Effortless Action by Edward Slingerland
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Effortless Action
By Edward Slingerland

Effortless Action

Wu-Wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China

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Format: Paperback

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Effortless Action by Edward Slingerland

Book Awards

  • Winner of American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion 2004.

Book Description

This book presents a systematic account of the role of the personal spiritual ideal of wu-wei-literally "no doing," but better rendered as "effortless action"-in early Chinese thought. Edward Slingerland's analysis shows that wu-wei represents the most general of a set of conceptual metaphors having to do with a state of effortless ease and unself-consciousness. This concept of effortlessness, he contends, serves as a common ideal for both Daoist and Confucian thinkers. He also argues that this concept contains within itself a conceptual tension that motivates the development of early Chinese thought: the so-called "paradox of wu-wei," or the question of how one can consciously "try not to try." Methodologically, this book represents a preliminary attempt to apply the contemporary theory of conceptual metaphor to the study of early Chinese thought. Although the focus is upon early China, both the subject matter and methodology have wider implications. The subject of wu-wei is relevant to anyone interested in later East Asian religious thought or in the so-called "virtue-ethics" tradition in the West. Moreover, the technique of conceptual metaphor analysis-along with the principle of "embodied realism" upon which it is based-provides an exciting new theoretical framework and methodological tool for the study of comparative thought, comparative religion, intellectual history, and even the humanities in general. Part of the purpose of this work is thus to help introduce scholars in the humanities and social sciences to this methodology, and provide an example of how it may be applied to a particular sub-field.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780195314878
ISBN-10: 0195314875
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 157mm x 20mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 22-Mar-2007
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Edward Slingerland

Trying Not to Try by Edward Slingerland Trying Not to Try, Paperback (January 2015)

A deeply original exploration of the power of spontaneity - and why it's essential to our wellbeing, both as individuals and as a society

Creating Consilience by Edward Slingerland Creating Consilience, Paperback (January 2012)

This volume takes a new approach to bridging the cultures of science and the humanities. The editors and contributors formulate how to develop a new shared framework of consilience beyond mere interdisciplinarity, in a way that both sides can accept.

Essential Analects by Edward Slingerland Essential Analects, Paperback (March 2006)

Meant for a survey course or a course in which the Analects is one of the works studied, this volume provides a representative selection from Slingerland's translation of the work, including passages covering major themes. It contains an appendix of selected traditional commentaries. Also included are an Introduction, bibliography, and notes.

» View all books by Edward Slingerland


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Author Biography - Edward Slingerland

Edward Slingerland is Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures and Religion at the University of Southern California (homepage: www-rcf.usc.edu/~slingerl).

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Recent books by Edward Slingerland close
Trying Not to Try by Edward Slingerland
Trying Not to Try by Edward Slingerland
Creating Consilience by Edward Slingerland
Essential Analects by Edward Slingerland
Analects by Edward Slingerland
Effortless Action by Edward Slingerland
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