This new English translation of François Jullien’s work is a compelling summation of his thinking on the comparison between Western and Chinese thought. The title, From Being to Living, summarises his essential point: that western thinking is obsessed by – and determined as well as limited by – the notion of Being, whereas traditional Chinese thought was always situated in Living. Organized as a lexicon around some 20 concepts that juxtapose Chinese and Western thought, Jullien explores the ways the two have historically evolved, and how many aspects of Chinese thought developed in complete isolation from the West, revealing a different way of relating to the world. Translated by Michael Richardson and Krzysztof Fijalkowski, this text explores Chinese thinking and language in order to excavate elements from them that reveal the fault lines of western thinking. This is an important book for students, scholars and practitioners alike across the Social Sciences.
Chapter VI: Obliquity (vs Frontality)
Obliquity (vs Frontality)
1 China, as we can see in our first concepts, has been particularly at ease with thinking about strategy. This was not so much because it knew continual war at the end of antiquity, in the so-called era of ‘Warring States’ – when Arts of War (Sunzi, Sunbin, fifth–third centuries BCE) flourished – because war, as we are well aware, is everywhere, but because China developed a thought of polarity, in other words of opposed complementaries in interaction (the well-known yin and yang), which responds to the very essence of war and defines its condition between the adversary and oneself. As in Europe, but so belatedly, war is a phenomenon which ‘lives and reacts’, as Clausewitz recognised, seeing this ...