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On Ethics and HistoryEssays and Letters of Zhang Xuecheng$
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Philip J. Ivanhoe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804761284

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804761284.001.0001

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Letter on Learning to Chen Jianting1

Letter on Learning to Chen Jianting1

(p.126) Letter 4 Letter on Learning to Chen Jianting1
On Ethics and History
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents the English translation of a letter written by Zhang, which offers insight on the motivation and intention behind his most important essay, “On the Dao.” The letter begins with Zhang's noting the criticisms his essay had received and responding that at least these critics did not really understand the central argument of the essay or the larger project, the General Principles of Literature and History, of which it is a part. He suggests that the likely source of their misunderstanding is the fact that his essay shares its title with several famous predecessors, but notes that the point of his essay is fundamentally different from any of them. Zhang goes on to explain that “On the Dao” was written to show the historical origins of the dao in a way that would make clear what the dao essentially is. He further says that “On the Dao” plays a vital role within his larger work, the General Principles of Literature and History, which is why it is the lead essay in this collection of writings.

Keywords:   Zhang Xuecheng, letters, correspondence, dao, General Principles of Literature and History

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