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ERIC Number: ED519355
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 624
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-2790-0
Harbinger of Sequestered Intent: Language Theory and the Author in Traditional Chinese Discourse
O'Neill, Timothy Michael
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington
The dissertation begins by exploring specific issues in the history of Western philosophy, in particular the theory of language that underlies speculation about the possibility of ideographic writing. Starting with the "China Illustrata" of Athanasius Kircher, the first chapter proceeds to archaeo-historically excavate Kircher's language-theoretical sources and influences ultimately reaching all the way back to the intellectual-historical origins of ideography in the texts of Aristotle and Plato. The second chapter examines traditional Chinese discussions of language (including the origin and function of writing), focusing on two ancient dictionaries: the "Erya" and the "Shuowen jiezi". This chapter explains just how different pre-modern Chinese language theory is from Western ideographic speculation including the stark contrast between the Erya and such works as Peter Mark Roget's eponymous "Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases". The vast difference between the two, simply stated, is that traditional Chinese theory requires quotidian human intent and concrete socio-historical embeddedness for linguistic meaning to function, whereas traditional Western theory requires reified, universal, transhistorical, perhaps even extraterrestrial Forms ("eide, ideai")--what Derrida and others have called the "transcendental signifieds." The third chapter carries these language-theoretical issues to an examination of the work of the scribe Sima Qian (145-87 B.C.E.), who laid the cornerstone of author-theory in China. Forcibly castrated by the emperor for a crime he did not commit, consumed by humiliation and rage, Sima Qian proceeded to compile the monumental 130 chapter "Records of the Scribe", one of the most sophisticated and politically provocative documents in the history Chinese letters a text that ended up serving as the model for all subsequent historiography as well as biographical and autobiographical writing, prose fiction, and even much literary theory and criticism. The larger implication of the dissertation is that a better understanding of the differences in how the Chinese and Western traditions have discussed language, particularly how linguistic meaning functions, may well help to lead contemporary (posthumanist) theory to a more nuanced and culturally inclusive view of authorial intention. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A