A Treatise on Efficacy: Between Western and Chinese Thinking by François Jullien

By François Jullien

Trans. by means of Janet Lloyd

In this hugely insightful research of Western and chinese language strategies of efficacy, François Jullien subtly delves into the metaphysical preconceptions of the 2 civilizations to account for diverging styles of motion in battle, politics, and international relations. He indicates how Western and chinese language thoughts paintings in different domain names (the battlefield, for instance) and analyzes ensuing acts of struggle. The chinese language strategist manipulates his personal troops and the enemy to win a conflict with out waging warfare and to result in victory easily. Efficacity in China is hence conceived of by way of transformation (as against motion) and manipulation, making it toward what's understood as efficacy within the West.

Jullien’s tremendous interpretations of an array of recondite texts are key to knowing our personal conceptions of motion, time, and truth during this foray into the area of chinese language suggestion. In its transparent and penetrating characterization of 2 contrasting perspectives of fact from a heretofore unexplored viewpoint, A Treatise on Efficacy could be of relevant value within the highbrow debate among East and West.

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Sample text

The general engages in battle as the pilot embarks on the high seas; both operate within constantly shifting fields, full of unpredictabilities, to the very end never certain of Goal or Consequence triumphing over the enemy or making it to port: reversals are always possible between the two enemy camps, as are changes in the direction of the wind; and accounts of bat­ tles and journeys make the most of this dramatic suspense and such reversals of fortune. To succeed, the hero usual­ ly needs help from elsewhere.

M Now let us return to the European side. When Clause­ witz assessed the setbacks encountered by the theorists of warfare, he traced them back to three causes (On Warfare, II, 2): ( 1 ) The (Western) theorists of warfare "strove after determinate quantities," "whereas in war all calculation has to be made with varying quantities"; (2) they only took into consideration "material forces," "while all ac­ tion in war is permeated by spiritual and moral forces and effects"; (3) "they only took into consideration the action of one of the combatants, while war entails a constant state of reciprocal action.

It would thus appear that, in Europe, we always return to the following rypical pattern of behavior: we start off with an ideal model (preferably one provided by mathematics) and then envisage to what extent practice differs from it. The reason the mathematical model cannot be completely applicable to our behavior "in questions of medicine or in money matters," Aristotle tells us (Nic. Ethics, III, 1 1 12b), is that we are faced with several means that are possible but, by that very token, remain conjec­ tural.

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