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Ryden, Edmund John (1995) A literary study of the Four Canons of the Yellow Emperor together with an edition of the manuscript of the Four Canons preceding the Laozi B text from Mawangdui. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Since the first publication of the Huangdi Sijing in 1974, a critical literary study of it has been required to stand in the middle ground between the word by word commentaries of the editors and the generalisations of the historians of philosophy. A literary study puts the emphasis on the primacy of the text itself and aims to show its philosophy in relation to its literary format. Part One of the thesis isolates units within the text by concentrating on the use of binary terminology. By noting passages that use different binary terms, one can identify varying strands of composition. These are each placed in relation to their literary context in so far as it is known from works of the same period. Part Two looks at the process of redaction of each of the four canons and their social context. It shows how disparate essays could be gathered under one cover to serve a common end. The method is that in common use in Biblical studies. A conclusion reviews the notions of "school" and "huang-lao" that are current in contemporary discussions of Chinese thought. My edition of the text cannot pretend to be definitive but it does aspire to set a standard of scholarship by presenting the opinions of all editions known to me in a way that allows for future modifications, if necessary, by supplying a standard form of reference for any passage, free from the vagaries of modem pagination and with a full apparatus. The standards of editing the text are also those current in critical editions of the Bible. If I have been able to present the Chinese text in a standard way, then perhaps this work may furnish greater scholars with material to enable them to give to Chinese philosophy the place it deserves in the commonwealth of human wisdom.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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