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Stefan Stenudd
05-30-2005, 08:17 AM
How would you translate takemusu, and how would you explain takemusu aiki?

This is how I do it (and I might be very, very wrong):

Take = bu, martial
Musu = improvisation (appx.)
aiki = blending/joining energies

Thus:
improvised martial art, according to the principle of joining energies (instead of opposing them)

Don_Modesto
05-30-2005, 08:26 AM
How would you translate takemusu, and how would you explain takemusu aiki?

Yours sounds good. Saotome calls (or did when I was around him) "creative spontaneous harmony".

Jun has it:

Takemusu Aiki A "slogan" of the founder's meaning "infinitely generative martial art of aiki." Thus, a synonym for aikido. The scope of aikido is not limited only to the standard, named techniques one studies regularly in practice. Rather, these standard techniques serve as repositories of more fundamental principles (KIHON). Once one has internalized the KIHON, it is possible to generate a virtually infinite variety of new aikido techniques in accordance with novel conditions.

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/vocab.html

Charles Hill
05-30-2005, 07:29 PM
I think improvisation for "musu" doesn`t sound quite right. The Chinese character in verb form is "umu" which means to give birth, thus the definition of "creative" in a literal sense.

The interesting thing about the Japanese language is the ability to be incredibly vague. By saying Takemusu Aiki, the Founder was most certainly not teaching anything concrete. Grammatically, the sentence could mean, " Take gives birth to aiki" or " Aiki gives birth to take" or "creativity brings about aiki which then causes take." Each character could be looked at separately and reconfigured in different ways. Ai, ki, take, musu. Then there is kototama theory which says that each sound can be looked at separately and reconfigured. Ta, ke, mu, su, a, i, ki, plus the differing pronunciations for the characters, bu, umu ( which can be divided into u and mu)

Personally, I think it is one of those things where understanding comes with study, experience, and reflection. Louis Armstrong was once asked, what is swing? He answered something like, "If you gotta ask, you ain`t got it." This might be something similar.

Charles

Rupert Atkinson
05-30-2005, 07:33 PM
How would you translate takemusu, and how would you explain takemusu aiki?

This is how I do it (and I might be very, very wrong):

Take = bu, martial
Musu = improvisation (appx.)
aiki = blending/joining energies

Thus:
improvised martial art, according to the principle of joining energies (instead of opposing them)

I disagree - I would say takemusu means 'birth of martial' (as that is what the characters literally mean) and such pertains to the idea we have to create 'the martial' in our training. It also, for me anyway, contains the idea that while aiki itself can mean harmony / fluidity etc., there is also a strong 'martial' element that needs development, hence takemusu-aiki. It has been said by many to be the idea of creating spontaneous technique, and I agree with that, but I also see it as more than that, i.e. the kind of harmony with your surroundings that, for instance, both a tiger (the hunter) or the deer (the hunted) have in order to survive. Nature is in balance, and being 'martial' for us, means becoming in tune with that nature (that we have long since lost). There is no winner or loser - just balance - just the martial nature of nature.

Stefan Stenudd
06-02-2005, 09:18 AM
Well, it's not so easy. We can't just say that musu means create, give birth, and use its western language meaning in the concept.

Arts of war don't give birth, but quite the opposite: they kill people. So, the word must have been used in a symbolic way, not intending its "root" meaning.

When I use "improvised", this is a western concept that does not seem to have an obvious Chinese or Japanese counterpart. So, somebody implying a similar thing, would have to find his/her own Chinese/Japanese word for it. That word could very well be musu/umu.

I mean improvise in the jazz musician way: melody created in the moment, so to speak out of nowhere. This is creativity in action.

I believe that is what Osensei was talking about: Using the aiki principle for creativity in Martial arts. Like Charlie Parker on the saxophone :)
Take/bu is the song, aiki is the theme or sentiment, musu is the creative process.

Mashu
06-02-2005, 11:11 AM
Arts of war do give birth. The offspring is just not as cuddly.

