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Hardcover | $38.95 Trade | £28.95 | ISBN: 9780942299946 | 320 pp. | 6 x 9 in | November 1995
Paperback | $24.95 Trade | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780942299953 | 320 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 1999

The Propensity of Things

Toward a History of Efficacy in China
Translated by Janet Lloyd


In this book, his first to appear in English, French sinologist François Jullien uses the Chinese concept of shi--meaning disposition or circumstance, power or potential--as a touchstone to explore Chinese culture and to uncover the intricate structure underlying Chinese modes of thinking. He follows the concept from one field to another--including military strategy, politics, the aesthetics of calligraphy, and literary theory--and from reflection on history to "first philosophy." At the point where these various domains intersect, a fundamental intuition assumed for centuries to be self-evident emerges, namely, that reality--every kind of reality--may be perceived as a particular deployment or arrangement of things to be relied upon and worked to one's advantage.

About the Author

François Jullien is Professor at the Université Paris VII-Denis Diderot and director at the Institut de la Pensée Contemporaine. He is the author of Detour and Access: Strategies of Meaning in China and Greece, The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China, and In Praise of Blandness: Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics all published by Zone Books.


“". . . truly a magnificent piece of work. . . " China Review International
“". . . a thoughtful, at times brilliant essay. . ." The Journal of Asian Studies