The Animal and the Daemon in Early China / Edition 1

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Explores early Chinese beliefs regarding the animal world and how these informed ideals of sagehood and political authority.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“With his [Sterckx’s] enormous knowledge … and meticulous arguing … he provides us with a unique work that will remain standard in the field for many years, an immense source of information full of stimulating new insights and interpretations dealing with the subject of the mutual relations between man and animal.” — East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine

“…a fascinating study of animals as metaphors for human behaviour and character, as well as of the anthropomorphism of animals thought subject to moral laws and human virtue.” — Archives of Natural History

“Sterckx’s study deserves wide attention, for it broadens one’s perspective of the historical, crossing disciplinary boundaries to suggest a fuller, more complete Chinese universe.” — Journal of Asian History

Sterckx (Chinese studies, U. of Cambridge) is not interested in the same sort of animals as zoo-historians, archaeologists, fabulists, or literary critics, but in the perceptions of animals and the animal world as a signifying exponent of the world of thought in Warring States and early imperial China. He uses animals as windows into early Chinese views of the world. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791452707
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Series: SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Roel Sterckx is University Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge and a former Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Contextualizing Animals

The Animal and the Daemon
Animals as Images

1. Defining Animals

Problems of Definition
Animals in Texts
Naming Animals and Animal Names

2. Animals and Officers

Managing Animals
Ritual Animals
Animals and Spirits
Calendrical Animals

3. Categorizing Animals

Qi and Blood
Yinyang and the Five Phases: Correlative Taxonomies
Toward a Moral Taxonomy

4. The Animal and Territory

Animal Patterns as Social Patterns
Animals and Territory
Animals beyond Territory

5. Transforming the Beasts

Animals and the Origins of Music
Animals, Music, and Moral Transformation
The Transformation of Animals through Virtue
Moral Hybrids
“Speaking with Birds and Beasts”

6. Changing Animals

A Cosmogony of Change
Demonic Transformations
Functional Metamorphosis
Autonomous Transformations
Symbolic Metamorphosis
Portentous Transformations
Metamorphosing Agents
Critique of Change

7. Strange Animals

Defining the Strange
Interpreting the Strange
Confucius Names the Beasts
When the Grackos Nest in Lu
The Dog as Daemon
The Capture of the White Unicorn


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