Bunzel
06-03-2005, 08:24 AM
Hi Stefan

You wrote "Arts of war don't give birth, but quite the opposite: they kill people. " and quite so, but perhaps this is where the founder intended Aikido to be different from other martial arts?

Perhaps the true significance of Aikido lies in its constructive power - the fact that we day out and day in practise harmony - not only in words - but in physical movements with other people. As Nishio sensei have put it - "..in Aikido we posses the worst tool of all - the tool to kill people - but with this tool we instead create harmony, life and guide people to the see the beauty of humanity. Using the worst tool we create and shape the highest being - aikidokas are truely the greatest artists" :)

Brgds

Jan

Stefan Stenudd
06-03-2005, 09:32 AM
Perhaps the true significance of Aikido lies in its constructive power - the fact that we day out and day in practise harmony - not only in words - but in physical movements with other people.Oh yes, I agreee - and I love the way you put it. Also, your perspective is that of the practice, what we do in the dojo - and that is most certainly where aikido explains itself the best.

Then, a relevant interpretation of takemusu aiki might be something like: creative budo by blending energies.
Or, in more words: A budo that brings life instead of death, through the principle of joining energies. Wouldn't that be almost exactly what Nishio sensei always said about aikido?

Bunzel
06-03-2005, 09:44 AM
A budo that brings life instead of death, through the principle of joining energies. Wouldn't that be almost exactly what Nishio sensei always said about aikido?




Indeed that is what Nishio sensei always said. In line with that another phrase he commonly used was "We have hands in order to create not to destroy.." I think the interpretations of Takemusu Aiki that you give is as close as it can get :-) (at least to my understanding ;-))

George S. Ledyard
06-05-2005, 11:50 PM
Here's is my take on this:

Take = relates to things martial; it can mean martial techniques

Musu = the same musu as in musubi where it means roughly "connection" (to tie the knot); here it has a creative or procreative connotation

Aiki = in this contect it is the "state of aiki", the harmonious condition so to speak, it relates to the state of mind of the practitioner

Therefore, the state of aiki gives birth to or creates the techniques of the martial arts or, a bit more complexly, if the practitioner is in the state of aiki (his Mind is harmonious) the techniques of the martial sphere will spontaneously be created out of this state of harmony without conscious effort on his part. O-sensei's expression of this principle was to state that the techniques of Aikido were divine techniques that were revealed to him by the Kami, not something he made up or discovered.

Bunzel
06-06-2005, 12:33 AM
Musu = the same musu as in musubi where it means roughly "connection" (to tie the knot); here it has a creative or procreative connotation

How do you reach to the conclusion tha "Musu" (産) in "Takemusu" is the same musu as in musubi (結び)?

George S. Ledyard
06-06-2005, 02:12 AM
How do you reach to the conclusion tha "Musu" (産) in "Takemusu" is the same musu as in musubi (結び)?

My Japanese is pretty non-existent so the way I got that was that I was told, at some point in the distant past... if I have passed on misinformation please forgive me... it was a connection that made sense in the context so I never questioned it. (Thanks for catching it, though I liked it better when it was the other way.)

Bunzel
06-06-2005, 03:02 AM
No problem :-) I was just wondering whether you had read some article that somehow justified the connection between the two different words. It is not uncommon in japanese litteratur to find one chinese character used in a such way that either pronuonciation of the character or the character makes the reader associate it with another word with similar reading - or another meaning of that character. Therefore Osensei may deliberately have chosen musu because that same sound also associates to the word musubi - connect. And in that sense "connect" could be a secondary meaning of the word, but that interpretation probably need to be supported by some of Osensei writings.

