Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics
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This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.
Chinese poetry, and I believe it goes far beyond Western poetry in subtlety and elegance, but in regard to depth and breadth I cannot defend its inferiority. In terms of national characteristics, the Chinese are somewhat like the Romans: they always have their feet planted frrmly on the ground. They value reality, but they downplay the imagination, so that while their ethical doctrines are well developed, they lack a systematic metaphysics; similarly, they have a well developed literature
divergence," which again is based on the concept of Yin and Yang. Finally, we shall quote a passage from the "Hua Xue Xin Wen Ta" ("Catechism of the Mind-Method of Painting") by Pu Yen-tu of the Ching dynasty (1644-1911 ): What is meant by the arrangement of scenery is the arrangement of mountains and rivers. Of the manifestations of the universe, mountains and rivers are of prin1e importance. They take their origin in the primordial forces and occur all over the earth. No human mind has been
(the socio-political ruling order). Therefore, politically, Kuo Xiang stressed that although it was harmful to have a sovereign, this was better than being without one. Regarding society, Kuo Xiang affirmed that "there was a distinction between the noble and the lowly," and "hence we know that the relative status of sovereign and subject, superior and inferior, elder and younger brothers, external and internal conform to the natural principles of Heaven (Nature's law)." In other words, the
affirmative interest in life, living beings and vitality. This is the same as Zhuangzi-even when "the body is like dry bone, and mind like dead ashes," vitality is still retained. This is probably dissimilar to other religions. In the "public cases" of the Chan School, all the various natural things with their emotional content which are used in their metaphors, allusions and fables are not exclusively the withering, the cold, the declining and the banishing. On the contrary, they are often
brought about unprecedented hypocrisy, evil and corruption. The Taoists' criticism was significant, then, with its insight into the moral degeneration and alienation of the human race which had come with the collapse of the primitive society and the rise of the slave society. The Taoists proposed spiritual detachment as a cure for degeneration and alienation, which is closely related to several characteristics of art and aesthetic judgment, such as the unity of purpose and regularity, and harmony