Is zongheng 縱橫 the same as ῥητορική (rhetoric)?

縱橫

Javier Caramés Sánchez

IE University

In this paper I will argue that the equivalent of term ῥητορική (rhetoric) in classical Chinese is zongheng 縱橫. This term refers to the art of a kind of person called ningren 佞人[1] represented by Su Qin 蘇秦 and Zhang Yi 張義. Zongheng has three common features with the word ῥητορική in the meaning that Plato gives it. First, it refers to an art used to persuade and to get profit. Second, their target is an unwise people. Third, they were considered a pernicious art of persuasion.

The Chinese word for rhetoric is xiucixue 修辭學. This term appears in the twentieth century. The term xiuci 修辭 also existed in antiquity but with a different meaning. The first time the word xiuci 修辭 appears is in the Yi Jing 易經 [2]. This word is related to rhetoric but it’s meaning does not refer to a discipline with a terminology system, a tradition and a canonical works. For this reason, we cannot identify the ancient Chinese rhetoric with the term xiuci 修辭.

Lu Xing identifies six terms related to persuasion in Warring State text. Those are yan 言, ci 辭 , jian 諫, shui/shuo 說, ming 名 and bian 辯. Lu also says that Western rhetoric is comparable with mingbianxue 名辯學 whose field of study includes the art of language, logic, persuasion and argumentation. However, she says that none of these terms corresponds exactly to the term rhetoric employed as such is understood in Western languages[3].

The classical Greek term ῥητορική first appears in the fourth century BC. Plato uses it and it refer to the teachings of his rivals. It arises when the art of persuasion has some level of development. Schiappa notes that there were arts of persuasion associated with λόγος previously but they were not called ῥητορική. The term ῥητορική has an ideological meaning. Plato popularized it in order to discredit the teachings of his rivals and, especially, Isocrates[4]. In contrast to the philosophers who always seek the truth, users of the rhetoric seek their own benefit deceiving an unwise audience. In this paper I will discuss that the terms zongheng alludes to an art of persuasion with negative connotations in Wang Chong’s Lunheng. Therefore, both have a very similar meaning to the term ῥητορική in Plato.

The notion of the argumentation of Wang Chong has the following common features with Plato. First, the ultimate goal of Wang Chong’s rhetoric is truth zhen真and the beautiful mei 美. Second, both have an ethical approach to discipline: the persuader must be in possession of a moral quality[5]. Third, Wang Chong was interested in seeking the rationality and criticized the beliefs of his day that he considered wrong, especially anthropomorphism of Heaven and omens[6]. In fact, the purpose of Lunheng is to correct the falsehood:

是故《論衡》之造也,起眾書並失實,虛妄之言勝真美也。

The reason why I wrote Lunheng is that there are a lot of books with errors whose empty and false words must be overcome by the really beautiful[7].

In Wang Chong’s Daning, there is a synonymous of Zongheng: chuaimo. It also appears in an anecdote of Zhan Guo Ce[8]. This anecdote narrates how Su Qin 蘇秦 became the most important persuader of the Hezong. In this anecdote it is said:

夜發書,陳篋數十,得《太公陰符》之謀, 伏而誦之, 簡練以為揣摩。

When [Su Qin] opened the box of books, he found the Tai Gong Yinfu and bent to memorize it. Then, he began to exercise chuaimo.[9]

The modern Zhan Guo Ce’s commentator Fan Xiangyong said about the term chuaimo 揣摩 the following:

鬼谷子有揣及摩而篇,言揣諸侯之情。

The Gui Gu Zi has [two] chapters [called] Chuai and Mo that teach how to inquire the emotional state of the feudal lords.[10]

This anecdote continues as follows:

朞年,揣摩成曰:「此真可以說當世之君矣!」

After several years [Su Qin] matured chuaimo and he said: “With this I can really persuade the rulers of this age. “[11]

Fan Xiangyong comments:

謂揣摩之術成

[This] means that [Su Qin] learned the art of chuaimo[12].