George S. Ledyard
06-06-2005, 09:16 AM
No problem :-) I was just wondering whether you had read some article that somehow justified the connection between the two different words. It is not uncommon in japanese litteratur to find one chinese character used in a such way that either pronuonciation of the character or the character makes the reader associate it with another word with similar reading - or another meaning of that character. Therefore Osensei may deliberately have chosen musu because that same sound also associates to the word musubi - connect. And in that sense "connect" could be a secondary meaning of the word, but that interpretation probably need to be supported by some of Osensei writings.
Yes, I understand about how homophones work... it's much the same in Chinese which I did take when I was in school (back in the dark ages). But I would have to say that this piece of mis-information has been in my head for so long that I couldn't have picked it up from any of my acquaintances that are fluent in Japanese. I'm willing to bet it was one of my seniors who trained with Saotome sensei who had heard the terms from Sensei and / also read them somewhere but didn't speak the language. Peter Goldsbury Sensei is the only one I know aside from William Gleason sensei who might know if these terms were intentionally related.

George S. Ledyard
06-06-2005, 09:33 AM
I disagree - I would say takemusu means 'birth of martial' (as that is what the characters literally mean) and such pertains to the idea we have to create 'the martial' in our training. It also, for me anyway, contains the idea that while aiki itself can mean harmony / fluidity etc., there is also a strong 'martial' element that needs development, hence takemusu-aiki. It has been said by many to be the idea of creating spontaneous technique, and I agree with that, but I also see it as more than that, i.e. the kind of harmony with your surroundings that, for instance, both a tiger (the hunter) or the deer (the hunted) have in order to survive. Nature is in balance, and being 'martial' for us, means becoming in tune with that nature (that we have long since lost). There is no winner or loser - just balance - just the martial nature of nature.

I agree that this phrase conatins all of these elements. In order for spontaneous martial techniques to appear or be created one has to be in that state of Aiki which I think O-Sensei saw as following the Kannagare no Michi, the Way of the Kami. In this state it is not one's own ego-directed consciousness which directs the action but rather the energies of the interaction play out naturally, technique becomes what it needs to be for the situation, including the creation of new technique.

The state of aiki or the Kannagara no Michi cannot be separated from the harmony with nature you talk about. They are integrally connected in my understanding of what O-Sensei meant. The discussions elsewhere about O-sensei and farming touched on this.

If we say that being "martial" for us means being in harmony with our natural environment, I would just say that it must be O-Sensei's re-worked view of what martial is (Love) as opposed to what it had traditionally meant (which O-sensei felt was more about destruction; hence his statements that True Budo is Love).

Don't you just love these simple phrases that take about two pages to even begin to define?

jeff.
06-06-2005, 11:26 AM
i'm pretty sure i've seen musu and musubi linked in books by both john stevens sensei and saotome sensei. in fact, i think they both make reference to "musu" being a shortened way of saying musubi. see, i think, philosophy of aikido and secrets of aikido by stevens sensei, and aikido and the harmony of nature by saotome senei.

first post... hi everyone!

Rupert Atkinson
06-06-2005, 09:03 PM
Therefore Osensei may deliberately have chosen musu because that same sound also associates to the word musubi - connect. And in that sense "connect" could be a secondary meaning of the word, but that interpretation probably need to be supported by some of Osensei writings.

I think you may be stretching it a little there, but, you never know. I mean, maybe he chose take because he wanted himself to be reborn as Take-da of Sokaku fame, or maybe he just wanted to have aiki like his mentor :) (just joking there). Still, he must have made this word up from somewhere - it is not a standard word.

For me, I just see it as martial-aiki, the practical side, if you like. The emphasis is always on the aiki, not the takemusu. What kind of aiki? Takemusu-aiki.

Charles Hill
06-07-2005, 01:11 AM
How do you reach to the conclusion tha "Musu" (産) in "Takemusu" is the same musu as in musubi (結び)?

I think it is in the book Takemusu Aiki where the Founder writes "musubi" with the characters "umu" and "hi" birth and light/day. I have seen his calligraphy somewhere with the same. Interestingly, if you reverse the characters, you get "nissan," the name of the Japanese car company. So the idea is not just limited to Aikido.

Charles

Rupert Atkinson
06-07-2005, 02:14 AM
I think it is in the book Takemusu Aiki where the Founder writes "musubi" with the characters "umu" and "hi" birth and light/day. I have seen his calligraphy somewhere with the same. Interestingly, if you reverse the characters, you get "nissan," the name of the Japanese car company. So the idea is not just limited to Aikido.

