Language as Bodily Practice in Early China

A Chinese Grammatology

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Jane Geaney
SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Cutlure
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , March
     2018.
     350 pages.
     $95.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9781438468617.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Mercedes Valmisa forthcoming.

Description

Jane Geaney argues that early Chinese conceptions of speech and naming cannot be properly understood if viewed through the dominant Western philosophical tradition in which language is framed through dualisms that are based on hierarchies of speech and writing, such as reality/appearance and one/many. Instead, early Chinese texts repeatedly create pairings of sounds and various visible things. This aural/visual polarity suggests that texts from early China treat speech as a bodily practice that is not detachable from its use in everyday experience. Firmly grounded in ideas about bodies from the early texts themselves, Geaney’s interpretation offers new insights into three key themes in these texts: the notion of speakers’ intentions (yi), the physical process of emulating exemplary people, and Confucius’s proposal to rectify names (zhengming).

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jane Geaney is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond and the author of On the Epistemology of the Senses in Early Chinese Thought.

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