hanfeizi

English title A Tangled Web of Sayings - Structural and phonological patterning in the Hanfeizi
Applicant Behr Wolfgang
Number 169516
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Ostasiatisches Seminar Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Other languages and literature
Start/End 01.10.2016 - 30.06.2020
Approved amount 435'250.00
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Keywords (4)

Han Feizi; Early China; Text Structuring Devices ; Argumentative Prose

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Argumentative Prosa im alten China zeichnete sich durch eine Vielzahl bislang wenig untersuchter textstrukturierender Merkmale und Techniken aus. Von ihnen besonders geprägt war der Klassisch-Chinesische Text Hánfeizi (“Meister Hánfei”, 3. Jh. v. Chr.), dessen intrikat komponierte politisch-philosophische Kunstprosa für das vorliegende Projekt als Fallbeispiel dient.
Lay summary

Titel des Forschungsprojekts

“Ein feingewebtes Netz von Sprüchen – Strukturelle und phonologische Muster im  Hánfeizi”

 

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Das Hánfeizi ist eine mehrschichtige Zusammenstellung verschiedener Texttypen, die auf den gleichnamigen Gelehrten und Politiker Hán Fei (ca. 280–233 v. Chr.) während der ausgehenden „Zeit der Streitenden Reiche“ (475-221 v. Chr.) zurückgeht. Das Projekt wird zwei Mikro-Cluster mehr oder weniger kohärenter Kapitelgruppen des Textes untersuchen, in denen sich bestimmte politische oder ethische Argumente eingebettet finden. Der vorgeschlagene Ansatz untersucht zwei grundlegende Typen textstrukturierender Mittel in diesen Kapitelgruppen: 1.) Strukturmuster, d.h. Techniken, die durch die Erzeugung sinnvermittelnder Verbindungen zwischen den grundlegenden Argumentationskonstituenten Netzwerke bedeutungstragender Beziehungen etablieren. Hierzu gehören inter- und intratextuelle Querverweise, Zitate, mehr oder weniger komplizierte Typen des Parallelismus und satzverbindende Übergangstermini. 2.) Phonologische Muster, die auf der Verteilung und Rekurrenz bestimmter lautlicher Texturen beruhen und dazu dienen, intentional Sinn/Laut-Beziehungen in bestimmten Textteilen zu erzeugen. Solche phonologischen Muster umfassen z.B. Reimschemata, Assonanzen und Paronomasien.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Im Einklang mit einem recht prominenten Diskurs innerhalb der internationalen Gegenwartssinologie fasst das Projekt die „Tiefenstruktur“ eines Textes und – zumindest nicht primär – seinen semantischen Gehalt, d.h. seine vorgebliche oder tatsächliche Bedeutung oder deren Interpretation ins Auge. Hierzu wird ein integrierter methodologischer Ansatz gewählt, der sich im Erfolgsfall auf beliebige Argumentationsprosa der ausgehenden Vor-Qín-Zeit anwenden liesse und damit erheblich zu unserem tiefergehenden Verständnis dieser klassisch-chinesischen Argumentationsprosa beitrüge.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.10.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The "White Horse," the "Three-Legged Chicken" and Other Paradoxes in Classical Chinese Literature
Indraccolo Lisa (2016), The "White Horse," the "Three-Legged Chicken" and Other Paradoxes in Classical Chinese Literature, in Antiquorum Philosophia, 10, 67-88.
Argumentation (bian 辯)
Indraccolo Lisa, Argumentation (bian 辯), in Fung Yiu-ming (ed.), Springer, Dordrecht-Heidelberg-London-New York, 9.
Inscription Placement, Ineffability of Language and Discourses on Hiddenness: Marginalia on the Prehistory of Subtlety (wei) in Early China
Behr Wolfgang, Inscription Placement, Ineffability of Language and Discourses on Hiddenness: Marginalia on the Prehistory of Subtlety (wei) in Early China, in Schellewald Barbara, Wildgruber Gerald, Schweinfurth Sophie, Hofmann Henriette (ed.), Wilhelm Fink Verlag, München.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Professor David Schaberg, Asian Languages & Cultures United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Professor Joachim Gentz Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
21st International Conference on Chinese Philosophy “Reality, Argumentation, and Persuasion – Metaphysical Explorations and Epistemological Engagements in Chinese Philosophy" Talk given at a conference Tough Talk – Power relations, political rhetoric and cunning speech in the Hán Fēizǐ 02.07.2019 University of Berne, Switzerland Indraccolo Lisa;
Philological Reflections Talk given at a conference The enduring practice of Early Chinese paronomasia: curbing the world by the gloss 04.05.2019 Princeton University, United States of America Behr Wolfgang;
Philological Reflections: Between Self and World Talk given at a conference The enduring practice of Early Chinese paronomasia: curbing the world by the gloss 04.04.2019 Princeton, United States of America Behr Wolfgang;
Research Presentation Individual talk Some Classical Chinese ideas about human language 04.03.2019 University of Oxford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Behr Wolfgang;
Early China Seminar, Tang Center for Early China Studies Individual talk Classical Chinese’ and its discontents. What, if anything, was yăyán 雅言(‘refined lan­guage’ 02.11.2018 Columbia University, New York, United States of America Behr Wolfgang;
22nd European Association of Chinese Studies Biennial Conference Talk given at a conference The Structural and Conceptual Role of Lists in the Hanfeizi 29.08.2018 University of Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Indraccolo Lisa;
22nd European Association of Chinese Studies Biennial Conference Talk given at a conference Rhymes and reason, puns n’ proses, winsome words: three notes on the craft of eloquence in Hanfeizi 29.08.2018 Glagow, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Behr Wolfgang;
Transdiciplinary Philology Lecture Series Individual talk (with Roy Tzohar) Motivating arguments, grounding interpreta­tions: some uses of etymology in Ancient India and China (invited lecture) 07.03.2018 University of Oxford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Behr Wolfgang;
Ethical reading: Philological reflections Individual talk (w. Roy Tzohar, Tel Aviv): Motivating arguments, grounding interpreta­tions: some uses of etymology in Ancient India and China 07.03.2018 Oxford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Behr Wolfgang;
Research Seminar, Chinese University of Hong Kong Individual talk Inscriptional Evidence and the Origins of Poetic Form in Early China (invited talk) 26.10.2017 Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hongkong Behr Wolfgang;
Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2017 Talk given at a conference The Multifunctional Role of Lists in the Hánfēizǐ 16.03.2017 Toronto, Ontario, Canada Indraccolo Lisa;
Intralingual Translation, Diglossia and the Rise of Ver­naculars in East Asian Classical and Premodern Cultures Talk given at a conference Resounding the gloss: on the origins of paronomasia as an intralingual argumentative de­vice in Early China 19.01.2017 CRCAO, PAris, France Behr Wolfgang;
Western Branch of the American Oriental Society, Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference A Repository of Sayings – rhetorical strategies, structural features and distributional patterns in the Hánfēizǐ 20.10.2016 Portland, Oregon, United States of America Indraccolo Lisa;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Power Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Power of the Hánfēizǐ - Conference panel co-organized with Federico Brusadelli (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg) at the 21st International Conference on Chinese Philosophy 02.07.2019 University of Berne, Berne, Switzerland
How ‘Master Contra’ Built His Prose: New Takes in Argumentation in the Hanfeizi - Conference panel co-organized with Wolfgang Behr (UZH) at the 22nd European Association of Chinese Studies Biennial Conference, 29.08.2018 University of Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Patterns of Meaning – Structural and Phonological Features in Early Chinese Texts, Conference panel organized at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2017 16.03.2017 Toronto, Ontario, United States of America

