Charlotte Furth, Judith T. Zeitlin, ping-chen Hsiung, "Thinking With Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History"
University of Hawaii Press | 2007-03 | ISBN: 0824830490 | 331 pages | PDF | 2,2 MB
Case studies fascinate because they link individual instances to general patterns and knowledge to action without denying the priority of individual situations over the generalizations derived from them. In this volume, an international group of senior scholars comes together to consider the use of cases to produce empirical knowledge in premodern China. They trace the process by which the project of thinking with cases acquired a systematic and public character in the ninth century CE and after. Premodern Chinese experts on medicine and law circulated printed case collections to demonstrate efficacy or claim validity for their judgments. They were joined by authors of religious and philosophical texts. The rhetorical strategies and forms of argument used by all of these writers were allied with historical narratives, exemplary biographies, and case examples composed as aids to imperial statecraft.
The study of cases reveals historically specific epistemologies that offer insight into how Chinese experts dealt with the tensions between classical norms and practice-based judgment and between techno/magical and literati/scholarly styles of constructing authority. By the late Ming dynasty, case collections, defined as an, were a recognized genre of writing in a variety of fields, becoming a sign of the historical sociology of emerging occupational specialties in China, those of the physician, judge, official, priest.
The innovative and productive explorations gathered here present a coherent set of interlocking arguments that will be of interest to comparativists as well as specialists on premodern East Asia. For China scholars, they examine the interaction of different fields of learning in the late imperial period, the relationship of evidential reasoning and literary forms, and the philosophical frameworks that linked knowledge to experience and action. For comparativists, the essays bring China into a global conversation about the methodologies of the human sciences, where the records of a civilization without an indigenous history of experimental science provide new insight into the resources of action-oriented strategies of practical reason.
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