When Dialectica and Logica Travelled East

An Early Modern Chinese Translation of ‘Logic’ in Mingli tan

Authors

  • XU Zhemeng KU Leuven, Belgium

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2024.12.2.63-92

Keywords:

mingli, Aristotelian logic, Chinese philosophy, intercultural, translation history, history of concepts

Abstract

Mingli tan 名理探 (Investigation of Name-Patterns) is the first Chinese work dedicated to introducing Aristotelian logic. It was largely forgotten after being published in the 1630s, only rediscovered more than two centuries later, and then considered by modern academia more or less a failed project. However, through the lens of mingli, the key term to translate ‘logic’ in the book, this paper argues that despite the scarce readership and influence of Mingli tan, its translation practice should not be deemed as a failure. Instead, it is a work that reveals how translators can intervene with conceptual paradigms creatively and meaningfully. This paper provides a thorough examination of mingli, a culturally loaded term, by contextualizing it in the late Ming (1582‒1644), a time of significant Sino-European cultural contacts. In doing so, it sheds light on the neglected philosophical value carried by the term through translation, and highlights the translator—Li Zhizao李之藻 (1565‒1630)—and his pioneering effort in infusing it with a novel Aristotelian and Christian sense. Mingli is also examined in the broader intellectual history. Through an investigation into its traces in later Chinese translations of ‘logic’ starting from the 19th century until the 1980s, this study reveals a line of changes in the Chinese reception of logic suggested by the shift from the use of mingli to the phonetic translation luoji 逻辑 to denote logic, indicating that mingli can serve as a meaningful clue to track the transition of Chinese thought from traditional to modern paradigms.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Databases

CCT-database: Chinese Christian Texts Database. Ad Dudink, and Nicolas Standaert (authors). http://www.arts.kuleuven.be/sinology/cct.

Diaolong Full-text Database of Chinese and Japanese Ancient Books: Diao long zhong ri guji quanwen jiansuo shujuku 雕龙中日古籍全文检索数据库. China Educational Publications: Gujin Tushu Jicheng 古今图书集成 (The Complete Collection of Illustrations and Writings from the Earliest to Current Times); Qing dai shiliao 清代史料 (Historical Materials of Qing Dynasty); Zhongguo difangzhi 中国地方志 (Chinese Local Gazetteers); Zhongguo difangzhi xuji 中国地方志续集 (Sequel to Chinese Local Gazetteers); Riben gudian shuji ku 日本古典书籍库 (Database of Japanese Classical Books); Xuxiu Siku Quanshu 续修四库全书 (Sequel to the Complete Books of the Four Repositories); Siku Quanshu 四库全书 (The Complete Books of the Four Repositories); Quan siku cunmu 全四库存目 (Full Series of Only-Title-Reserved Books in Siku Quanshu); Siku wei shou shu 四库未收书 (Excluded Books from Siku Quanshu); Siku jinhui shu 四库禁毁书 (Prohibited and Destroyed Books from Siku Quanshu).

Scripta Sinica. Hanji dianzi wenxian 汉籍电子文献 (Chinese Electronic Texts). Academia Sinica. https://hanchi.ihp.sinica.edu.tw/ihp/hanji.htm.

*****

Printed Sources

Corcilius, Klaus. 2008. “Two Jobs for Aristotle’s Practical Syllogism?” History of Philosophy and Logical Analysis 11 (1): 163–84. DOI: https://doi.org/10.30965/26664275-01101010

Couto, Sebastião do. 1611. Comentarii Collegii Conimbricensis e Societate Iesu: In universam dialecticam Aristotelis Stagiritae. Colonia Agrippina: Gualterus.

Defoort, Carine. 2021. “Confucius and the ‘Rectification of Names’: Hu Shi and the Modern Discourse on Zhengming.” Dao 20 (4): 613–33. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-021-09801-z

Fukazawa, Sukeo. 2006. “Shenze Zhuxiong lun Mingli tan fanyi 深泽助雄论《名理探》翻译 (Fukazawa Sukeo’s Discussion on Mingli tan as a Translation).” In Zhongguo luoji yanjiu 中国逻辑研究 (A Study on Chinese Logic), edited by Sun Zhongyuan, 168‒86. Beijing: Commercial Press.

