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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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The Difficulty of Being Understood

The Difficulty of Being Understood

(p.59) Essay 5 The Difficulty of Being Understood
On Ethics and History
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents the English translation of one of Zhang's essays. The essay argues that really knowing a person is not a matter of being able to recognize his appearance, manner, or name, but of seeing into and appreciating his heart-mind. He argues that real understanding is very hard to come by and not something that one should expect either from one's contemporaries or from posterity. Zhang illustrates his points with a number of historical examples that show semblances or counterfeits of genuine understanding. Taken as a whole, the essay presents an analytical lament, bordering on an expression of despair, over ever really being understood or appreciated.

Keywords:   Zhang Xuecheng, knowledge, heart-mind, understanding

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