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160252 The aural aesthetics of Táng poetry 01.05.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
147504 Masters of Disguise? Conceptions and Misconceptions of “Rhetoric” in Chinese Antiquity 01.09.2013 Scientific Conferences

Abstract

The proposed project intends to study the different structural and phonological devices involved in the construction of arguments in early Chinese “artisitic prose” (Kunstprosa), taking the Classical Chinese politico-philosophical text Hánfeizi (Master Han Fei) as a case study. The analysis will focus on two substantial micro-clusters of more or less coherent groups of narrative chapters preserved in the text, into which various types of political and ethical arguments are embedded. The Hánfeizi is a composite collection of different kinds of textual materials organized into 55 chapters, and probably compiled in large part during the late Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) by the eponymous “legalist” scholar and politician Hán Fei (c. 280- c. 233 B.C.). The typical modus operandi of textual analysis championed by the various indigenous exegetical and Western hermeneutic traditions would require primary focus on the contents of a text in order to identify key elements of the particular trend of thought of which the text is considered to be representative. The current research project instead approaches the study of the Hánfeizi, a rhetorically tightly structured text, from a radically different perspective. Following a general trend in recent sinological research, nourished by increasing insights into the anthroplogy of writing in a manuscript culture, the fundamental necessity to first analyze the ways in which the most basic constituent elements of a text (“textual building blocks”) are purposely arranged into predictable, regular patterns, and the mutually meaningful relationships established between such constituent elements are recognized. Such types of formal analysis not only help to correctly identify the most basic linguistic components and to set the boundaries of inter-subjectively delimitable units of a text, hence disambiguating their meaning. Their recognition also enables to trace subtle intertextual and intratextual cross-references and pastiche-like allusions in which early Chinese argumentative literature abounds. Thus, the way in which a text is structured and organized represents one of its most powerful means of expression. Following this approach, the project will focus on the “deep structure” of the textual materials under scrutiny, with the aim of identifying and disentangling meaningful text-structuring devices in the argumentative flesh of the selected groupings. The Hánfeizi would seem to represent an almost ideal “test-bed” case for this kind of analysis. It is a relatively stable text, and presents comparatively little dating issues in comparison to other received texts of the pre-imperial period. A detailed analysis of text-structuring devices in the Hánfeizi could thus help to develop an effective and integrated methodological approach, ideally to establish a kind of “good practice” of textual analysis, that could potentially be applied to any kind of contemporary argumentative texts at large, including both the edited literature and excavated manuscripts.
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