Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shengren is ”Mordantly humorous study of misunderstanding of Confucius” (Wordpixelsblog)

Thorsten Pattberg, author of 'Shengren'
Mordantly humorous study of misunderstanding of Confucius” (by Wordpixelsblog)

Extract from Linda Colman’s Misunderstanding Laozi through the Discourse of Modernity:

“In a mordantly humorous study of misunderstandings of Confucius as a thinker, based on the perpetuation of an error in translation, Thorsten Pattberg demonstrates the pitfalls of using dogmatic language––whether religious or philosophical––when translating a classic work such as Confucius’ Analects. The historic error of mistranslating “sheng(ren)” as ‘saint(s)’ or ‘philosopher(s)’ rather than the more appropriate ‘sage(s)’ has compounded the initial error of construing Confucius as a saint or a philosopher, and has compounded misunderstandings of Confucius’ work.
Scholar Beware!

Pattberg’s analysis of the misunderstandings that have resulted from mistranslation of this one very important word includes a discussion of cultural assumptions underlying the Western, especially German, philosophical tradition, which make the use of such language ill-suited to the exegesis of classical Chinese literature. [See especially Ch. 11: “Nonsensical Philosophical Reading,” and Ch. 15: “The Great Man Theory.”]”

Linda Colman is a culture critic and writer at The Booklist Lady