Philosophy on Bamboo

Text and the Production of Meaning in Early China


Scholarship on early Chinese thought has long tended to treat texts as mere repositories of ideas rather than as meaningful objects in their own right. Not only does this approach present an idealised account of China’s intellectual past, but it also imposes artificial boundaries between textual and philosophical traditions. As the first study to treat text as a cultural phenomenon during the Warring States period, this book demonstrates the interplay among the material conditions of text and manuscript culture, writing, and thought. Through close readings of philosophical texts excavated at Guōdiàn, it analyses crucial strategies of meaning construction and casts light on the ways in which different communities used texts to philosophical ends. Meyer thus establishes new understandings of the correlation between ideas, their material carrier, and the production of meaning in early China.

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Dirk Meyer, Ph.D. (2008, Leiden University), is University Lecturer in Chinese Philosophy at the Institute for Chinese Studies, and Fellow of The Queen's College, University of Oxford. He has published extensively on text and manuscript culture and strategies of meaning construction in early China.
'Meyer’s book is therefore a welcome and much needed contribution to the field of early Chinese textuality and intellectual history; it is as insightful as it is inspiring, and it may motivate the committed reader to look for deeper strata of meaning-creation in ancient Chinese texts.'
Shirley Chan, Journal of Chinese Studies 59 (2014)
All those interested in the correlation of text and ideas, manuscript culture and textual communities, orality and literacy, and reading and writing in early societies, as well as historians of thought and Chinese philologists.
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