Charles

Nissan [ 日産 ] just means the 'daily production' but was probably chosen for the car company to reflect the idea - Made in Japan. Lit. - Day+Produced ~ Japan+Made.

Takemusu [ 武産 ] then, means made in martial. Or, takemusu-aiki means, aiki developed from the martial. Martial aiki as opposed to say, willy nilly aiki. That's how I see it :)

I have not seen the Japanese book Takemusu Aiki, but if it has musubi written as 産日 - well, I can't imagine what the intended meaning is. Lit. Japan+Born.

But more than waffling on about what it means - I wonder, how does it affect your training? I mean, how does the sign on the wall that says takemusu-aiki get reflected in your training in practical terms?

Bunzel
06-07-2005, 02:53 AM
Hi Rupert

I think you may be stretching it a little there, but, you never know. I mean, maybe he chose take because he wanted himself to be reborn as Take-da of Sokaku fame, or maybe he just wanted to have aiki like his mentor (just joking there). Still, he must have made this word up from somewhere - it is not a standard word.



I fully agree. Personally I don't find a link between the two, but I was just trying to give an explanation to how someone could link musubi with the musu in Takemusu. As you say it is a non standard word and therefore we can only know the exact meaning if OSensei somewhere explained the name. It really doesn't make sense for us to guess on the meaning based on the characters alone, without finding support for our claims within the texts of OSensei.

Peter Goldsbury
06-07-2005, 02:56 AM
I asked my Japanese graduate students this question last week. None of them had the slightest clue. There was a chorus of, "We have no idea unless you tell us how it is written (i.e., the kanji)." When I wrote the characters on the board, they still had no idea, though they knew what "take" meant and what "musu" meant. They had never seen the two put together in one word.

There are two ways open to Japanese to understand the meaning of the term. One is to start with the concept and see what it immediately means. A crucial element here for modern Japanese is the way the word is written; the other is to start with the characters and see what meanings can be read into them. With an alphabet-based writing system we do not have these options.

As I suggested, たけむす does not appear in any Japanese dictionary I possess. 'Take' with the meaning of 武 does not appear in any Japanese dictionary as a complete word. 'Musu', however, does appear and means birth or to be born. The kanji are 生 or 産 and the meaning is to take root and grow, or to be born. 'Musu' in this sense first appears in the Manyoshu. (Musubu and musubi are different concepts.)

If you start from the characters, you can see the various ways in which they were read. The character 武 is read as MU or BU and as 'take' when part of a name. 産 is read as SAN or SEN and as 'umu': to be born, and it is clear that this is what O Sensei intended the word to mean. For in "Takemusu Aiki" (p.31), he states, "All the martial arts (武技 bu-waza) that have been created (産み出して来た umidashite-kita) up till the present time are manifestations of takemusu (武産の現れ: takemusu no araware).

The big problem with Japanese is the tendency to create edifices that might well turn out to be purely verbal. At present I am having a dispute with a Japanese psychologist colleague who is doing research on a state called in Japanese kandoh 感"ョ. This is a combination of kan (= feeling) and doh ( = move). In the dictionary, there are a wide range of meanings given, such as being impressed or emotionally moved. My colleague thinks that these meanings all fall short and miss the true or deeper meaning of the word. So he leaves it in Japanese and talks in English of "experiences that evoke kandoh". But the problem here is to distinguish kandoh from the experiences that supposedly evoke it, such that it can be defined independently of the experience and its effects.

Best regards and apologies for a long post,

Bunzel
06-07-2005, 02:59 AM
Hi Charles


I think it is in the book Takemusu Aiki where the Founder writes "musubi" with the characters "umu" and "hi" birth and light/day.

If that writing is used by OSensei as the word Musubi (Connect - different chin. character) then it is I believe in support of the claim that there is a link between musubi and musu in Takemusu. Interesting I will check in my library when I am back home in Copenhagen.

