Xuanxue - 玄學 - Xuánxué

Lehren des arkanen Lernens

"The development of Chinese thought through the centuries was carried far more by commentaries to the foundational texts of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism than by stand-alone philosophical treatises. Guo’s commentary surely must be counted among the most important in this regard, for it significantly advanced the tenets of arcane learning [xuanxue], the dominant discourse of the third to the sixth century CE, which not only linked essential features of Daoist metaphysics with Confucian morality and political philosophy to create a new worldview of its own, but also served as the basis for how concepts of Buddhism were received and developed in China. Later, such concepts and terminology made their way, either directly or via Buddhism, into the formulation of Neo-Confucianism during the Song era (the tenth to the thirteenth century). Therefore, ample reasons exist for focusing so much attention on Guo Xiang here." (Zhuangzi 2022, Introduction by Richard John Lynn)

"After much consideration, I have settled on 'arcane'' to translate the xuan of xuanxue, which perhaps differs from the majority of current Western scholars of early medieval Chinese thought, who prefer 'mystery' for xuan and 'mystery learning' for xuanxue. Xuan has a wide range of meanings: 'black,' 'dark,' 'dark color,' 'obscure,' 'hidden,' 'deep,' 'profound,' 'occult,' 'mysterious,' 'abstruse,' 'north/northerly,' 'deep understanding,' 'quiet/still,' 'marvelous,' 'sublime,' 'subtle,' and 'the color of the heavens and (figuratively) of Heaven.' Moreover, the old term 'Neo-Taoism'/'Neo-Daoism' for xuanxue is particularly misleading, since it suggests that xuanxue is primarily a renewal of the pre-Han thought of the Laozi and Zhuangzi and fails to account for the amalgamation of that tradition of thought with many tenets of Confucianism. 'Mystery,' to my way of thinking, is also a misleading tag for xuan since, for students of comparative thought, it might well suggest aspects of the secret cults and mystery religions of the Greco-Roman world. 'Arcane' seems more neutral in this respect, but this may be more based on personal preference than on firm heuristic principle. In any case, xuan translates as 'arcane' throughout this introduction, the appendixes, and the translation of the texts of the Zhuangzi and Guo’s commentary." (Zhuangzi 2022, Introduction by Richard John Lynn)

Zhuangzi (2022): A New Translation of the Sayings of Master Zhuang As Interpreted by Guo Xiang. Translated and Introduction by Richard John Lynn, New York: Columbia University Press E-Book

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