Therefore, this anecdote shows that Su Qin was able to persuade rulers after learning the art of chuaimo[13]. In Wang Chong’s Lunheng chuaimo 揣摩  refers to art employed by ningren 佞人represented by Zhang Yi and Su Qin:

儀、秦,排難之人也,處擾攘之世,行揣摩之術。

Zhang Yi and Su Qin were individuals who avoided disasters and hazards, lived in a chaotic time and followed the path of the art of chuaimo[14].

Wang Chong said that Zhang Yi and Su Qin learn to persuade with Gui Gu Zi:

問曰:「佞人直以高才洪知考上世人乎?將有師學檢也?」曰:人自有知以詐人,及其說人主,須術以動上,猶上人自有勇威人,及其戰鬭,須兵法以進眾。術則從橫,師則鬼谷也。《傳》曰:「蘇秦、張儀從橫習之鬼谷先生」

Someone asked: “Do ningren improve their talent and increase their knowledge observing ordinary people or they have a master who teaches them[15]? “I said:” Ningren have they the knowledge to deceive people. [However], ningren need an art to impress the ruler when they are persuading him. It is the same way as high officer need to have courage to overawe people but, when he is in wars and battles, he necessarily used a military art to attack an army. The art of [ningren] was zongheng and his teacher was Gui Gu Zi. Zhuan says: «Su Qin and Zhang Yi learned the art of zongheng with Gui Gu Zi.»[16]

This text shows us that chuaimo was an art of persuasion employed by Su Qin and Zhang Yi who were students of Gui Gu Zi. This text also shows that ningren not only have a great natural talent gaocai 高才 to deceive others zharen 詐人 but they need a master shi 師 to teach them the art. Wang Chong also said that Su Qin and Zhang Yi learned the art of zongheng 從橫 and his master was Gui Gu Zi. The term zongheng is problematic: Does it refer to Zongheng School?

The term Zongheng Jia 縱橫家 first appeared in Han Shu and is absent in the list of schools Sima Tan. Ban Gu characterizes Zongheng School as follows:

言其當權事制宜,受命而不受辭,此其所長也。及邪人為之,則上詐諼而棄其信。

The positive aspect is that they held their power adapting to circumstances, they used to accept a mandate and they did not receive instructions. However, they were evil people, his superiors were cheated by them and rejected his confidence. [17]

This text shows us the following: firstly, those who belonged to Zongheng School were able to accept the request of a ruler ming 命 to carry out a mission without specific instructions shouci受辭. Second, they are characterized as evil, dishonest and liars. The Zongheng School is not known for having a clear philosophical system but for its lack of ideals. However, there is a considerable agreement that its main feature is diplomacy. Scholars who write in western languages often use the term of Chinese sophists for Zongheng School and the School of Names. This ambivalence is also in the Hanshi Waizhuan 韓詩外傳:

夫當世之愚,飾邪說,文姦言,以亂天下,欺惑眾愚,使混然不知是非治亂之所存者、則是范睢、魏牟、田文、莊周、慎到、田駢、墨翟、宋鉼、鄧析、惠施之徒也。

In the stupidity of that time, Fan Ju, Wei Mou, Tian Wen, Zhuang Zhou, Shen Dao, Tian Pian, Moti, Song Ping, Deng Xi Hui Shi and his followers adorned wicked speeches, embellished treacherous words, created chaos in what is under the Heaven, deceived and confused a mass of ignorant and make them confuse truth, falsehood, order and chaos.[18]

Zongheng School is usually considered as sophists because of his relationship with his eloquence and rhetoric. The term is used more as a convention. Zongheng School is closely connected with the art of persuasion. In Yang’s 揚子 Fa Yan 法言 is also said that Zhang Yi and Su Qin studied with Gui Gu Zi and learned the art of zongheng:

或問:「儀、秦學乎鬼谷術,而習乎縱橫言,安中國者,各十餘年,是夫?」曰:「詐人也,聖人惡諸。」

Someone asked: “Zhang Yi and Su Qin studied with Gui Gu Zi, they learned the words of the zongheng, brought peace to the Central Countries each for more than ten years Is it so?” I said: “They were people who deceive: wise men hate them.[19]

In this text it can be observed that zongheng is refers to the teachings that Su Qin and Zhang Yi learned. Likewise Wang Chong, this term did not refer to a school but an art[20]. The ancient scholars identify the term zongheng with a group of historical figures without a defined philosophical principles and known for persuasive capacity. In Wang Chong this term refers to the art of Su Qin and Zhang.