Peter Goldsbury
06-07-2005, 09:20 AM
Hi Charles



If that writing is used by OSensei as the word Musubi (Connect - different chin. character) then it is I believe in support of the claim that there is a link between musubi and musu in Takemusu. Interesting I will check in my library when I am back home in Copenhagen.

There are many places in "Takemusu Aiki" where M Ueshiba cites the names of various deities. Those that combine 'musu' and 'hi' (=day) are the creation deities mentioned in the first section of the Kojiki. They are taka-mi-mu-su-bi-no-kami (高御産巣"神) and kamu-mu-su-bi-no-kami (神産巣"神). They are mentioned on pp.92 and 179. In other places Ueshiba combines 産 and 霊 (tama = spirit), which he also reads as 'musubi'. See, for example, pp. 60, 121, 149, 161 (where he actually abbreviates the term by leaving out 産 and simply reading 生霊 as iku-musubi), and 179.

To make sense of "Takemusu Aiki" it is crucial to have read the "Kojiki".

Best regards,

Edit. I see that Jun's dictionaries will not support the deities in the Kojiki. In the two examples above, the last characters are HI (sun) and kami (deity).

Stefan Stenudd
06-07-2005, 06:39 PM
This is getting very interesting, indeed. Thanks, Peter, for taking the time to share your knowledge.

I can understand that Osensei used the concept takemusu aiki intimately linked with his cosmology, his spiritual world view. That would indicate a proper interpretation of his use of the term, being sort of more symbolic than practical.
He would not mean something like "with aiki you create the most effective budo", or for that matter "improvise budo techniques that agree with the aiki principle".

It seems he has combined two concepts, each with a vast and complex meaning to him: takemusu and aiki.
Maybe we should investigate what he actually meant by aiki, as well? That has surely been done. Anybody got the facit?

Can it be sort of a koan? Was Osensei using the term takemusu aiki, well aware that most of his students would not understand at all? Peter's experiment with his students implies it.

Peter, is it possible that Osensei saw it so that budo has gone through an evolution (takemusu), where aiki is the optimal result? On that note - did he ever consider the possibility that budo could evolve higher than aikido?

Sorry for adding so many questions, and not contributing with any answer.

PS: I believe that a westerner easily forgets about the significance of the Chinese pictograms, making up the words in China and Japan. The kanji lead to a slightly different intellectual process, from that of our sound-alphabets. Their writing is built on images instead of spoken language. This has to be taken into account - just don't ask me exactly how ;) Probably, it makes sense to stress the importance of analyzing the specific kanji, their components and in what contexts they are generally used.

Bunzel
06-08-2005, 02:10 AM
Peter, thanks for the references. I checked some of the paragraphs in Takemusu Aiki, and I think I will return to my first view that there are no link between the word musubi and Osenseis use of musu. The reference to names of deities in the Kojiki doesn't support any link.

On the other hand I believe that the temptation to link musubi (connect) to musu in Takemusu comes from paragraphs like the one where Osensei writes that "..Bu must be connected/linked to the principle of the universe..." (sorry I don't remember the exact page somewhere in the pages 17-20 ;-)). Right after that passage Osensei writes "Takemusu no Bu, which gives birth to love(Ai wo umu "Takemusu" ..... ) , is different in quality from Bu that do not connect with the universe"

I am not surprised that non of the students did not have an answer to what Takemusu means, after all Takemusu origins somewhere in the cosmology (I don't know if that is the proper english word for it ;-)) of Osensei, as Steffan also points out.

Peter, do you know if anyone translated those pages from Takemusu Aiki?

Peter Goldsbury
06-08-2005, 06:22 AM
Peter, thanks for the references. I checked some of the paragraphs in Takemusu Aiki, and I think I will return to my first view that there are no link between the word musubi and Osenseis use of musu. The reference to names of deities in the Kojiki doesn't support any link.