Gao, Shengbing 高圣兵. 2008. Logic Han Yi Yanjiu Logic 汉译研究 (An Investigation into Chinese Translations of ‘Logic’). Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Publishing House.

Glare, P. G. W., ed. 1968. Oxford Latin Dictionary. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.

Harbsmeier, Christoph, and Joseph Needham, eds. 1998. Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 7, part 1: Science and Chinese Society Language and Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge Univiversity Press.

Hermans, Theo. 2022. Translation and History: A Textbook. New York, London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315178134

Hsu, Kuang-tai 徐光台. 2003. “Jie Gewu Qiongli Zhi Ming 借‘格物穷理’之名:明末清初西学的传入 (In the Name of ‘Gewu Qiongli’: The Transmission of Western Learning in Late Ming and Early Qing).” In Lixing Zhuyi Jiqi Xianzhi 理性主义及其限制 (Rationalism and Its Limits), 165–209. Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing.

———. 2005. “Mingmo Xifang Fanchou Lun Zhongyao Yuci de Chuanru Yu Fanyi: Cong Li Madou Tianzhu Shiyi Dao Mingli Tan 明末西方《范畴论》重要语词的传入与翻译:从利玛窦《天主实义》到《名理探》 (The Transmission and Translation of Important Terms of Western Categories in Late Ming: From Ricci’s The True Meaning of the Lord to Ming Li Tan).” Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies 35 (2): 245–81.

Jia, Qingjun 贾庆军. 2009. Chongtu yihuo Ronghe——Mingqing zhi ji Zhejiang xueren yu xixue dongjian 冲突抑或融合——明清之际浙江学人与西学东渐 (Conflict or Integration: Scholars from Zhejiang and Eastward Introduction of Western Learning in Late Ming and Early Qing). Beijing: China Ocean Press.

Kurtz, Joachim. 2011. The Discovery of Chinese Logic. Leiden Boston: Brill. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789047426844

Lewis, Charlton T., Charles Short, and William Freund. 1958. A Latin Dictionary Founded on Andrews’ Edition of Freund’s Latin Dictionary. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.

Li Zhizao, and Francisco Furtado 1975 [1636/1639]. Mingli tan 名理探 (Investigation of Name-patterns), 2 vols. Taipei: The Commercial Press Taiwan.

Meynard, Thierry. 2019. “What the ‘Failure’ of Aristotelian Logic in Seventeenth Century China Teaches Us Today: A Case Study of the Mingli Tan.” Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14 (2): 248–63.

Peng, Yilian 彭漪涟, and Qinrong Ma 马钦荣, eds. 2004. Luoji xue da cidian 逻辑学大辞典 (A Comprehensive Dictionary of Logic). Shanghai: Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House.

Qian, Daxin 钱大昕. 1999. Qianyan tang ji (shang xia) 潜研堂集(上下) (The Collected Works of Qianyan Hall ), vols. I, II. Shanghai: Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House.

Standaert, Nicolas. 1994. “The Investigation of Things and the Fathoming of Principles (gewu qiongli) in the Seventeenth-century Contact between Jesuits and Chinese Scholars.” In Ferdinand Verbiest (1623‒1688): Jesuit Missionary, Scientist, Engineer and Diplomat edited by John W. Witek, 395‒420. Monumenta Serica Monograph Series XXX. Nettetal: Steyler Verlag.

Sturge, Kate. 2007. Representing Other: Translation, Ethnography and Museum. New York, London: Routledge.

Sun, Qinshan 孙钦善. 2001. Zhongguo gu wenxianxue shi jian bian 中国古文献学史简编 (A Concise Compilation of History of Chinese Bibliography and Philology). Beijing: Higher Education Press.