When Su Qin and Zhang Yi were studying with Gui Gu Zi, they were encourage to make him cry:

掘地為坑,曰:『下,說令我泣出,則耐分人君之地。』蘇秦下,說鬼谷先生泣下沾襟。張儀不若。」蘇秦相趙,并相六國。

[Gui Gu Zi] dug a hole and said, “Come down, and if you make me cry, you will be prepared for obtaining a feud.” Su Qin persuaded him and makes him cry. Zhang Yi didn’t succeed:” Su Qin was minister in Zhao and he joined the six states. ” [21]

In this text it can also observed that the teachings of Gui Gu Zi were destined to move the audience’s emotions and to gain profit: Su Qin, after successfully learn Gui Gu Zi teachings, became minister of Zhao and unify the six states against Qin. The target of ningren is a fool ruler who is unable to appreciate the talent and to recognize the treacherous:

故人君皆能遠親仁,莫能知賢別佞。難曰:「人君皆能遠親仁,而莫能知賢別佞,然則佞人意不可知乎?」曰:佞可知,人君不能知。庸庸之君,不能知賢;不能知賢,不能知佞。唯聖賢之人,以九德檢其行,以事效考其言。行不合於九德,言不驗於事效,人非賢則佞矣。

Therefore, all the rulers distance themselves from the slanders and approach to the benevolent but there is no one who is able to distinguish between xianren and ningren“[Someone] replied:” ningren can be recognized but ruler are not able to recognize them. Foolish rulers are not able to recognize xianren. Since they are not able to recognize the xianren, they are also not able to recognize the ningren. Only the wise and virtuous men use the nine virtues to examine actions and verify words with deeds. If an individual’s behaviour does not correspond to the nine virtues and his words do not correspond with his actions, he is not a xianren but a ningren.[22]

According to Wang Chong, ningren manage to achieve their goals as follows:

「惡中立功者謂之佞。能為功者,材高知明。思慮遠者,必傍義依仁,亂於大賢。故《覺佞》之篇曰:「人主好辨,佞人言利;人主好文,佞人辭麗。」

Those inter the wicked who get merits are called ningren. Those who are able to get merits have high talent and keen intellect. Those who set his mind on the distant necessarily rely on the sense of justice and benevolence to cause chaos in the great virtue. For this reason, in Juening it is said: “When the ruler likes disputations, ningren talk about profit. When the ruler likes the refinement, ningren talk about fine things. “[23]

In both texts it can be observed that rulers are not able to recognize ningren. Only virtuous men are able to recognize them with the nine virtues. There is considerable consensus among scholars that the rhetoric of Confucius and his followers it is characterized by ethical nature[24]. This trend is also visible in Wang Chong who did not reject the persuasion based on righteousness yi 義 and property and li 禮:

或問曰:「賢者行道,得尊官厚祿;矣何必為佞,以取富貴?」曰:佞人知行道可以得富貴,必以佞取爵祿者,不能禁欲也。知力耕可以得穀,勉貿可以得貨,然而必盜竊,情欲不能禁者也。以禮進退也,人莫不貴,然而違禮者眾,尊義者希,心情貪欲,志慮亂溺也。夫佞與賢者同材,佞以情自敗;偷盜與田商同知,偷盜以欲自劾也。