On the other hand I believe that the temptation to link musubi (connect) to musu in Takemusu comes from paragraphs like the one where Osensei writes that "..Bu must be connected/linked to the principle of the universe..." (sorry I don't remember the exact page somewhere in the pages 17-20 ;-)). Right after that passage Osensei writes "Takemusu no Bu, which gives birth to love(Ai wo umu "Takemusu" ..... ) , is different in quality from Bu that do not connect with the universe"

I am not surprised that non of the students did not have an answer to what Takemusu means, after all Takemusu origins somewhere in the cosmology (I don't know if that is the proper english word for it ;-)) of Osensei, as Steffan also points out.

Peter, do you know if anyone translated those pages from Takemusu Aiki?

Hello Jan Max,

I think the temptation to link 'musubu' 結ぶ to 'musu' 産 comes from the fact that the early deities in the Kojiki are commonly called musubi (= creation) deities and, as you stated, there is a sense in which M Ueshiba strongly emphasized connection and being connected.

If you start from the concept (= the concept of musubi in 'original' Japanese) and then consider the ways of displaying this concept in Chinese characters, there are many posibilities. My own kanji teacher (a retired professor, with whom I have been studying kanji for the past 25 years), in the books he writes, occasionally gives a concept a Chinese character it would not normally have, in order to give an extra nuance to the concept. My protestations (as a translator) that he 'cannot' do this, since the character already has an established meaning, are, of course, gently brushed off. Of course he can do it, for he is a native speaker, as was O Sensei, and can deploy the resources of the language in such a way as to extract maximum mileage from it. Perhaps in English you would extract the same mileage by the metaphors you deploy. My professor is known locally as a brilliant writer of Japanese, in the same way that Twain was a brilliant writer of English.

The other point I would make is that the Kojiki is notoriously difficult to read. I have learned this from teaching a course here for many years on the ways in which language is tied to culture. As a text we are studying the creation stories in the Bible and in the earliest Japanese texts. The problem here is to determine the 'text' and in this respect, the Bible is relatively straightforward by comparison with the Kojiki. This text is written in a mixture of styles (e.g., where the Chinese characters are used phonetically, without any reference to what they actually meant in Chinese).

To see what I mean, consider a modern example. Coffee is commonly drunk everwhere in Japan and it is usually written in its katakana from as コーヒー. However there is a kanji version of the term, which I cannot reproduce here. If you have the revised Nelson, the characters are 3629 and 3648. You can see the combination all over Japan in coffeeshops known as 'kouhiikan' (with the addition of kan, as in Yoshinkan).

The meaning of the first character is an ornamental hairpin and of the second is a string of pearls. I can imagine that foreign devotees of a unique Japanese art based on coffee (analogous to chado/sado: the art of drinking tea) going into agonies of interpretation as they try to relate hairpins and strings of pearls with the beverage that underpins their art. The kanji are known as ateji (characters chosen for their phonetic value only).

Anyway, this post has become too long. Beyond the short pieces published on the AJ website, there are no translations of "Takemusu Aiki" and my earlier posts were based on my reading of the Japanese text.

Best regards,

Bunzel
06-08-2005, 07:12 AM
Hi Peter

You are absolutely right about westerners, and for that matter many japanese peoples, attempt to interpretate a japanese concept from a chinese character that actually is used for its phonetic value only. Unfortunately lack of knowledge about the japanese language often makes people seek a deeper meaning of the concept by looking at the graphic components of the chinese character. This in most cases obviously is a fruitless merit. However as you mention sometimes japanese writers do chose a different character because they feel it will add a second and more subtle meaning to the word than using the standard characters.

As for the translated parts of Takemusu Aiki I haven't had time to see this on AJ, yet. But I will definitely check there before starting on a translation - that is if I ever find time to start on that work :-)

Stefan Stenudd
06-08-2005, 12:30 PM
Unfortunately lack of knowledge about the japanese language often makes people seek a deeper meaning of the concept by looking at the graphic components of the chinese character. This in most cases obviously is a fruitless merit.On the other hand, there are lots of words, where studying their kanji components can help tremendously in understanding them. Also, the "etymology" of a kanji in itself is often rewarding to analyze.
I also believe that this is something Chinese and Japanese scholars frequently do. When they discuss a concept, they hurry to analyze its kanji components, as a starting point for understanding it.