Tang, Yongtong 汤用彤. 1962. Weijin xuanxue lungao 魏晋玄学论稿 (Discussions on the School of Mystery in Wei and Jin Dynasties). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.

Übelhör, Monika. 1972. “Geistesströmungen der späten Ming-Zeit, die als Wirken der Jesuiten in China begünstigen.” Saeculum 23 (2): 172‒85. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7788/saeculum.1972.23.jg.172

Wang, Junyi 王俊义. 2002. Qingdai xueshu tanyan lu 清代学术探研录 (Selected Works on Research into Qing Academy). Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.

Wang, Xuequn 汪学群. 2011. Zhongguo ruxue shi: Qingdai juan 中国儒学史·清代卷 (History of the Chinese Confucian Teaching: Volume on Qing Dynasty), edited by Tang Yijie, and Li Zhonghua. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Wardy, Robert. 2004. Aristotle in China: Language, Categories, and Translation. Needham Research Institute Studies 2. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Witek, W. John, ed. 1994. Ferdinand Verbiest (1623‒1688), Jesuit Missionary, Scientist, Engineer and Diplomat. Monumenta Serica Monograph Series XXX. Nettetal: Steyler Verlag.

Xiao, Qinghe 肖清和. 2013. “‘Qiutong’ Yu ‘Bianyi’: Mingqing Di San Dai Jidutu Zhang Xingyao de Sixiang Yu Xinyang Chutan‘ 求同’与‘辨异’:明清第三代基督教徒张星曜的思想与信仰初探 (Integration and Division: On the Third Generation of Catholic ZHANG Xingyao’s Thought and Faith during Late Ming and Early Qing).” Journal of Comparative Scripture 1: 39–84.

Xu, Zongze 徐宗泽. 2010. Mingqing jian Yesu huishi yizhu tiyao 明清间耶稣会士译著提要 (Summary of the Publications by the Jesuits during Ming and Qing). Shanghai: Shanghai Century Publishing.

Yang, Dongchun 杨东莼. 1996. Zhongguo xueshu shi jianghua 中国学术史讲话 (Lectures on the History of Chinese Academics). Beijing: The Eastern Publishing Co., Ltd.

Zhang, Xiao 张晓. 1998. “Ping mingqing jian chuanjiaoshi yu shuru zhi jindai kexue wenhua 评明清间传教士与输入之近代科学文化 (Modern Scientific Culture Introduced into China by Catholic Missionaries During the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties).” In Western Learning and Christianity in China, edited by Roman Malek. Nettetal: Steyler Verlag.

Zhang, Xiping 张西平. 2001. Zhongguo yu Ouzhou Zaoqi Zongjiao he zhexue jiaoliu shi 中国与欧洲早期宗教和哲学交流史 (History of Early Contacts between China and Europe in Religion and Philosophy). Beijing: The Eastern Publishing Co., Ltd.

Zhang, Yijing 张逸婧. 2019. “Is Logos a Proper Noun? Or, Is Aristotelian Logic Translatable into Chinese?” Radical Philosophy 2 (4): 23–32.

——. 2020. “Cong Mingli tan de fanyi kan zhongxi sixiang yu yuyan de chayi 从《名理探》的翻译看中西思想与语言的差异 (An Examination of Differences in Thinking and Language between China and West through Chinese Translations in Mingli tan).” In Xixue dongjian yanjiu di jiu ji 西学东渐研究:第九辑 (Research on the Introduction of Western Learning, vol. 9), 102‒14. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Zheng, Cheng 郑诚. 2018. Li Zhizao Ji 李之藻集 (A Collection of Li Zhizao’s Writings). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.

Downloads

Published

6. 05. 2024

Issue

Section

Translating and Transreading between China and the West

How to Cite

Xu, Zhemeng. 2024. “When Dialectica and Logica Travelled East: An Early Modern Chinese Translation of ‘Logic’ in Mingli Tan”. Asian Studies 12 (2): 63-92. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2024.12.2.63-92.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 307

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.