Someone asked: ” xianren behaves in accordance with the Way and gets an important job and a good salary. Why [ningren] need to use flattery to gain prestige and wealth?” I said: “Ningren knows that if they moves in the Way, they can gain wealth and prestige. However, those who seize nobility and wages with flattery are not able to control their desires. Those who know how to handle hard ploughing can get millet, and those who know how to sell their products, can get things. However, those who are not able to control their emotional state and their desires will necessarily steal. There is nobody who not appreciates those who act according to the propriety. However, those who violate the propriety are numerous and those who are righteous are few. [Because] the heart and emotional state [of ningren] are thirsty of desire, his spirit is weak and chaotic. Thus, the ningren and the xianren have the same qualities. [However], the ningren destroy themselves because of their emotional state. Thieves and robbers have the same knowledge as the merchants and peasants, but the former imprison themselves because of their desires.[25]

Michael Puett has analysed the meaning of qing 情 in relationship with the emotional in the Xing zi ming Chu, Xunzi, Zhuangzi, Huainanzi and Dong Zhongshu. In those texts it can be observed the idea that qing must be controlled through personal cultivation[26]. This idea is also in the in the above text. Ningren are not able to control their desires yu 欲 and emotional state qing 情. By contrast, xianren use li 禮  and yi 義 to control what they want in order to control himself.

In sum, according to Wang Chong, chuaimo and zongheng are the art of Su Qin and Zhang. Both are used by ningren who seek their profit without moral imperatives. Its opposite is the xianren who persuades with the propriety li 禮 and righteousness yi 義. The goal of ningren is a ruler who is unable to recognize treacherous and to appreciate talent. Likewise the term ῥητορική in Plato, zongheng and chuaimo refer to a negative art of persuasion used by immoral people called ningren. They seek their own profit, deceive fools rulers, reject propriety and righteousness and are led by their desires. The opposite of ningren are xianren whose art of persuasion relies on propriety and righteousness. For this reason, I suggest that the zongheng jia could be translated as School of Rhetoric.

References quoted

Chen Guanglei 陳光磊, Zhongguo Xiucixue Tongshi 中國修辭學通史 (Changchun: 吉林教育出版社 Jilin Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 1998)

Fan Xiangyong 范祥雍, and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾, Zhan Guo Ce Jianzheng戰國策箋證 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 2006)

Forke, Alfred, Lun-Heng (Nueva York: Paragon Book Gallery, 1962)

Goldin, Paul Rakita, ‘Miching Mallecho: The Zhanguo Ce and Classical Rhetoric’, SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, 41 (1993)

Guo Changbao 过常宝, Xianqin Sanwen Yanjiu: Zaoqi Wenti Ji Huayu Fangshi de Shengcheng 先秦散文硏究: 早期文体及话语方式的生成 (Pekín: Renmin Chubanshe 人民出版社, 2009)

Haweier 哈偉爾, Zhanguoce Xiuci Yanjiu《戰國策》修辭研究 (Golden Light Academic Publishing, 2015)

Huiling, Ding, ‘Confucius’s Virtue-Centered Rhetoric: A Case Study of Mixed Research Methods in Comparative Rhetoric’, 26, 142–159

J.I. Crump, Intrigues; Studies of the Chan-Kuo Tsʻe, Michigan (University of Michigan Press, 1964)

Lu, Xing, Rhetoric in Ancient China , Fifth to Third Century B . C . E (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998)

Pines, Yuri, Envisioning Eternal Empire :Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era

Puett, Michael, ‘The Ethics of Responding Properly The Notion of 情 in Early Chinese Thought’, in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. by Malvor Eifring (Leiden: Brill, 2004)

Puett, Michael J, ‘Listening to Sages: Divination, Omens, and the Rhetoric of Antiquity in Wang Chong’s Lunheng’, Oriens Extremus, 45 (2005), 271–281

Schiappa, Edward, The Beginnings of Rhetorical Theory in Classical Greece (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)

Timmerman, David M., and Edward Schiappa, ‘Philosophia as a Term of Art: Recovering Isocrates’, in Classical Greek Rhetorical Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse, ed. by David M Timmerman and Edward Schiappa, pp. 43–66

Zhang Zongxiang 張宗祥, Lunheng Jiaozhu 論衡校注 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanse 上海古籍出版社, 2010)

[1] Forke translates ningren 佞人 as “cunning” (See: Alfred Forke, Lun-Heng (Nueva York: Paragon Book Gallery, 1962).) . Its opposite is xianren, which means virtuous. In this paper I will use both term in Chinese transliterated into the Latin alphabet.