Therefore, there is sort of a feedback: Because the kanji is studied for the meaning of the word, people tend to consider the kanji when chosing and using words.

About fonetics, I understand it so that the Chinese pictograms are usually made up of a part meaning appx "sounds like", and another describing the word's specific meaning. In the Chinese language, though, there are so many words sounding the same, those who put the pictograms together could chose a "sounds like" that also adds something to the understanding of the word meaning.

Applied to this thread, maybe it would be interesting to compare what synonyms to UMU, create, there are. Maybe it would be rewarding to see why Osensei did not choose any of those?
That could help toward understanding what kind of creation/creativity he had in mind.

Ron Tisdale
06-08-2005, 01:19 PM
Japanese makes my head hurt....

RT :(

Bunzel
06-08-2005, 04:45 PM
On the other hand, there are lots of words, where studying their kanji components can help tremendously in understanding them. Also, the "etymology" of a kanji in itself is often rewarding to analyze.
I also believe that this is something Chinese and Japanese scholars frequently do. When they discuss a concept, they hurry to analyze its kanji components, as a starting point for understanding it.


I think this kind of analysis in rare cases leads to something meaningful. In most cases it leads to interpretations that are far fetched. One part of the Kanji usually hints at the phonetic value, while another part usually hints to the semantic value - however by understanding these components only you will never ever be able to grasp the meaning of even small text. And it rarely adds additional information to text to analyse each Kanji within a sentence into their basic components.

Obviously when someone writes something that contains new concepts - or extensions on existing concepts then the chinese character presents a fantastic opportunity for creating new words carrying more than the obvious semantic values hidden in the writers choise characters. However it is my firm believe that any analysis of this sort needs to be substantially proven by evidence in the authors other writings related to that same concept. Just looking at character itself and saying because it contains this and this component then the author originally meant to say this and this - is simply not a scientific approach.

Stefan Stenudd
06-08-2005, 07:44 PM
however by understanding these components only you will never ever be able to grasp the meaning of even small text.Not only, of course. Did I give the impression of meaning that?
What I meant was that this, too, can help in bringing understanding of a concept, and what its user might be refering to. I mean that it is not very scientific to completely ignore this aspect.

This is particularly interesting, since so many Chinese and Japanese thinkers themselves refer to the kanji they use, their components and their traditional use.

Charles Hill
06-09-2005, 01:24 AM
Anyway, this post has become too long.,

I have to say, I have never thought this about any Prof. Goldsbury post.

in gratitude,
Charles Hill

Bunzel
06-09-2005, 02:33 AM
Hi Stefan

Stefan wrote:
Not only, of course. Did I give the impression of meaning that?
What I meant was that this, too, can help in bringing understanding of a concept, and what its user might be refering to. I mean that it is not very scientific to completely ignore this aspect.


No I didn't think so. I know you are very precise and correct in your research :-). I fully agree that understanding the characters may in some cases add to the understanding of a concept, but I would rather address the concept from writings of the founder, or from secondary sources like direct students of the founder than starting from his choise of characters to represent the concept - and I don't think we can disagree on that.

The only thing I argue against is that often people start the other way around like here are the characters for the concept and then they try to explain the concept from the characters. In this case the argument start like "Takemusu is written like this therefore it means bla bla...." instead of using the proper way "Takemusu is name used by the founder to designate his special form of ... the founder writes about Takemusu that it is...."

Stefan wrote:
This is particularly interesting, since so many Chinese and Japanese thinkers themselves refer to the kanji they use, their components and their traditional use.

Yes, I find that very interesting too, and whether it can be justified or not depends on each case. The danger for both Japanese and non-Japanese alike is to fall into the trap of thinking that you can always extract a deeper meaning of some concept by looking at the characters. In Nihonjinron this kind of research is even used by some scholars to explain particular characteristics of the Japanese people ;-)