Thursday, May 22, 2014

Devils vs Demons (鬼 v 魔)?

NOTE: I wrote this last night (Wednesday night) but there was a brown out around midnight and that derailed me. So, you will see that I just stop writing mid-thought below.

I have been sick the last couple of days and took some extra sleep. It wasn't a total loss of time, though.
I did submit a first draft of my proposal to my advisor and I will be preparing a table of contents and my bibliography over the next month.

I wrote to Ori Tavor requesting a copy of his dissertation and he was very kind to share with me and wish me luck in my writing. He will be revising his dissertation over the next year or so in order to prepare the manuscript for publication somewhere. I'm sure it will be a frequently discussed book when it's published. You can read Michael Stanley-Baker's review of Tavor's dissertation over at the excellent site Dissertation Reviews.

Tavor had an article published in Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy last year about Xunzi's ritual theory and it really opened up my thinking about addiction. Reading his article I kept slapping my head and saying, "of course, I wish I'd thought of that!" the experience has been really gratifying for me because to this point I've been thinking that I've been crazy to think about addiction from a Confucian ritual perspective. So, for just that alone I'm thankful. But then this weekend I was mulling over Hui-Lin's short article about cannabis and its linguistic impact on Chinese culture and I started wondering why ma 麻 + gui 鬼 = mo 魔?  As it turns out, Tavor writes a bit about this term. I am very much looking forward to reading it.

Li translates mo 魔 as "demon" and notes that the hallucinatory capacity of ingesting cannabis ma 麻 combines with "devil" (gui 鬼) to create this new "demon" character, mo 魔. But why? It would seem that Li is suggesting here that ma is amplifying the quality of a class of being, "devil" (gui 鬼). But when did mo 魔 come into usage? What is the difference between a "devil" and a "demon" really? Gui 鬼 is used today in several bisyllabic words that are relevant to my dissertation: yangui 煙鬼 (opium smoker; heavy tobacco smoker), jiugui 酒鬼 (drunk, alcoholic), segui 色鬼 (lecher), and zuigui 醉鬼 (drunkard, alcoholic). Zuixin 醉心 apparently means "addicted to." That xin 心 is used must have interesting implications for the neuroscience of addiction. Xin 心 has historically been understood as both heart and mind together, but Western-trained medical professionals are more likely to understand xin 心 as referring to what we would refer to exclusively as "mind."

ASIDE: While Karen and I were in Shanghai last spring we were told by several faculty of China's most prestigious neurology and psychiatric departments that a delegation of German psychoanalysts have been coming to Shanghai over the last several years to train folks. Time didn't allow for us to ask much about these training sessions nor the practices that are apparently taking off like wildfire there. I'd love to know how this collapsed heart-mind, xin 心, fits into psychoanalytic practice. I wonder how much xin 心 is going to change the way psychoanalysts think about heart and mind.

Gui 鬼 occurs several times in the Zhongyong 中庸:

16. 子曰:鬼神之為德,其盛矣乎!
Legge—How abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to them!
Ames and Hall—The efficacy (de 德) of the gods and spirits is profound!
Jullien—La capacité dont témoignent les efficiences invisibles, comme elle est éminente!
(my take on Jullien, "The efficaciousness of supersensory effect-making is awe-inspiring!)

29. [...] 故君子之道本諸身,徵諸庶民,考諸三王而不繆,建諸天地而不悖,質諸鬼神而無疑,百世以俟聖人而不惑。質諸鬼神而無疑,知天也;百世以俟聖人而不惑,知人也。
Legge (30.)—He presents himself with them before spiritual beings, and no doubts about them arise. He is prepared to wait for the rise of a sage a hundred ages after, and has no misgivings. His presenting himself with his institutions before spiritual beings, without any doubts arising about them, shows that he knows Heaven.
Ames and Hall—Confirmed before the gods and spirits, no doubts attend it. Having waited one hundred generations for the appearance of the sage (shengren 聖人), there are no second thoughts. Confirming this way before the gods and spirits so there is no doubt about it, is to know tian 天; having waited one hundred generations for the appearance of the sage so there are no second thoughts, is to know the human (ren 人).
Jullien—C'est pouquoi la voie du Souverain a son fondement dans la personnalité morale de celui-ci et se voit attestée au niveau du peuple tout entier: si on l'examine en regard [du gouvernement] des Trois rois [fondateurs des trois dynasties], [on se rend compte qu']elle ne s'en écarte pas; si on l'établi en regard [du grand procès] Ciel et de la Terre, [on se rend compte qu']elle ne le contredit pas; si on la confronte à la dimension d'esprit du réel, on n'éprouve pas de doute à son égard; enfin, qu'on ait à attendre cent générations un Sage [qui vienne la confirmer], on n'éprouvera aucun trouble à son endroit.
Qu'on la confronte à la dimension d'esprit du réel et qu'on n'éprouve pas de doute à son égard, c'est connaitre le ‹‹Ciel»; qu'on ait à attendre cent générations un Sage [qui vienne la confirmer] et qu'on n'éprouve aucun trouble à son endroit, c'est connaître l'homme.

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