[2] Yijing周易, 1.12. In this book it is said: 脩辭立其誠 “The writer must be honest“

[3] Xing Lu, Rhetoric in Ancient China , Fifth to Third Century B . C . E (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998).

[4] Edward Schiappa, The Beginnings of Rhetorical Theory in Classical Greece (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999); David M. Timmerman and Edward Schiappa, ‘Philosophia as a Term of Art: Recovering Isocrates’, in Classical Greek Rhetorical Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse, ed. by David M Timmerman and Edward Schiappa, pp. 43–66.

[5] Chen Guanglei 陳光磊, Zhongguo Xiucixue Tongshi 中國修辭學通史 (Changchun: 吉林教育出版社 Jilin Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 1998).pp.239-241 y p.255 ).

[6] Michael J Puett, ‘Listening to Sages: Divination, Omens, and the Rhetoric of Antiquity in Wang Chong’s Lunheng’, Oriens Extremus, 45 (2005), 271–281.

[7] Lunheng, 84,2

[8] This anecdote is also transmitted by the Shiji

[9] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾, Zhan Guo Ce Jianzheng戰國策箋證 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 2006).p.159

[10] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾.p.159

[11] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾.p.159

[12] Fan Xiangyong范祥雍 and Fan Bangjin范邦瑾.p.159

[13] In the book Zhan Guo Ce Xiuci Yanjiu, I argued that in the Gui Gu Zi ‘s Mobian and Chuaibian it is presented a very similar to the notion of pathos (πάθος) developed in the Aristotle’s Rhetoric. This notion is the qing 情 that refers to the emotional state of the receptor. Good persuader must inquire it in order to know the emotional reaction of the listener (see: Haweier哈偉爾, Zhanguoce Xiuci Yanjiu《戰國策》修辭研究 (Golden Light Academic Publishing, 2015).)

[14] Lunheng, 33.8

[15] Zhang Zongxiang says that 上 is 正 whose meaning in this context is 平 « ordinary » (Zhang Zongxiang張宗祥, Lunheng Jiaozhu 論衡校注 (Shanghái: Shanghai Guji Chubanse 上海古籍出版社, 2010).) Forke interprets 上in its usual sense and translates學上世 as study the ancients ( Forke.p.52)

[16] Lunheng, 8.12

[17] Han Shu, 3.10.300

[18] Hanshi Waizhuan 韓詩外傳4,22

[19] Yangzi, Fayan, 11.14

[20] The term yan 言 possibly refers to anecdotes as those that are transmitted by Zhan Guo Ce. The aim of these anecdotes was the rhetorical training (See: Haweier哈偉爾; Paul Rakita Goldin, ‘Miching Mallecho: The Zhanguo Ce and Classical Rhetoric’, SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, 41 (1993); Guo Changbao过常宝, Xianqin Sanwen Yanjiu: Zaoqi Wenti Ji Huayu Fangshi de Shengcheng 先秦散文硏究 : 早期文体及话语方式的生成 (Pekín: Renmin Chubanshe 人民出版社, 2009); J.I. Crump, Intrigues; Studies of the Chan-Kuo Tsʻe, Michigan (University of Michigan Press, 1964).

[21] Lunheng, 33.12

[22] Lunheng, 33.3

[23] Lunheng, 33.8

[24] Chen Guanglei 陳光磊; Lu; Ding Huiling, ‘Confucius’s Virtue-Centered Rhetoric: A Case Study of Mixed Research Methods in Comparative Rhetoric’, 26, 142–159.

[25] Lunheng, 33.1

[26] Michael Puett, ‘The Ethics of Responding Properly The Notion of 情 in Early Chinese Thought’, in Love and Emotions in Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. by Malvor Eifring (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

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Un comentario sobre “Is zongheng 縱橫 the same as ῥητορική (rhetoric)?

  1. Thank you very much again, for your valuable article and contribution. It is really interesting: a new relationship between greek and chinese culture.

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